open adoption books

Greetings, dear readers. Because you have had such great recommendations for wonderful children’s books and resources on international toddler adoption, I thought I might post this here. 

Since our decision to pursue domestic open adoption, I’ve been trying to educate myself, to the extent I can, about the complex issues and relationships involved in open adoption. As I said before, I realize there is truly no way to prepare for the reality of open adoption, short of real life experience. Still, I’ve been reading books, articles and blogs, attending meetings and workshops, and talking to people about their experience, to broaden my horizon.

In response to a few requests, I’m listing below some of the books I’ve recently read on open adoption. I’m also asking you to chime in. Please leave your notes in the comments. Thanks!

If there is a book on open adoption that you have found particularly helpful, what is it and why? I’m especially interested in what you’ve read, what it covered, why you liked or didn’t like it, and general thoughts on the book’s approach to these complex issues. 

Also, I realize the books below focus on open adoption. I have not even begun to read about attachment and other important issues in parenting children who are adopted. That will come next, I guess, though I think I’ll wait on those. Reading recommendations are welcome in the meantime.  

luna’s initial reading list:

“Making Room in Our Hearts,” by Micky Duxbury (2007). My favorite book so far offers an intimate look at the relationships in several families extended by open adoption, as told by all members of the triad. Based on interviews with more than 100 people with a connection to the open adoption experience, this book addresses common fears and concerns with heart and highlights the difference between “open” and “openness,” while maintaining a critical child-centered focus. 

“The Open Adoption Experience,” by Lois Ruskai Melina and Sharon Kaplan Roszia (1993). Informative introduction to the open adoption experience. This overview provides an understanding of the process, from establishing a relationship between a prospective adoptive family and an expectant mother, to how that relationship may evolve after placement. Excellent introduction, if a little dry, as told by two adoptive mothers. 

“Dear Birthmother: Thank You For Our Baby,” by Kathleen Silber and Phylis Speedlin (1982). This landmark book was the first to document the evolution of open adoption, from the first letter exchanges and face-to-face meetings that opened up previously closed adoptions, to confronting the common myths in traditional adoption. It has had a tremendous impact on adoption practice nationwide. While today it seems slightly dated — given the widespread evolution of modern open adoption — the reader is referred to a sequel, “Children of Open Adoption,” by Kathleen Silber and Patricia Martinez Dorner (1990), which follows some of the participants and explores some lifelong impacts on the children adopted. 

“Adoption Without Fear,” Jim Gritter (1989). Edited by the social worker who helped facilitate these early open adoptions through a Michigan catholic agency, this book compiles the stories of 17 couples who share their experience in their own words. Told strictly from the adoptive parents perspective, it shares their emotional journey but feels somehow incomplete. Also religion plays a significant role.  

“The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant,” by Dan Savage (2000).  A candid, humorous real life account of the open adoption process by a sex columnist and his partner, who happen to be gay. A great read and a more compelling story than you might think. 

on luna’s shelf for future reading:

“Raising Adopted Children: Practical Reassuring Advice for Every Adoptive Parent” by Lois Ruskai Melina (2002)

“Adoption Nation: How the Adoption Revolution is Transforming America,” by Adam Pertman (2001)

“Children of Open Adoption,” by Kathleen Silber and Patricia Martinez Dorner (1990)

“Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections” (2006-7)


~ by luna on October 8, 2008.

11 Responses to “open adoption books”

  1. That’s a great start. I’d also add Twnety Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge.

    Also, there’s the topic of getting age appropriate books for your child to put on their bookshelf too.

    I’m enjoying your blog and have walked the path you are on.


  2. I liked the one by Jana Wolff Secret thoughts of an Adoptive Mother among some of those you already have here (ie I second the twenty things suggestion.)

  3. I read 20 questions when my daughter was a baby. It seemed then like a lot what the writer described came from having a closed adoption, from not knowing. It will be several years before I know if having an open adoption makes a difference for my kids.

    Thank you for the peek into these other books.

  4. This is a great list – and includes several that I haven’t yet read. I have a post brewing for my own blog where I’ll list the books I’ve read about adoption (open and otherwise), so I’ll hold off putting any books here in the comments for now. I do have to put in another plug for The Kid, though.

  5. I’ll throw the question onto the LFCA tomorrow.

  6. Duxbury’s book is excellent, isn’t it? It’s my go-to recommendation at the moment.

    Gritter’s “The Spirit of Open Adoption” is the probably the best presentation of the philosophy behind open adoption that I’ve read. It’s also one of the most poorly edited books I’ve read in awhile, which made it a frustrating read at times.

    Fessler’s “The Girls Who Went Away” is an engrossing, emotional look at a narrow slice of birthmothers’ experiences in the period between WWII and Roe v. Wade. Although not explicitly about open adoption, it is about the period to which the open adoption movement was responding when it began.

  7. I hope you can come to and post some there. Also Micky Duxbury has a wonderful book about open adoption. I think it’s the best one really: Making Room in Our Hearts

  8. Keep learning. It’s one heck of a ride. We just had our youngest’s five year Gotcha’ Day. Five years of open adoption … and now we’ve recently added two more children from Haiti, and just located their birth family recently!!

    It so enriches our lives, even when there are kinks.

  9. […] open adoption was still somewhat of an abstraction to us. I had begun to read a lot about it (in books, articles and blogs), we had seen the beauty and love in families extended through open adoption, […]

  10. […] on your favorite children’s books, I got some fantastic responses. (When I wrote about books on open adoption, some of you shared your favorites then […]

  11. I just stopped back here from the other link and wanted to say I read “Adoption Nation” but found it really very repetitive – the author is a journalist and seems to have taken about 5 good, short newspaper articles and stretched and padded them into a book.

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