Adoptive families

Below is a selection of stories that consider adoption from different perspectives. Don’t forget to look at our General Families page for more titles that include adoptive families together with other family types.

A Blessing from Above

Patti Henderson (author) and Liz Edge (illustrator)
Golden Book: 1999
ISBN: 9780375828669
Age: 3+

Reviewed by Viv Young

A mother kangaroo with an empty pouch prays each night for a baby. After meeting various baby animals with their parents on her walk, a baby bird falls from its nest and into her pouch. The momma bird observes this and is pleased—her nest is too small and Momma-Roo’s pouch looks warm and cuddly. Momma-Roo says hello to her ‘blessing from above’. They walk back along the route Momma-Roo travelled but this time Momma-Roo has her own baby to frolic with in the meadow and to drink with from the lake.

A Blessing from Above is a poignant story about adoption. It primarily explores the mother’s journey but also touches on the birth mother’s experience respectfully, and generally presents adoption as a positive experience for all. The choice of the Kangaroo is a nice touch—the external pouch/womb an apt metaphor for the nurturing role of an adoptive parent. The Christian influence is clearest in the quotes from Ephesians on the title page and the concluding page where Momma-Roo and her adoptive baby ‘thank god’. 

Flora’s Family

Annette Aubrey (author) Patrice Barton (illustrator)
QED Publishing: 2007
ISBN: 9781845386924
Age: 3+

Reviewed by Viv Young

Flora notices that her hair is long and black while her mother’s hair is short and blonde. When she asks why, Flora’s mum and dad explain that when she was a small baby she became part of the family. Flora asks many questions and her parents encourage this, making it clear that they are happy to keep answering her queries. As she climbs into bed her siblings join Flora and she expresses her love for her family and her feeling that they love her.

Flora’s Family is part of a series designed to help children understand new and potentially distressing topics that affect themselves or those around them. It is told in rhyme and accompanied by images of human adults and children whose expressive faces are well suited to discussing emotions. Flora’s emotions arguably range from curiosity to worry to joyfulness and her questions may well resonate with many children. For example Flora asks at one point whether she did something ‘awful’ or bad since her birth parents didn’t continue caring for her. The accompanying notes for parents and teachers encourage children who are not adopted to empathise with children who are adopted but parents of adopted children may still find the story useful for explaining what adoption is and discussing common questions.

Tell me again about the night I was born

Jamie Lee Curtis (author) and Laura Cornell (illustrator)
Harper Collins: 1999
ISBN: 0694012157
Age: 3+

Reviewed by Viv Young

A young girl asks her parents to tell her about the night she was born from when her parents received the phone call to say she had arrived to her first bottle and nappy.

Each page spread in this sweet story begins with the young girl narrator saying, ‘Tell me again about…’ and her detailed questions show that she can tell the oft-heard tale of her birth all by herself and in all its hilarious detail. The adoption process is unobtrusively indicated in the sequence of scenes—the parents are asleep when they receive a call to say the child has been born and have to travel by plane to collect her. Specific reference is made to the reason why the birth mother cannot look after a baby (she is too young) and the new parents own difficulties conceiving. Yet true to the child narrator’s voice these details are touched upon briefly and in a matter-of-fact way; they are a small part of the broader story that is all about the child herself.

Tell me again about the night I was born is full of humour. There’s the nitty gritty of family stories that will make parents chuckle like the lack of a movie on the parent’s plane flight and their glares at anyone with a sniffle on the way home. The illustrations enhance the humour in the text and also bring their own laughs, especially in the scenes on public transport. Bold water colours and sketchy portraits produce a dream-like sequence of images that suits the subject of remembering and the joyous mood of this heart-warming story of adoption.

The Teazles’ Baby Bunny

Susan Bagnall (author) Tommaso Levente Tani (illustrator)
British Association for Adoption & Fostering: London 2008
ISBN: 9781905664498
Age: 3+

Reviewed by Viv Young

The Teazles are happy bunnies except that they do not have a baby bunny and ‘the joy that would bring’. One day Mr McBadger brings news of a baby bunny who needs a home. The Teazles are filled with joy and prepare their home for a new baby boy or girl. They excitedly mark off the days until the baby’s arrival. When Mr McBadger arrives with the new baby they cuddle it and ‘from that day on’ the Teazles are as ‘happy as happy could be’.

This short story about adoption is suitable for very young children. It focuses on the initial stages of adoption and preparation for the arrival of a baby, especially the joy and excitement an adopted baby brings to his or her parents. It is not gender specific, told with a simple rhyme, and accompanied by colourful cartoon-style illustrations that use hearts and other symbols to underscore the mood of happiness.

We Belong Together: a book about adoption and families

Todd Parr
Little, Brown and Company: 2011
ISBN: 9780316186919
Age: 3+

Reviewed by Viv Young

The statement, ‘we belong together because…’ recurs throughout this picture book and each example concludes with a different reason why a child belongs to a particular family. The reasons are poignant and important for children; they touch on the need for a home, for love, for learning, care and friendship. While the tone is serious it is also heartwarming, moreover the simplicity of the straightforward statements are easy for young readers to grasp.

The illustrations depict a different family in each sequence of two spreads and the introductory note encourages parents to adapt the content to their own families. The block-colour backgrounds and line drawings with bright colour fill are deceptively simple but convey a lot of symbolic meaning for kids to decipher with the help of their parents. The book ends as most of Todd Parr’s creations, with an encouraging note signed Todd Parr.

We Belong Together does not explain the adoption process but rather provides a reassuring message for kids that their adoptive parents will provide for their needs.  

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