Join us in celebrating the invaluable contributions of Black authors, creators, and educators this February—and all year long. In honor of Black History Month, we are highlighting profound works covering adoption, foster care, and kinship care by Black researchers and storytellers.
If any of these books spark your interest, consider purchasing from a Black-owned bookstore.
Finding Fish: A Memoir
by Antwone Fisher, 2001
“Baby Boy Fisher was raised in institutions from the moment of his birth in prison to a single mother. He ultimately came to live with a foster family, where he endured near-constant verbal and physical abuse. In his mid-teens he escaped and enlisted in the navy, where he became a man of the world, raised by the family he created for himself. Finding Fish shows how, out of this unlikely mix of deprivation and hope, an artist was born -- first as the child who painted the feelings his words dared not speak, then as a poet and storyteller who would eventually become one of Hollywood's most sought-after screenwriters.” Read more.
The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be: A Speculative Memoir of Transracial Adoption
by Shannon Gibney, 2023
“Part memoir, part speculative fiction, this novel explores the often surreal experience of growing up as a mixed-Black transracial adoptee. Shannon Gibney returns with a new book woven from her true story of growing up as the adopted Black daughter of white parents and the fictional story of Erin Powers, the name Shannon was given at birth by the white woman who gave her up for adoption. At its core, the novel is a tale of two girls on two different timelines occasionally bridged by a mysterious portal and their shared search for a complete picture of their origins. Gibney surrounds that story with reproductions of her own adoption documents, letters, family photographs, interviews, medical records, and brief essays on the surreal absurdities of the adoptee experience. The end result is a remarkable portrait of an American experience rarely depicted in any form.” Read more.
Growing Up Black in White
by Kevin D. Hofmann, 2010
“Growing Up Black in White by Kevin D. Hofmann is a moving and sometimes humorous look into the life of one man with a fascinating past. Born into the racially-charged Detroit of 1967 to a white mother and a black father, the author was placed into foster care and then adopted by a white minister and his wife, the parents of three biological children. Hofmann’s memoir reveals the racial tensions, the difficulties of feeling neither black nor white, his family’s loving support, and his struggles to define and embrace his own identity as he grew to be a man. This is a story of hope and promise, and how we are able to define ourselves not through the racism and judgments of a challenging society, but through our own sense of self-respect and personal identity. Kevin Hofmann came to this memoir after a lifetime of contemplation and self-analysis. After attending a national conference on adoption, he found his voice and wove it into this emotional and often amusing story. Hofmann lives with his wife and two sons in Toledo, Ohio.” Read more.
Black Anthology: Adult Adoptees Claim Their Space (The AN-YA Project)
by Susan Harris O’Connor MSW, Diane Rene Christian, Mei-Mei Akwai Ellerman PhD, 2016
“We are diverse. In no way could anyone simply summarize our beginnings. The historical, socio-political contexts from which countries we come from are culturally varied. Our identities are connected to Haiti, Germany, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Korea, Sweden, Canada, the USA and many other places not mentioned within this publication. People who identify as Black adoptees are vaguely known within both adoption circles as well as universal discussions. We are just beginning to be introduced to one another. This anthology allows for the opportunity to see the rich diversity of a people; the uniqueness within the individual stories. Inside this book, you will read the depth of struggle, and the pure grace, dignity and accomplishments achieved, sometimes connected to the privileges afforded us while in the midst of insurmountable odds." Susan Harris O'Connor, MSW. Read more.
Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare
by Dorothy Roberts, 2003
“The story of foster care in the United States is the story of the failure of the social safety net to aid poor, largely black, parents in their attempt to make a home for their children. Shattered Bonds tells this story as no other book has before -- from the perspective of a prominent black, female legal theoretician. The current state of the child-welfare system in America is a well-known tragedy. Thousands of children every year are removed from their parents' homes, often for little reason other than the endemic poverty that afflicts women and children more than any other group in the United States.” Read more.
Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families—and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World
by Dorothy Roberts, 2022
“Many believe the child welfare system protects children from abuse. But as Torn Apart uncovers, this system is designed to punish Black families. Drawing on decades of research, legal scholar and sociologist Dorothy Roberts reveals that the child welfare system is better understood as a “family policing system” that collaborates with law enforcement and prisons to oppress Black communities. Child protection investigations ensnare a majority of Black children, putting their families under intense state surveillance and regulation. Black children are disproportionately likely to be torn from their families and placed in foster care, driving many to juvenile detention and imprisonment.” Read more.
In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories
by Rita J. Simon and Rhonda M. Roorda, 2000
“Nearly forty years after researchers first sought to determine the effects, if any, on children adopted by families whose racial or ethnic background differed from their own, the debate over transracial adoption continues. In this collection of interviews conducted with black and biracial young adults who were adopted by white parents, the authors present the personal stories of two dozen individuals who hail from a wide range of religious, economic, political, and professional backgrounds. How does the experience affect their racial and social identities, their choice of friends and marital partners, and their lifestyles? In addition to interviews, the book includes overviews of both the history and current legal status of transracial adoption.” Read more.
“You Should Be Grateful”: Stories of Race, Identity, and Transracial Adoption
by Angela Tucker, 2023
“‘Your parents are so amazing for adopting you! You should be grateful that you were adopted.’
Angela Tucker is a Black woman, adopted from foster care by white parents. She has heard this microaggression her entire life, usually from well-intentioned strangers who view her adoptive parents as noble saviors. She is grateful for many aspects of her life, but being transracially adopted involves layers of rejection, loss, and complexity that cannot be summed up so easily. In “You Should Be Grateful,” Tucker centers the experiences of adoptees to share deeply personal stories, well-researched history, and engrossing anecdotes from mentorship sessions with adopted youth. These perspectives challenge the fairy-tale narrative of adoption, giving way to a fuller story that explores the impacts of racism, classism, family, love, and belonging.” Read more.
Marie Discovers Her Superpowers
by Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker, 2022
“Marie doesn't want to go to the park anymore. Mom introduces her to Dr. Chaitra, a transracial adoptee just like Marie, who helps kids talk about tough feelings. In therapy, Marie finds the courage to share how she felt when a family at the park peppered her with hurtful questions like Why don't you look like your mom? and Why didn't you stay with your real parents? Dr. Chaitra helps Marie practice many ways to respond, including sharing what feels comfortable, setting limits, and even saying nothing at all. Marie discovers that being in charge of her own adoption story is her superpower!”
Casey Conquers Bedtime
by Dr. Chaitra Wirta-Leiker, 2023
“Casey doesn't like bedtime. His parents introduce him to Dr. Chaitra, a transracial adoptee just like Casey, who explains how going to sleep and even waking up can bring up scary feelings for adopted kids. She helps Casey think about bedtime differently and combines a special story with his love of musical instruments to teach his brain and body that sleep is safe. Will Casey finally be able to conquer bedtime?”
For more children and family resources, visit Transracial Journey’s Book Corner.
Adoptee Next Door
Angela Tucker is one of America’s most recognizable voices in transracial adoption (she’s black, her parents are white), and the subject of the documentary “Closure.” She goes beyond her experience, inviting adoptees from all backgrounds in an effort to uplift these rarely heard perspectives and shift societal perceptions about adoption. Listen here.
Birth Mothers Amplified
Birth Mothers Amplified is co-hosted by friends and fellow birth mothers Muthoni and Emma. Most weeks they are joined by one or more birth mother guests to talk about adoption topics. Birth Mothers Amplified thrives on empowering the women who make adoptions possible and allowing birth parents to speak their truths and share their stories authentically. Listen here.
Black to the Beginning: The Black Adoption Podcast
Friends Dr. Samantha Coleman and Sandria Washington both discovered as adults they were adopted. Each quickly learned that Black adoption is common, but taboo to speak about in private or publicly. Black to the Beginning: The Black Adoption Podcast amplifies the adoption conversation by placing the stories of #BlackAndAdopted adults and #TheBlackFamily at the center. Listen here.
Born In June, Raised In April
Nationally recognized thought leader, April Dinwoodie, hosts a personal journey while exploring her adoption experience. We follow her as she examines her efforts to find love, identity, family, and connection. Each month April will candidly interview, discuss, and unravel, all matters surrounding adoption. Listen here.