The Center for Children's Books

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Adoption - February 2009

Selected and annotated by Erica Voell

Alvarez, Julia. Finding Miracles. Knopf, 2004. (264 p.) Gr. 7-10.
Milly Kaufman was born in an unspecified country. Her parents, who were Peace Corps workers, adopted her from an orphanage after falling in love with her. As she gets to know Pablo, a refugee, she becomes more interested in her country of origin. When Milly joins Pablo's family on a journey back to their homeland she discovers first-hand her personal history.

Belton, Sandra. Store Bought Baby. Greenwillow Books, 2006. (246 p.) Gr. 7-10.
Leah is devasted by the death of her older brother Luce in a car accident. When she overhears a family friend suggest that her parents' grief is tempered by the fact that Luce was their adopted, not biological, child, she's enraged. In her yearning for her lost brother, she begins to wonder about his first set of parents, who don't know that they too have lost something; to this end, she begins searching for information about her brother's adoption and his birth parents. This is an unusual direction for a story of bereavement, but it's written with great emotional wisdom. 

Cummings, Mary. Three Names of Me. Albert Whitman, 2006. (40 p.) 6-9 yrs.  
Ada has three names, the one given to her by her caregivers in the Chinese orphanage, Ada(ai da which means "love arrived" in Chinese) the name given to her by her adoptive American parents, and the third name whispered by her birth mother. This is the beautifully illustrated story of Ada's history as a Chinese girl raised in America and her connections to China.

Cushman, Karen. Rodzina. Clarion Books, 2003. (215 p.) Gr. 5-8.
In 1881, Rodzina Brodski finds herself heading west from Chicago on an orphan train. She is convinced she won't find a loving family that will want to adopt an unpretty, aloof girl of Polish origin. Soon she finds she has no choice in the matter and the only potential adopters are a pair of elderly sisters and an old man looking for a replacement wife. She escapes from both situations and eventually finds a loving home. The happy ending is no surprise to readers but is satisfying and quite believable. Historical fiction and orphan story fans will enjoy this book filled with memorable characters and humor.

Dalton, Annie & Maria Dalton. Invisible Threads. Delacorte Press, 2006. (200 p.) Gr. 7-12.
Naomi gave birth to a baby when she was sixteen and gave the little girl up for adoption. Carrie-Anne, now sixteen, is at odds with her adoptive mother and decides that it's time she met Naomi, her birth mother. The story alternates between Naomi and Carrie-Anne both at sixteen and their struggles with their respective mothers and lives. It's obvious that Carrie-Anne's interest in meeting her biological mom is a reaction to the conflicts with her adoptive mother. A British import that will appeal to adoptees, as well as teen readers experiencing a rough times with parents.

Hicks, Betty. Get Real. Roaring Brook Press, 2006. (184 p.) Gr. 4-7.
Dez and her best friend, Jil, have reached an age where they love their parents, but also find them unbelievably embarrassing. Dez's parents are just too messy to introduce to her friends. Jil's adoptive parents are perfectionists about to lose their status when Jil finds her birth mother. To Jil, her birth mother's home is a paradise, while her adoptive parents hide their anger and hurt.  Dez knows that things can't be perfect and is there waiting to save her friend should everything at Jil's birth mother's house fall through. It's a story of wanting parents different from the one you have and accepting the parents you can't live without.

Marsden, Carolyn and Shin-Mui, Virgina.
The Jade Dragon. Candlewick Press, 2006. (169 p.) Gr. 2-4.
Ginny is sure that the new girl, Stephanie, will be her best friend. Stephanie, like Ginny is Chinese, but Stephanie is adopted, doesn't eat Chinese food, and hates her black hair. Stephanie's parents aren't Chinese and she isn't familiar with, or interested in, Chinese culture. Ginny is sure that she and Stephanie share a bond and works to make Stephanie her best friend. She even goes as far as lending Stephanie a hand-carved jade dragon.

Parr, Todd. We Belong Together: A Book About Adoption and Families. Little, Brown, 2007. (32 p.) 2-5 yrs.
A book about all sorts of families and adopted children. This book addresses many of the reasons children get adopted. The drawings are simple and brightly colored. The text and pictures make the book understandable for young children.

Reinhardt, Dana. Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life. Wendy Lamb Books, 2006. (224 p.) Gr. 7-10.
Simone is so different from the rest of her family, she doesn't even resemble anyone in her family. She's adopted and she's always known it but never wanted to know anything about her birth mother. One day Rivka calls and Simone learns her mother was just like her - a sixteen-year-old. Simone learns more about Rivka and why Rivka wanted to get into contact with her. A wonderful story of family love and human connection between Simone, her family and her birth mother.

Rodowsky, Colby. Ben & the Sudden Too-Big Family. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. (120 p.) Gr. 4-6.
It's always been Ben and his dad since Ben's mother died. Then his father meets Casey, who becomes his step-mother, and they decide to adopt a baby from China. Suddenly Ben's family goes from two to four. To top it off, Ben must miss soccer camp to go on vacation with Casey's huge family - all twenty-seven of them. This is a story of Ben and how he comes to realize "there was a ton more all-right stuff than not-all-right in my life."

Warren, Andrea. Escape from Saigon. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004. (110 p.) Gr. 4-8.
The story of Matt Steiner, a child orphaned by the Vietnam War, and his incredible journey from a peaceful village in Vietnam to his adoptive family in the United States. He is one of a few thousand children who were part of Operation Babylift during the Vietnam War. After leaving Vietnam as an eight-year-old, he has many questions about his past that will lead him back to Vietnam as an adult. This is a story of the innocent victims whose homeland is ravaged by war.

Wolf, Joan. Someone Named Eva. Clarion, 2007 (200 p.) Gr. 4-7.
In 1942, Milada is taken from her family in Lidice, Czechoslovakia, entered into the Lebensborn program and repatriated as a German child to live with a high-ranking Nazi official's family. Renamed "Eva" during her training, Milada is treated well during her time with the Nazi official's family. Milada never forgets her true name or her history in Czechoslovakia. A powerful story based on a true account of the events in Lidice, Czechoslovakia in 1942.

Yansky, Brian. My Road Trip to the Pretty Girl Capital of the World. Cricket Books, 2003. (178 p.) Gr. 7-10.
It's 1979 and Simon's life is a wreck. His dad thinks he's a screw-up, Simon's adopted and his family refuses to discuss it. He decides to take off for Texas to find his birth parents on the way, he picks up an Elvis impersonator, two homeless guys and a pretty girl named Charley. Simon finally meets birth parents - his father is a scam artist and his mother is in a mental hospital. It's the quirky tale of how Simon gains better understanding of himself through this road trip.