Five Adoption Books You Should Read {from an Adoptee Turned Adoption Social Worker}


As an adoption social worker, I have created a list of my top five book recommendations for adoptive parents and their support group. I’m an adoptee myself, and I love passing along information on parenting, adoption, trauma, and attachment.

Five Adoption Books You Should Read

The Connected Child 

by Dr. Karyn Purvis, Dr. David Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine

The late Dr. Karyn Purvis changed the world of parenting adopted and foster care children. This book is a powerful tool for parents by being both helpful and hopeful. She identifies common emotional and behavioral struggles of adopted children while offering effective parenting advice in an easy-to-read format. It is validating, informative, and empowering.

This is a required read for each adoptive family I work alongside. It’s also a guide for my own parenting practices. If you are an adoptive parent, this is a great book to ask your child’s additional caregivers to read. Many of our adoptive families say that their copy of The Connected Child sits next to their Bible.

This summer, Dr. Purvis’s team is releasing a companion book called The Connected Parent, which is on my personal reading list. You can also visit for a series of helpful videos and articles from Dr. Purvis and her team.



The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child 

by Wendy Verrier

This book is not for the faint of heart. It’s a heavy hitter on the personal and emotional challenges experienced by adopted children. It is written from the perspective of an adoptive mother reflecting on the struggles she endured in parenting her own adopted child. It’s paired with research on adoption and how children are impacted by the loss of their biological connections.

As an adoptee, reading this book was powerful. While I did not relate to all the struggles and challenges presented, I could’ve written many parts myself.

This book was written in 1993 before most of the research on adoption and parenting became readily accessible to the public. There is not much hope offered within these pages. However, for a child struggling with their identity as an adoptee and/or with the loss of their biological family, having a parent or caregiver understand that deeply is invaluable.

Twenty Things Adopted Children Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew

by Sherrie Eldridge 

This book does a wonderful job relaying adopted children’s emotional needs. It’s similar to The Primal Wound but is written from an adult adoptee’s perspective. It’s also an easier read. It begins with a small section about the loss infants experience when taken from their birth mothers and placed into the arms of strangers (their adoptive family). This book features short chapters highlighting common thoughts, struggles, and experiences of adoptees. 

As an adoptee, I found this to be an extremely validating read. This information is a powerful tool in the hands of adoptive parents.

Parenting from the Inside Out

by Dan Siegle and Mary Hartzell

Parenting from the Inside Out is co-written by one of the leading experts in brain science, Dr. Dan Siegel. This book explores the way our own experiences impact our brain, which in turn impacts our emotional and mental responses to behaviors and experiences.

It is a great tool for going deeper in self-reflection and self-awareness, which will ideally lead to more attuned, connected parenting.

This book is great for all parents, but it’s especially great for adoptive parents parenting children impacted by trauma. These children will likely exhibit more challenging behaviors and have a great need for attachment and nurturance.

In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories

by Rita J. Simon and Rhonda Roorda

This book is a great resource for Caucasian adoptive parents of an African American child or an African American-Caucasian child. This book includes interviews of 12 transracial adoptees. All 12 interviewees are African American or African American-Caucasian raised by Caucasian parents. They share their experiences as transracial adoptees with great focus on the formation of their identity.

Listening to others’ experiences is the best way to learn how to parent a child of another race. It also provides a brief summary of research and political viewpoints on transracial adoption. This gives an informative and challenging look at some of the social implications faced by transracial families.



These adoption books are just a few of the many great resources out there for adoptive families. What have you found that has greatly impacted your understanding of adoption or your parenting of adopted children? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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Caitlin moved to Alabama from Virginia as a young child and has lived in and around Birmingham since. She earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from The University of Alabama and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She currently works full-time at a local, nonprofit child welfare agency, Agape of Central Alabama, and holds the title of Adoption Supervisor. She oversees both domestic and international adoption and specializes in educating families on attachment based, trauma sensitive parenting. As a parent, and a domestic adoptee, Caitlin finds great joy and fulfillment in her profession. Three years ago, 1 month before her 30th birthday, Caitlin was reunited with her biological family. Caitlin has since developed relationships with members of her biological family and has shared those experiences with her adoptive family. Personally and professionally, she has been surrounded by some of the bravest of women, from all sides of the adoption triad, who have greatly impacted her view of the world and her identity as a mother. She currently calls Bluff Park home, where she lives with her husband Wally, of 13 years, and their three children, Rowan, age 6, Elliot, age 3, and Remy, age 1. In her free time, you can find her working out in her makeshift garage gym, drinking copious amounts of coffee, or working hard to make the people around her laugh.