Edited 2/28/19: Since we published this post back in December 2018, we’ve discovered four additional books by adoptees that were published in 2018, bringing the total up to twenty-four!
This has been a big year for adoptee literature. In 2018, we posted
twenty twenty-four new books written by adoptees! For your holiday shopping convenience, here they are in one tidy list.
Through Adopted Eyes: A Collection of Memoirs From Adoptees
Edited by Elena S. Hall
Through Adopted Eyes explores the world of adoption from the viewpoint of adoptees. Russian adoptee Elena S. Hall shares her own story and thoughts on the subject of adoption in addition to interviews from other adoptees of different ages, heritages, and perspectives. Whether you are an adoptive parent, curious about adoption, or an adoptee yourself, this unique collection of memoirs provides real insight into lives directly impacted by adoption.
Mixed Korean: Our Stories
Edited by Cerrissa Kim, Sora Kim-Russell, Mary-Kim Arnold, Katherine Kim
From the struggles of the Korean War, to the modern dilemmas faced by those who are mixed race, comes an assortment of stories that capture the essence of what it is to be a mixed Korean. With common themes of exclusion, and recollections of not looking Korean enough, black enough, white enough, or “other” enough, this powerful collection features works by award winning authors Alexander Chee, Michael Croley, Heinz Insu Fenkl, Joel Peterson, and Victoria Namkung, alongside pieces composed by prominent writers, poets, and scholars. Interwoven between known literary names are the voices of newcomers with powerful memories that have never been captured before. Collectively, these stories will resonate with anyone who has ever stood on the outside of a group longing for inclusion. They are a testament to the courage, strength, and resilience of mixed people everywhere. All proceeds will be donated to 325Kamra.org and KoreanAmericanStory.org.
My Life: The Journey Of An Adoptee
by Jim Armstrong
My Life is an autobiography of my life as an adopted child. Adoption can be an emotional roller coaster for many adopted children. In this book i have provided my life journey and wish to share my journey so other adopted people know that they are not alone.
The Last Year
by Amelia Banis
Being adopted is one thing. Being adopted and navigating the complexities of having unexpected relationships with both biological parents is something quite different. Having two sets of parents can be an incredible gift, but it can also be unimaginably complicated and challenging. Its often filled with mixed emotions of the past for everyone involved. In The Last Year, author Amelia Banis shares her story as an adoptee. She tells about the exhilarating and heartbreaking twists and turns in the search for understanding her past as well as how she moved forward with a whole new future. Touching and honest, this memoir speaks to one woman’s experiences caring for her dying adoptive father in the last year of his life. Sharing the chronicle of their sometimes strained relationship and her own journey to meet her biological parents, Banis narrates her story to help others learn to let go, forgive, and face the turbulent emotions of the passing of loved ones, even when those relationships are troubled.
Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth
by David B. Bohl
In this poignant and powerful memoir, David B. Bohl reveals the inner turmoil and broad spectrum of warring emotions shame, anger, triumph, shyness, pride he experienced growing up as a relinquished boy. Adopted at birth by a prosperous family, Bohl battled throughout his earlier years to keep up a good front and surpass expectations as he tried desperately to fit in. An over-achiever at everything he undertook, whether in sailing, academics, or life as a trader on the Chicago Exchange floor, he continued his search for happiness, often finding it in a bottle or pill, and ultimately becoming a raging and wealthy alcoholic. Not until David marries and has children of his own does he feel compelled to search for his birth parents to discover if genetics played a role in the well-being of his offspring. “Baby Boy Bender,” as he was labeled in the adoption papers, had been born to a red-haired co-ed who struggled with alcoholism and an athlete who later died of a brain tumor. After several severe seizures and frequent blackouts, it was time to make a drastic change and admit his addiction. Raised with no religious teachings, David struggled with traditional recovery fellowships and sought out secular supports, where he finally fit in. This approach allowed him to learn the stark facts about mental health and addiction, as well as the monumental issues many reliquishees need to overcome to find peace and a quality of life they deserve.
All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir
by Nicole Chung
What does it mean to lose your roots―within your culture, within your family―and what happens when you find them? Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up―facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from―she wondered if the story she’d been told was the whole truth. With warmth, candor, and startling insight, Nicole Chung tells of her search for the people who gave her up, which coincided with the birth of her own child. All You Can Ever Know is a profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets―vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong.
Bitterroot: A Salish Memoir of Transracial Adoption
Susan Devan Harness
In Bitterroot, Susan Devan Harness traces her journey to understand the complexities and struggles of being an American Indian child adopted by a white couple and living in the rural American West. When Harness was fifteen years old, she questioned her adoptive father about her “real” parents. He replied that they had died in a car accident not long after she was born—except they hadn’t, as Harness would learn in a conversation with a social worker a few years later. Harness’s search for answers revolved around her need to ascertain why she was the target of racist remarks and why she seemed always to be on the outside looking in. New questions followed her through college and into her twenties when she started her own family. Meeting her biological family in her early thirties generated even more questions. In her forties Harness decided to get serious about finding answers when, conducting oral histories, she talked with other transracial adoptees. In her fifties she realized that the concept of “home” she had attributed to the reservation existed only in her imagination. Making sense of her family, the American Indian history of assimilation, and the very real—but culturally constructed—concept of race helped Harness answer the often puzzling questions of stereotypes, a sense of nonbelonging, the meaning of family, and the importance of forgiveness and self-acceptance. In the process Bitterroot also provides a deep and rich context in which to experience life.
Nearly 50 years after he was relinquished for adoption, Rudy Owens learned how fortunate life can be. In 2014 in San Diego, Owens met his biological half-sister for the first time. That meeting inspired Owens to tell his adoption story set against the larger adoption narrative that has impacted millions of adoptees, their birth parents, and their collective biological and adoptive families. Owens’s memoir offers insights on the widespread American institution of adoption, a national social-engineering experiment that remains mired in discriminatory laws and partisan politics, not equality and fairness. Owens’s lifelong journey as an adoptee unravels the controversies and complexities of adoption. That adventure started in the mid-1960s, with his birth in a Detroit hospital created to serve socially scorned single mothers and place their infants for adoption. Twenty-four years later, he finally met his birth family and learned of his biological family history. It would take another quarter century and a bitter legal battle for the State of Michigan to release his sealed birth certificate that it illegally held for decades. Owens combines his successful family discovery story with public health and evolutionary biology research to highlight the importance of kin relations and the damaging myths and archetypal prejudices that still cloud popular views of illegitimate children and adoption in the United States. Instead of seeing his experience as a loss, Owens finds greater purpose in having dedicated decades of his life to answering life’s most essential question, “Who am I?” His lifelong journey for his original birth records, full equality before the law, and his ancestral history ultimately gave him the makings of a meaningful life.
by Zara H. Phillips
Zara H. Phillips seemed to live a charmed life — backing singer to the stars with an incredible career here and across the Atlantic — but her smile masked a difficult childhood and the reality that she was adopted as a baby in the ’60s. Her life soon spiraled and, as a teenager, she suffered from drug and alcohol addiction as she struggled to find her birth parents and her true identity. Somebody’s Daughter is a fascinating and revealing account of how a beautiful woman’s life has been dominated by her adoption and how it has affected her and those around her. Hard-hitting and emotional, Zara’s memoir explores the needs of adopted children, with her characteristic warmth and wit, and the true journey it takes to find where you belong.
Too Much Soul: The Journey of an Asian Southern Belle
by Cindy Wilson
Join Cindy on her journey from being adopted in Seoul, Korea, by an African American couple to growing up in the Dirty South–Jackson, Mississippi! See how she fights and loves her way through life as she searches for her identity and discovers her place in the world despite the strongholds that society tries to place on her. As unique as her life is, what will resonate is the humanity of her experiences with her family, friends, those that have impacted her life as well as the lives of those she has impacted. Become a part of her growth and glow as she continues on her journey of self-discovery, encouraging herself and others to be their most empowered, authentic selves!
Odyssey of a Belief: An Adoptee’s Journal
by Joe Wh. Zychik
Odyssey of a Belief is a compelling chronicle about triumph over seemingly hopeless circumstances. The author spent the first six years of his life in eight different homes and two foster centers while being parented by seven different mothers, one grandmother, and who knows how many different fathers until he was adopted by a violent, deranged couple. His adoptive father attempted to murder him. His adoptive mother tried to sexually seduce him. He dropped out of high school. He committed petty crimes. By the time he was 21 he wasn’t qualified for anything beyond flipping hamburgers, scrubbing floors and washing dishes. Despite the cruelties he suffered, he went on to help others overcome addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, overeating, and smoking. Couples used his advice to save their marriages. The distressed, the addicted, the sad and the lonely found joy and purpose in life through his help. He is 72 years old, financially successful, in excellent health, and happily married to the woman he’s been with for 40 years. In a world filled with self-pity, anger and hate, Odyssey of a Belief is a much needed true story about the better side of human nature.
Litany for the Long Moment
by Mary-Kim Arnold
The orphan at the center of Litany for the Long Moment is without homeland and without language. In three linked lyric essays, Arnold attempts to claim her own linguistic, cultural, and aesthetic lineage. Born in Korea and adopted to the U.S. as a child, she explores the interconnectedness of language and identity through the lens of migration and cultural rupture. Invoking artists, writers, and thinkers—Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Francesca Woodman, Susan Sontag, among others—Litany for the Long Moment interweaves personal documents, images, and critical texts as a means to examine loss and longing.
An Adoptee Lexicon
by Karen Pickell
Lyrical and informative, An Adoptee Lexicon is a glossary of adoption terminology from the viewpoint of an adult adoptee. Contemplating religion, politics, science, and human rights, Karen Pickell, who was born and adopted in the late 1960s, intersperses personal commentary and snippets from her own experience with history and statistics pertaining to child development and the adoption industry. The collection of micro essays is presented as an organically ordered glossary, along with a robust list of sources and suggested reading as well as an alphabetical index, creating layers of association between words commonly used when discussing adoption. Pickell draws connections between contemporary American political issues and the social climate that led to a tsunami of adoptions in the decades following World War II through the early 1970s–a period known as the Baby Scoop Era–and also touches on the complexity of transracial and international adoptions. Throughout An Adoptee Lexicon, the focus remains firmly on adopted people–their perceptions, their needs, and their right to fully exist in exactly the way non-adopted people do.
by J S Lee
Shay Stone lies in a hospital bed, catatonic—dead to the world. Her family thinks it’s a ploy for attention. Doctors believe it’s the result of an undisclosed trauma. At the mercy of memories and visitations, Shay unearths secrets that may have led to her collapse. Will she remain paralyzed in denial? Or can she accept the unfathomable and break free? Keurium threads through one adopted Korean American’s life of longing and letting go. On a quest for family, sanity, and survival, it challenges saviorism and forced gratitude. Woven through its heartbreaking fabric is a story of love and resilience.
Famous Adopted People
by Alice Stephens
Lisa Pearl is an American teaching English in Japan and the situation there―thanks mostly to her spontaneous, hard-partying ways―has become problematic. Now she’s in Seoul, South Korea, with her childhood best-friend Mindy. The young women share a special bond: they are both Korean-born adoptees into white American families. Mindy is in Seoul to track down her birth mom, and wants Lisa to do the same. Trouble is, Lisa isn’t convinced she needs to know about her past, much less meet her biological mother. She’d much rather spend time with Harrison, an almost supernaturally handsome local who works for the MotherFinder’s agency. When Lisa wakes up inside a palatial mountain compound, the captive of a glamorous, surgically-enhanced blonde named Honey, she soon realizes she is going to learn about her past whether she likes it or not. What happens next only could in one place: North Korea.
Desire: A Haunting
by Molly Gaudry
Traumatized by the events of We Take Me Apart, the unlikely heroine of Desire: A Haunting leads a silent life in the cottage that has been in her family since Hester Prynne first bequeathed it to Pearl–whose endearingly cranky spirit remains. So begins this strange friendship between “dog” and a ghost calling herself “Ogie.” A different kind of love story, Desire is about how dog and Ogie learn to care for each other after only pretending to at first, about how they adopt a ghost child named William whose fascination with holidays brings celebration to the cottage, and about how long-ago dresses made from flowers stitch the three of them closer and invites new spirit into their lives.
Black Steel Magnolias in the Hour of Chaos Theory
by James Cagney
The poems in Black Steel Magnolias in the Hour of Chaos Theory interrogate identity, family, loneliness, and the expectations of masculinity. Using dreams, blues, and a chorus of voices, this collection of poems examines the complexities of intimacy for an adopted person trying to find balance between two families–one rattled by age and illness; the other, holding space for a son that doesn’t exist.
by Jennifer Kwon Dobbs
In Interrogation Room, award-winning poet Jennifer Kwon Dobbs’s second collection, poems restore redacted speech and traverse forbidden borders to confront the unending Korean War’s divisions of kinship, self, and imagination.
Not My White Savior: A Memoir in Poems
by Julayne Lee
Julayne Lee was born in South Korea to a mother she never knew. When she was an infant, she was adopted by a white Christian family in Minnesota, where she was sent to grow up. Not My White Savior is a memoir in poems, exploring what it is to be a transracial and inter-country adoptee, and what it means to grow up being constantly told how better your life is because you were rescued from your country of origin. Following Julayne Lee from Korea to Minnesota and finally to Los Angeles, Not My White Savior asks what does “better” mean? In which ways was the journey she went on better than what she would have otherwise experienced? Not My White Savior is angry, brilliant, unapologetic, and unforgiving. A vicious ride of a book that is sure to spark discussion and debate.
Other Words for Grief
by Lisa Marie Rollins
“The poems gathered in Other Words For Grief, are a spotlight turned inward. As Lisa Marie Rollins relentlessly searches the interior with a hot light scanning blood and baby pictures; sexual encounters nearly gone awry as well as family encounters that fall short, we are moved through her fantastic string of action: ‘What I know is black bodies are dropping. Crickets after the crop duster flies overhead. Mist to inhale and wrap our little shells so we disappear from the land quietly. What if his body was already coated in blood from watching reels and reels and miles and miles of footage of black bodies falling.’ Here is activity that not only provides detailed motion of an experience, but Rollins also elevates the moment, and brilliantly leads us to fully see ourselves, ‘this is how you call impossible/ ideas into being […] this is how you light candle spells. this is how you be.’ Other Words For Grief is a consuming debut that asks the hard questions one rather avoid, but leaves us better off than where we started, ‘so all we need do now is raise the dead.'” –F. Douglas Brown
Season of Dares
by Leah Silvieus
Season of Dares leans into fragments of the scriptures, narratives and mythologies of a Korean adoptee’s childhood in the rural American West. Fearlessly, it revisits and explores the physical and spiritual landscapes of those communities and the tensions between the impulses that shaped them–violence and tenderness, stoicism and sentimentalism, self-reliance and belief in divine providence.
MAY 2014. The Irish public woke to the horrific discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of almost 800 babies in the “Angels’ Plot’ of Tuam’s Mother and Baby Home. What followed would rock the last vestiges of Catholic Ireland, enrage an increasingly secularised nation, and lead to a Commission of Inquiry. In The Adoption Machine, Paul Jude Redmond, Chairperson of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes Survivors, who himself was born in the Castlepollard Home, candidly reveals the shocking history of one of the worst abuses of Church power since the foundation of the Irish State. From Bessboro, Castlepollard, and Sean Ross Abbey to St. Patrick’s and Tuam, a dark shadow was cast by the collusion between Church and State in the systematic repression of women and the wilful neglect of illegitimate babies, resulting in the deaths of thousands. It was Paul’s exhaustive research that widened the global media’s attention to all the homes and revealed Tuam as just the tip of the iceberg of the horrors that lay beneath. He further reveals the vast profits generated by selling babies to wealthy adoptive parents, and details how infants were volunteered to a pharmaceutical company for drug trials without the consent of their natural mothers. Interwoven throughout is Paul’s poignant and deeply personal journey of discovery as he attempts to find his own natural mother. The Adoption Machine exposes this dark history of Ireland’s shameful and secret past, and the efforts to bring it into the light. It is a history from which there is no turning away.
The Girl and the Grove
by Eric Smith
Teenager Leila’s life is full of challenges. From bouncing around the foster care system to living with seasonal affective disorder, she’s never had an easy road. Leila keeps herself busy with her passion for environmental advocacy, monitoring the Urban Ecovists message board and joining a local environmental club with her best friend Sarika. And now that Leila has finally been adopted, she dares to hope her life will improve. But the voices in Leila’s head are growing louder by the day. Ignoring them isn’t working anymore. Something calls out to her from the grove at Fairmount Park.
Frankie and Friends Talk Adoption
by Pam Kroskie and Marcie Keithley
Frankie and Friends will help the youngest of adopted children and their parents navigate through the feelings often experienced but difficult to articulate. The narrator is Frankie, a lovable character who warmly validates what an adopted child may be feeling and that they are all okay! As a parent, it’s a must have guide and discussion starter.
Are we missing a book published in 2018 you think should be on our list? Let us know here.