Adoptee Lit

Below are books I have read about the adoption experience, in particular from the little known or understood perspective of the adoptee.

Plus books about the existence and consequence of separation at birth from the mother and the effect of that pre-verbal trauma on the brain and the subsequent lived experience, of behaviours that manifest as a result, and of the healing that suits that particular predicament.

Those in BOLD I have read and reviewed, otherwise I have linked to the description of the book on Goodreads.

Adoptee Memoirs (written by an Adoptee) #adopteevoices

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung (US) (2018)

You Don’t Look Adopted by Anne Heffron (US) (2016)

Never Stop Walking, A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World by Christina Rickardsson (Brazil/Sweden) translated by Tara F. Chace (Swedish) (2018)

An Affair With My Mother by Catriona Palmer (Ireland) (2016)

A Long Way Home (Lion), Saroo Brierley (Australia/India) (2013) Larry Buttrose (ghostwriter)

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson (UK) (2011)

Red Dust Road by Jackie Kay (Scotland) (2010)

My Father’s Daughter by Hannah-Azieb Pool (adoptee memoir) (2022)

Other Memoir

On Chapel Sands: The Mystery of My Mother’s Disappearance as a Child by Laura Cumming (daughter of an adoptee) (UK) – resolving the mystery surrounding her mother’s kidnapping and adoption.

Without a Map by Meredith Hall (birth mother) (US) (2007) – a young woman pregnant at 16 shares her story of being coerced into relinquishing her child.

Fiction About an Adoptee

A Girl Returned by Donatella di Pietrantonio (Italy) (2019) translated by Ann Goldstein

Agaat, Marlene van Niekerk (South Africa) translated by Michiel Heyns (Afrikaans) (2010)

Non Fiction

On Adoption

Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness by Betty Jean Lifton (adoptee) (US) (1994)

The Primal Wound, Understanding the Adopted Child by Nancy Verrier (adopter) (US)  (1993)

Coming Home to Self, The Adopted Child Grows UP by Nancy Verrier (adopter) (US)

1968: The Year That Rocked the World by Mark Kurlansky (historian) (US) (2003)

On Trauma/Healing

Separation of a baby/child from its mother is a pre-verbal trauma, these are books I have read related to the subject of trauma. Some are more generic, it is a subject that is beginning to be more researched and understood in the 21st century.

What Happened to You? : Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Bruce D. Perry & Oprah Winfrey (US) (2021)

What The Bones Know, A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma by Stephanie Foo (US/Asian/American) (2022) (understanding trauma/finding healing)

General Non-Fiction (personally relevant)

1968: The Year That Rocked the World by Mark Kurlansky (historian) (US) (2003)

Aroha: Maori wisdom for a contented life lived in harmony with our planet by Hinemoa Elder (NZ) (2020)

Ancestor Trouble, A Reckoning and a Reconciliation by Maud Newton (US) (2021) (nonfiction/ genealogy)

On The TBR (To be Read)

Blue Plastic Cow: One Woman’s Search for Her Birth Mother by Barbara Attwood (adoptee memoir) (UK) (2021)

Ithaka, A Daughter’s Memoir of Being Found by Sarah Saffian (US) (1998) (adoptee memoir)

Belonging, Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-pa Turner (Canada) (2017) (healing)

Healing Developmental Trauma, How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the Capacity for Relationship by Laurence Heller, PhD and Aline La Pierre, PsyD (US) (2012)


If you have a recommendation or have written about any of these books, please do share them with me in the comments below.

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