An Adoption

These are the books I've read so far about adoption,
transracial adoption, gay and lesbian adoption and parenting.

Adesman, Andrew. Parenting Your Adopted Child: A Positive Approach to Building a Stron Family. A parenting handbook with special focus on adoption issues (including how not to make things into issues that shouldn't be), endorsed by the publisher of Adoptive Families magazine.

Barrow, Randi. Somebody's Child: Stories from the Private Files of an Adoption Attorney. A collection of first-person accounts of adoption from the perspective of adoptive and birthparents from all kinds of backgrounds. I especially enjoyed the birthmother narratives.

Brill, Stephanie. The Queer Parent's Primer: A Lesbian and Gay Families' Guide to Navigating the Straight World. This one is a little different from some of the other gay family self-help books. I personally find it more helpful in many ways, not the least of which are the exercises sprinkled throughout which can help spur thoughtful consideration of the issues presented beyond basic reading. Although at times the tone is a little preachy, most of the issues raised are spot-on pertinent to modern American glbt family life.

Clunis, Merilee and Dorsey Green. The Lesbian Parenting Book: A Guide to Creating Families and Raising Children. This one includes much more information and discussion of sperm donation and pregnancy than it does of adoption, but it does cover issues specific to lesbian parenting and family that many adoption books don't. It also has a large section of basic child development and parenting information that assumes (unlike the "What to Expect" books et al.) a queer family.

Collison, Michele N-K. It's All Good Hair: The Guide to Styling and Grooming Black Children's Hair. A helpful book full of carefully illustrated instructions for doing all kinds of really cool things to an African American child's hair. Aimed at Black and/or white parents, it is user-friendly and nonjudgemental. Rather than shoulds and oughts, it's full of how-tos and beautiful children modelling the results.

Cook, Daniel Thomas. The Commodification of Childhood: The Children's Clothing Industry and the Rise of the Child Consumer. Not about parenting. Not about GLBT family issues. Not about adoption. Not about race (overtly). But this book is a fabulous recounting of how childhood as it is understood in present day, middle-class America is at least partly the product of the rise of 20th century consumer culture. Plus my friend, Dan, wrote it. And he's really, really smart.

Drucker, Jane. Lesbian and Gay Families Speak Out. What I like about this book is how the author, rather than summarizing her data, really lets it speak for itself. Lots of actual voices of actual families on a range of issues.

Foli, Karen J. and John R. Thompson. The Post-Adoption Blues: Overcoming the Unforseen Challenges of Adoption. A helpful book recommended by some folks I greatly respect, including Dawn and Sue.

Garner, Abigail. Families Like Mine. Adult children of LGBT parents recount their true experiences growing up. An absolute must-read for prospective (and current!) queer parents.

Howey, Noelle et al. eds. Out of the Ordinary: Essays on Growing up With Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Parents. Another book that give pretty free reign to kids to tell about their families from their own perspectives. I really find the stories helpful.

Kennedy, Randall. Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption. Kennedy is a Harvard Law professor and one-time clerk to Thurgood Marshall. He gives an absorbing and encyclopedic historical account of the politics of interracial relationships, from sexual coercion between masters and slaves to contemporary "race-matching" debates within the world of adoption. He comes down consistently on the side of "we CAN all get along" but not without carefully and convincingly engaging his opponents.

Lamott, Anne. Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year. Okay, it's not about adoption, interracial families or glbt families. But it's such a classic, beautiful book by such a fabulous writer. You probably don't need me to tell you, but if you happen to have missed it thus far, rush out now and buy itóor borrow itóbut read it. You won't be able to put it down and will gobble it up in a couple of hours.

McIntosh, Peggy. "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." This is an essay which has nothing to do with adoption, but it is an extremely useful tool for beginning to understand the workings of white supremacy in the United States. It could be a fabulous opening for any white person considering transracial adoption. I regularly teach it to first year college students of various races who find it helpful, honest and inspiring. White students especially tend to praise it for opening up a real understanding of race for them, often for the first time in spite of their "multicultural" high school educations.

Melosh, Barbara. Strangers and Kin: The American Way of Adoption. This book is really a cultural history of the U.S. via the issue of adoption. An adoptive mother herself, Melosh explores the 1920s' preoccupation with eugenics, the 1950s' sexual repression, the 1970s' racial optimism, and the 1990s' turn to open adoption and birth family reunions. An intensive and fascinating book.

Moraga, Cherrie. Waiting in the Wings: Portrait of a Queer Motherhood. A memoir of Moraga's pregnancy, the premature birth of her son and the ensuing medical drama over his life or death (happy ending, don't worry!).

Rossiter, Amy. From Public to Private: A Feminist Exploration of Early Mothering.
An interesting sociological study of the experiences of first-time mothers' perspective on the first six months of their babies' lives.

Savage, Dan. The Kid: What Happened When My Boyfriend and I Decided to go Get Pregnant. My favorite so far! Dan Savage, a sex columnist and professional gay guy, tells a witty tale of his and his boyfriend's adoption adventure, from why he wanted to have a baby (so he could get fat), to his fears of kidnapping at his brother-in-law's fundamentalist wedding reception. His testament to open adoption is exceptionally persuasive, and the relationship he and his boyfriend develop with their son's birthmother (a teenage "gutter punk") is one of the book's most charming themes.

Thompson, Becky. Mothering Without a Compass: White Mother's Love, Black Son's Courage. Thompson tells a compelling story of finding a nine year-old boy on her doorstep one day, with a request from his mother that she become his guardian. This memoir of her first year as the instant white, lesbian mother of an African American child is a thoughtful exploration of issues of sexuality, race and family in contemporary U.S. culture.

Thompson, Julie M. Mommy Queerest. A combination of cultural theory and legal history, Thompson's book reads like an (interesting) dissertation (and it probably was). She charts a history of lesbian parenting and examines the contradictions inherent within popular understanding of sexuality and family.

Weeks, Jeffrey et al. Same Sex Intimacies: Families of Choice and Other Life Experiments. A mostly UK-based study of several different cases of variously self-defined queers living out alternative family arrangements, including queer parenting.

Some adoption and GLBT parenting web resources:

Proud Parenting
Big Gay Parenting Site!

Adoption Family Center
Based in Washington State, but full of universally helpful info.

Family Pride Coalition
GLBT family support.

Children of Gays and Lesbians Everywhere (COLAGE)
Nationwide support for our kids.

2moms 2dads
Goods, services and support.

HRC Familynet
The Human Rights Campaign on parenting.


Transracial Abductees
I have gone back and forth about whether or not to include this link. Perhaps later I will change my mind but for now, you can make up your own. This is a site strongly opposed to transracial adoption. The material on the site ranges from grief-stricken, to angry, to funny to a complex combination of lots of things. Some of the writing is quite powerful. It speaks to how familiesóI'd argue any families, not just adoptive onesócan go wrong and can hurt each other. But it also addresses important racial issues that my partner and I have taken quite seriously into consideration in making our decision to adopt. Part of why I include it here is to let skeptics know that we hear them and we do care about what they think. While we share many of the site's race politics we don't agree that a "successful" transracial adoption is impossible. We still believe we can have a healthy, happy family, but we also respectfully defer to each person's story of his or her own experience.

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