Preparing for our foster-adopt journey was difficult. I am and always will be one of those people who believes that you can learn everything about anything through books, and this motto has never failed me. But it almost let me down when it came to adoption. Where was the What to Expect when You're Adopting manual that other moms get to read? Where were the stories on what was going to take place on this crazy ride?
Unfortunately I didn't know anyone who had been before me that I could ask for their favorite reads, so I had to do some digging. I Googled and browsed libraries and perused Amazon and asked my social workers (they always know at least one or two to recommend to you). Some books I put down after a few pages (because boring) and some I've read more than once. Here's my pick of the litter.
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If there was a What to Expect for adoption, this book I think would be it. I devoured it in a day and then promptly read it again. It's mostly centered on older children, with the youngest kids talked about being ages 4&5, but I still think it's a pretty enlightening read. It doesn't just focus on foster care but touches on international adoption as well. It's easy to understand, and reads more like a novel. My favorite part was how she interspersed other adoptive parent stories throughout the whole thing.
This one is a memoir of a girl who was adopted as a teenager out of foster care, and is honestly a little scary. This poor girl had terrible foster care experiences before she finally became adopted. I wouldn't say that it's an accurate portrayal on the system as a whole (because I know there are plenty of awesome foster parents out there) but it does give a pretty good look into what can go on in a foster child's life and might help you identify a little bit more. I also loved the way she spoke about her biological mother. I thought that was the most helpful to understand how a foster child thinks and it still helps me to remember her voice when I'm having this discussion with my kids.
I recently started reading this, and while I'm not finished yet I am already kicking myself for not picking this one up BEFORE we brought home our children. It's like an easy-to-read psychology book about what happens when kids come from hard places. It's also like a parenting book specifically for adoptive parents. I should have put this one as number one because you want to make sure you read this one.
Post-adoption blues is a topic so rarely talked about in the adoption community. It discusses the expectations we have as parents bringing children into our homes as well as the expectations we place on our family, friends, and community. It examines the challenges of adoption in relation to those expectations and helps you to confront the stress and depression we might feel when expectations aren't met. I really wish I had picked this up before I started having crazy negative feelings like I wasn't good enough. Turns out, it was more that even my really low expectations were too high and I was getting frustrated with not having my reality match up with what I had spent time dreaming about.
We might hopefully maybe one day soon be gearing up for older child adoption, so I've already started to research what books I should be reading next. But tell me, what's missing from this list??
Caitlin is the founder and creator of Respite Redefined. She is the wife of one and mother of two daughters through adoption from foster care. Caitlin loves to read, to write, and to dream of the places she'll go and the sights she'll see and the new kids she'll one day meet.