Parenting/International Adoption Books

After being home with our son Ezra for just over six months, I thought it would be a good time to review and discuss some of that parenting/international adoption books that have been helpful for our family both as we prepared to travel and since he’s been home.  First of all, if you are waiting to be matched or go pick up your child, READ ALL YOU CAN NOW! As most parents have found, reading books is one of those things that can be difficult when you have a little one in the house. I also found that during the long wait for a referral , court, birth certificate, etc., it was great to have lots to read to keep my mind off the waiting.

In terms of books about international and transracial adoption, by far my favorite is Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen. It came out in 2008 and is by far the most international-adoption-specific book available. It has great tools that can help families from “your first hours together through the teen years.” Cogen adopted her daughter from China and has led groups for families with internationally adopted children for years. She coins her approach “proactive parenting” and discusses ways parents of internationally adopted children can nurture their child’s identity, connection, and resiliency. She gives hands-on tools throughout the book that are appropriate to different stages of development and also uses a fictional group of parents/children to illustrate some typical issues faced by internationally adopted kids and to show how these tools can help.

 I found Cogen’s book much more useful than Deborah Gray’s books Nurturing Adoptions or Attaching In Adoption, which while they are helpful, seem to be more relevant to foster adoptions. However, the latter two books do go into the science of attachment and attachment disorders in a way that I find fascinating. Also, there are sections in Gray’s books that deal with grief, trauma, loss, cultural change, race, getting medical diagnoses, working with mental health providers, etc. 

Some good books that are specific to transracial adoption are In Their Own Voices by Simon and Roorda in which transracial adoptees tell their own stories.  I think this is an essential book to read if you are considering a transracial adoption. Also, Jaiya John’s Black Baby White Hands, about his experience as a transracial adoptee in the 70s in New Mexico, is very enlightening.  I know there are other great transracial adoption books out there, so please feel free to list your favorites in the comments section on this blog post. I also loved I’m Chocolate, You’re Vanilla, “Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World” by Marguerite Wright.

In terms of general parenting books, some I like are Parenting from the Inside Out, “How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive” by Siegel and Hartzell, Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn, and The Science of Parenting by Margot Sunderland. Of course, all of Dr. Barry Sears books like The Baby Book and Attachment Parenting are great resources.  I think Alfie Kohn’s thoughts on unconditional parenting (a parenting approach based on unconditional love and not on reward and punishment) are especially relevant to parenting adopted children. He cites copious amounts of research that call into question many parenting styles that have become popular today but that aren’t based on any research and may in fact be quite detrimental to children’s psycho-emotional development. The Science of Parenting also looks at brain development and current brain research and how that can inform our parenting in such a way that we raise happy, emotionally balanced children.

I hope you have found these suggestions helpful. Again, feel free to add your own recommendations to the comments on this post. Happy reading!!!

-Jane Gregorie

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