twenty-three twenty-five books published in 2021 and written by adoptees to the Adoptee Reading catalog! Here they are in one convenient list.
(Did we miss one? Let us know here.)
Years after being taken away from her birth parents as a baby by the state and then being adopted out of the foster care system at age four, singer-songwriter Jenni Alpert decided to search for her birth father with the help of a private investigator, resumed her birth name “Cami” to be recognized by him if reunited, and finally found him roaming the streets of Long Beach homeless, addicted, and running from the law, yet a musician just like her.
In a world where homelessness has become more prevalent today than ever, this biological duo partner up and tackle the impossible. Together they embark upon profound adventures of transformation as “Cami” takes her birth father under her wing using unique solution solving systems to shadowing him through transitions pioneering a path to his release from the legal system for the first time since he was nine and ending his cycle of homelessness all the while motivating his halt of his drug use and street crime. Through resilience, volunteering, and sharing their story they partner together and work to inspire others experiencing homelessness, addiction, and loss along the way.
While following “Cami” discovering the roots of her adopted self and the reunification with her birth father, this dynamic story ultimately reflects the impact of how creating a common ground of togetherness despite dichotomy can spark lifelong profound transformations. As the biological duo explore their vastly contrasting worlds playing music together and giving back, they meld an incredible bond of an extraordinary partnership and unconditional love between them. Today Jenni Alpert “Cami” and her birth father Don continue to share their stories and songs from city to city in rescue missions, shelters, and local music venues with others facing similar challenges surrounding homelessness, addiction, incarceration, foster care, adoption, and biological reunions. Their journey continues to impact those who discover them.
by Jan Beatty
American Bastard is a lyrical inquiry into the experience of being a bastard in America. This memoir travels across literal continents–and continents of desire as Beatty finds her birthfather, a Canadian hockey player who’s won three Stanley Cups–and her birthmother, a working-class woman from Pittsburgh. This is not the whitewashed story, but the real story, where Beatty writes through complete erasure: loss of name and history, and a culture based on the currency of gratitude as expected payment from the adoptee. American Bastard sandblasts the exaltation of adoption in Western culture and the myth of the “chosen baby.” This journey into the relationship of place and body compels and unhinges, with the link between identity and blood history as its driving force. Beatty rescripts the order of things: the horizontal world of the birth table where babies are switched, the complex yard of the body where names and blood shift and revolt, and the actual story into the relationship of place and the insurrection of the body erased. Issues of class and struggle run throughout this book, this narrative river between blood and continents, between work and desire.
Part memoir, part quick-start guide, Geraldine Berger, “The Genetic Genealogy Coach,” shares her own journey to living in the know. The search for her birth parents spanned a cumulative thirty-four years, due to sealed records, aliases and other erroneous information. Berger tells you which DNA tests to use and how to navigate websites like Ancestry.com. She guides you step-by-step through the Berger Method, the proven strategy she has used to solve hundreds of cases of unknown parentage and other family tree mysteries. Berger’s compelling personal story–and those of twelve others whom she has reunited with members of their biological families–make a powerful argument for discovering the truth of one’s origins. Are you ready to live in the know?
What’s Inside? The Quick-Start Guide to Finding Family with DNA Testing Gerri’s proven DNA testing strategy; A special chapter for birth parents and birth family members searching for an adoptee; Step-by-step instructions on how to download your raw DNA data and upload it to other sites; Important considerations and search outcomes.
From the 1940s through the 1960s, young pregnant women entered the front door of a clinic in a small North Georgia town. Sometimes their babies exited out the back, sold to northern couples who were desperate to hold a newborn in their arms. But these weren’t adoptions–they were transactions. And one unethical doctor was exploiting other people’s tragedies.
Jane Blasio was one of those babies. At six, she learned she was adopted. At fourteen, she first saw her birth certificate, which led her to begin piecing together details of her past. Jane undertook a decades-long personal investigation to not only discover her own origins but identify and reunite other victims of the Hicks Clinic human trafficking scheme. Along the way she became an expert in illicit adoptions, serving as an investigator and telling her story on every major news network. Taken at Birth is the remarkable account of her tireless quest for truth, justice, and resolution.
Ripped at the Root: An Adoption Story
by Mary Cardaras
“With searing detail and lean, crisp prose, in Ripped at the Root Mary Cardaras tells the story of Dena Polites, a woman born to a young unwed Greek couple who was adopted by married Greek Americans in Ohio. Polites’s tale serves as a focal point for the some 4,000 Greek infants and children who, in the years after World War II, were torn from their families, country, culture and dispatched to live with distant strangers in the US and Western Europe. In the midst of the Cold War, these children—many the sons and daughters of Greek leftists—became pawns in the global battle for democracy. In this powerful, un-put-downable narrative, Cardaras gives voice not only to Greek adoptees, but to international adoptees everywhere as they navigate returns to their birthplaces; their birth relatives; and reclaim their stolen origin stories.” –Gabrielle Glaser
Surviving the White Gaze: A Memoir
by Rebecca Carroll
Rebecca Carroll grew up the only black person in her rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents who believed in peace, love, and zero population growth, her early childhood was loving and idyllic—and yet she couldn’t articulate the deep sense of isolation she increasingly felt as she grew older.
Everything changed when she met her birth mother, a young white woman, who consistently undermined Carroll’s sense of her blackness and self-esteem. Carroll’s childhood became harrowing, and her memoir explores the tension between the aching desire for her birth mother’s acceptance, the loyalty she feels toward her adoptive parents, and the search for her racial identity.
As an adult, Carroll forged a path from city to city, struggling along the way with difficult boyfriends, depression, eating disorders, and excessive drinking. Ultimately, through the support of her chosen black family, she was able to heal. Intimate and illuminating, Surviving the White Gaze is a timely examination of racism and racial identity in America today, and an extraordinarily moving portrait of resilience.
Heart and Seoul
by Jen Frederick
As a Korean adoptee, Hara Wilson doesn’t need anyone telling her she looks different from her white parents. She knows. Every time Hara looks in the mirror, she’s reminded that she doesn’t look like anyone else in her family—not her loving mother, Ellen; not her jerk of a father, Pat; and certainly not like Pat’s new wife and new “real” son. At the age of twenty-five, she thought she had come to terms with it all, but when her father suddenly dies, an offhand comment at his funeral triggers an identity crisis that has her running off to Seoul in search of her roots. What Hara finds there has all the makings of a classic K-drama: a tall, mysterious stranger who greets her at the airport, spontaneous adventures across the city, and a mess of familial ties, along with a red string of destiny that winds its way around her, heart and soul. Hara goes to Korea looking for answers, but what she gets instead is love—a forbidden love that will either welcome Hara home…or destroy her chance of finding one.
The Guild of the Infant Saviour: An Adopted Child’s Memory Book
by Megan Culhane Galbraith
Shortly before Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, adoptee Megan Culhane Galbraith was born in a Catholic charity hospital in New York City to a teenaged resident of the Guild of the Infant Saviour, a home for unwed mothers. Decades later, on the eve of becoming a mother herself, she would travel to the former guild site; to her birth mother’s home in Scotland; and to Cornell University, where she discovered the startling history of its Domestic Economics program. There, from 1919 to 1969, coeds applied scientific principles to domesticity as they collectively mothered a rotating cast of babies awaiting adoption. The babies shared the last name Domecon and provided the inspiration for Galbraith’s art project, The Dollhouse.
The Guild of the Infant Saviour is a dizzyingly inventive hybrid memoir of one adoptee’s quest for her past. Galbraith pairs narrative with images from The Dollhouse as she weaves a personal and cultural history of adoption as it relates to guilt, shame, grief, identity, and memory itself. Ultimately, she connects her experiences to those of generations of adoptees, to the larger stories America tells about sex and motherhood, and to the shadows those stories cast on us all.
Saved by a Song: The Art and Healing Power of Songwriting
by Mary Gauthier
MEMOIR + GUIDE BOOK
Mary Gauthier was twelve years old when she was given her Aunt Jenny’s old guitar and taught herself to play with a Mel Bay basic guitar workbook. Music offered her a window to a world where others felt the way she did. Songs became lifelines to her, and she longed to write her own, one day. Then, for a decade, while struggling with addiction, Gauthier put her dream away and her call to songwriting faded. It wasn’t until she got sober and went to an open mic with a friend did she realize that she not only still wanted to write songs, she needed to.
Today, Gauthier is a decorated musical artist, with numerous awards and recognition for her songwriting, including a Grammy nomination. In Saved by a Song, Mary Gauthier pulls the curtain back on the artistry of songwriting. Part memoir, part philosophy of art, part nuts and bolts of songwriting, her book celebrates the redemptive power of song to inspire and bring seemingly different kinds of people together.
RESEARCH + GUIDE BOOK
If you’re the white parent of a transracially or internationally adopted child, you may have been told that if you try your best and work your hardest, good intentions and a whole lot of love will be enough to give your child the security, attachment, and nurturing family life they need to thrive. The only problem? It’s not true.
What White Parents Need to Know About Transracial Adoption breaks down the dynamics that frequently fly under the radar of the whitewashed, happily-ever-after adoption stories we hear so often. Written by Melissa Guida-Richards–a transracial, transnational, and late-discovery adoptee–this book unpacks the mistakes you don’t even know you’re making and gives you the real-life tools to be the best parent you can be to the child you love more than anything.
From original research, personal stories, and interviews with parents and adoptees, you’ll learn: • What parents wish they’d known before they adopted–and what kids wish their adoptive parents had done differently • What white privilege, white saviorism, and toxic positivity are . . . and how they show up, even when you don’t mean it • How your child might feel and experience the world differently than you • All about microaggressions, labeling, and implicit bias • How to help your child connect with their cultural heritage through language, food, music, and clothing • The 5 stages of grief for adoptive parents • How to start tough conversations, work with defensiveness, and process guilt
A middle-aged man’s search for his biological family. Having lived his whole life thinking about where he came from, while yearning to understand the missing answers to his self-actualization, DNA matches opened the door for him to get answers from genealogical research. With each discovery, the coincidences in his life unlock mysteries as new relatives enter the fold. Along the way, he realizes that getting the answers are matched with an ever greater satisfaction from spiritual fulfillment.
The Jasmine Project
by Meredith Ireland
Jenny Han meets The Bachelorette in this effervescent romantic comedy about a teen Korean American adoptee who unwittingly finds herself at the center of a competition for her heart, as orchestrated by her overbearing, loving family.
Jasmine Yap’s life is great. Well, it’s okay. She’s about to move in with her long-time boyfriend, Paul, before starting a nursing program at community college—all of which she mostly wants. But her stable world is turned upside down when she catches Paul cheating. To her giant, overprotective family, Paul’s loss is their golden ticket to showing Jasmine that she deserves much more. The only problem is, Jasmine refuses to meet anyone new. But…what if the family set up a situation where she wouldn’t have to know? A secret Jasmine Project. The plan is simple: use Jasmine’s graduation party as an opportunity for her to meet the most eligible teen bachelors in Orlando. There’s no pressure for Jasmine to choose anyone, of course, but the family hopes their meticulously curated choices will show Jasmine how she should be treated. And maybe one will win her heart. But with the family fighting for their favorites, bachelors going rogue, and Paul wanting her back, the Jasmine Project may not end in love but total, heartbreaking disaster.
Sandwiched: A Memoir of Holding On and Letting Go
by Laurie James
Laurie James spent most of her life wondering what it means to belong; loneliness dictated the choices she made. She rarely shared this secret with others, however; it was always hidden behind a carefree and can-do attitude. When she’s in her mid-forties, Laurie’s mother has a heart attack and her husband’s lawyer delivers some shocking news. She suddenly finds herself sandwiched between caring for her parents, managing unruly caregivers, raising four teenage daughters, and trying to understand the choices of the husband she thought she knew. Laurie’s story is about one woman’s struggle to “do it all” while facing the reality that the “ideal life” and “perfect family” she believed could save her was slowly crumbling beneath her. Laurie tries everything to keep her family together―seeks therapy, practices yoga, rediscovers nature, develops strong female friends, and begins writing―but as she explores the layers of her life and heals her past, she realizes that she’s the only one who can create the life she wants and deserves. Sandwiched is a memoir about what it means to let go of the life you planned in order to find the life you belong to.
All Morning the Crows
by Meg Kearney
Kearney draws on her acute powers of observation, a lively curiosity, and her gift for gorgeous imagery to take us on a journey of personal exploration, discovery, and reconciliation. Surprising poems bring together the parallel but discreet worlds of humans and birds, which speak to each other across the gulf between them. With a knowledge of birds and their behavior sufficient to satisfy even the most demanding birder, but never alienating the casual observer, with wit, musicality, and her unflinching eye, Kearney gives us a page-turner we want never to end, its subject being the work in progress which is life and its abundant mysteries.
The Ones Who Misbehave
by Hanna Lee
Ever felt like you’re about to explode but you don’t know why? Like they say, sometimes we have to lose ourselves to find the true self. Follow this tale through the eyes of a woman of color (Vanessa aka Van) who is brimming with frustration and sent to a wellness center to recover. You’ll find out why certain emotions are brewing from this refreshing perspective told by a minority within the minority experience—void of the traditional stuffy-old stereotypes Asians are often reduced to. As Van listens to the experiences of her newfound friends, something within her is released. On this path, the protagonist gains insight into an unknown community and also herself. If you’re simply human, you will be able to identify with this contemporary true-to-life fiction story. This will be a book you’ll want to gift to friends and fellow human-rights advocates.
Ireland and the Magdalene Laundries: A Campaign for Justice
by Claire McGettrick, Katherine O’Donnell, Maeve O’Rourke, James M. Smith, and Mari Steed
Between 1922 and 1996, over 10,000 girls and women were imprisoned in Magdalene Laundries, including those considered ‘promiscuous’, a burden to their families or the state, those who had been sexually abused or raised in the care of the Church and State, and unmarried mothers. These girls and women were subjected to forced labour as well as psychological and physical maltreatment. Using the Irish State’s own report into the Magdalene institutions, as well as testimonies from survivors and independent witnesses, this book gives a detailed account of life behind the high walls of Ireland’s Magdalene institutions.
The book offers an overview of the social, cultural and political contexts of institutional survivor activism, the Irish State’s response culminating in the McAleese Report, and the formation of the Justice for Magdalenes campaign, a volunteer-run survivor advocacy group. Ireland and the Magdalene Laundries documents the ongoing work carried out by the Justice for Magdalenes group in advancing public knowledge and research into Magdalene Laundries, and how the Irish State continues to evade its responsibilities not just to survivors of the Magdalenes but also in providing a truthful account of what happened. Drawing from a variety of primary sources, this book reveals the fundamental flaws in the state’s investigation and how the treatment of the burials, exhumation and cremation of former Magdalene women remains a deeply troubling issue today, emblematic of the system of torture and studious official neglect in which the Magdalene women lived their lives.
The Authors are donating all royalties in the name of the women who were held in the Magdalenes to EPIC (Empowering People in Care).
Twice a Daughter: A Search for Identity, Family, and Belonging
by Julie Ryan McGue
Julie is adopted. She is also a twin. Because their adoption was closed, she and her sister lack both a health history and their adoption papers―which becomes an issue for Julie when, at forty-eight years old, she finds herself facing several serious health issues. To launch the probe into her closed adoption, Julie first needs the support of her sister. The twins talk things over, and make a pact: Julie will approach their adoptive parents for the adoption paperwork and investigate search options, and the sisters will split the costs involved in locating their birth relatives. But their adoptive parents aren’t happy that their daughters want to locate their birth parents―and that is only the first of many obstacles Julie will come up against as she digs into her background. Julie’s search for her birth relatives spans years and involves a search agency, a PI, a confidential intermediary, a judge, an adoption agency, a social worker, and a genealogist. By journey’s end, what began as a simple desire for a family medical history has evolved into a complicated quest―one that unearths secrets, lies, and family members that are literally right next door.
A Timeline of the Injustice of Adoption Law
by Darryl Nelson
A Timeline of the Injustice of Adoption Law traces Australian laws affecting thousands, back to the US theories of eugenics, then back to Britain. It highlights the various notions of ‘the best interests of the child’ in law, over time, and shows how the poor treatment of single mothers came about. How this still affects families today. It is invaluable for those wanting to understand their place in history, and how small ideas over time snowballed to negatively affect the lives of many adoptees and their natural mothers even today.
by Tiana Nobile
In her debut collection, Tiana Nobile grapples with the history of transnational adoption, both her own from South Korea and the broader, collective experience. In conversation with psychologist Harry Harlow’s monkey experiments and utilizing fragments of a highly personal cache of documents from her own adoption, these poems explore dislocation, familial relationships, and the science of love and attachment.
A Rona Jaffe Foundation award winner, Nobile is a glimmering new talent. Cleave attempts to unknot the complexities of adoptee childhood, revealing a nature of opposites—”the child cleaved to her mother / the child cleaved from her mother”—while reckoning with the histories that make us.
Life In-Between: A Story of Adoption, Recovery and Connection
by Julia F. Richardson
Born in 1958 and given up for adoption Julia’s story is an exploration of a search for love, belonging and identity. It is a story of relinquishment and reunion, of trauma and hope. It is a tale of overcoming addiction and learning to live with becoming real. This is a ‘coming out’ story.
Julia uses her story telling and poetry to show us how the search for her true self along with deep connection was a necessary part of her healing and recovery. “I am a writer and an artist. I am a dreamer. I am woman, wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, adoptee, adventurer, truth seeker, colour loving, nature worshipping, sun loving English person who is genetically and spiritually connected to islands and mystery and sea and sky.”
This book is for anyone who has felt that they aren’t good enough. Whether you are an adoptee or a birth parent, an adoptive parent or a human being who has experienced loss and trauma, you will understand and relate to Julia’s search for herself. The journey is one towards a realisation of being real and how the healing from trauma needs us to find relationship and connection. Ultimately this is a story of re-connection with self.
Unnatural Selection: A Memoir of Adoption and Wilderness
by Andrea Ross
Adopted at birth, Andrea Ross grew up inhabiting two ecosystems: one was her tangible, adoptive family, the other her birth family, whose mysterious landscape was hidden from her. In this coming-of-age memoir, Ross narrates how in her early twenties, while working as a ranger in Grand Canyon National Park, she embarked on a journey to discover where she came from and, ultimately, who she was. After many missteps and dead ends, Ross uncovered her heartbreaking and inspiring origin story and began navigating the complicated turns of reuniting with her birth parents and their new families. Through backcountry travel in the American West, she also came to understand her place in the world, realizing that her true identity lay not in a choice between adopted or biological parents, but in an expansion of the concept of family.
Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping
by Matthew Salesses
The traditional writing workshop was established with white male writers in mind; what we call craft is informed by their cultural values. In this bold and original examination of elements of writing–including plot, character, conflict, structure, and believability–and aspects of workshop–including the silenced writer and the imagined reader– Matthew Salesses asks questions to invigorate these familiar concepts. He upends Western notions of how a story must progress. How can we rethink craft, and the teaching of it, to better reach writers with diverse backgrounds? How can we invite diverse storytelling traditions into literary spaces?
Drawing from examples including One Thousand and One Nights, Curious George, Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, and the Asian American classic No-No Boy, Salesses asks us to reimagine craft and the workshop. In the pages of exercises included here, teachers will find suggestions for building syllabi, grading, and introducing new methods to the classroom; students will find revision and editing guidance, as well as a new lens for reading their work.
Salesses shows that we need to interrogate the lack of diversity at the core of published fiction: how we teach and write it. After all, as he reminds us, “When we write fiction, we write the world.”
Omma, Sea of Joy and Other Astrological Signs
by Bo Schwabacher
This remarkable book illuminates Schwabacher’s adopted Korean experience: trauma, discovery, reassemblage. She is brave enough to not flinch at the dark parts and talented enough to render them into a gorgeous, singular art. The anti-fairy tale has been made new. It is a splayed open heart. Fierce talent and grace on the page. I don’t say this lightly, but time and time again these poems took my breath and changed me. This is what poetry ought to be. This is a stunning, healing, necessary debut. –Lee Herrick
You’ll Always Be White To Me: A Memoir
by Garon Wade
Three years in to Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war, an abandoned baby ends up in the adopted arms of a white American couple living in a Colombo home that doubles as a CIA safe house. They take him on an extraordinary journey around the globe as he’s launched into the diplomatic world of ambassadors, UN workers, and international schools. Each summer he returns to the bayous of his parents’ small-town Louisiana, as exotic to him as the golden South African savannahs of his early childhood. He’s curious to know this America, a country he may someday be a part of. But with sincere love comes racism wrapped in the drawling sweetness of his grandparents’ good intentions.
Garon Wade’s transcendent memoir is an international coming-of-age story that explores how the heart of an orphan grew to love a world that didn’t always love him back. You’ll Always Be White To Me asks us who we are, what our common humanity is, and if it’s possible to look beyond our color and find our way there.
Finding My Way Home
by Kirsten Weatherford
Finding My Way Home is a journey. It is a journey across the ocean, across the country, and out of the adoptee fog. The roadmap that was hidden away by a 1970s closed adoption is unearthed, and the trail begins to clear. It leads not only to place, but to people. The trek covers countless miles and spans years of time that eventually lead right back to the only person who was there for every step of the journey, the author herself. It is a tale of physical travel that parallels the personal quest many adoptees struggle to navigate, the pathway to knowing themselves.