Stories About International Adoptions

These books tell the stories of children who have been adopted at a variety of ages from countries around the world. Some of their home countries include China, Korea, Vietnam, India, Russia, Ethiopia, Brazil, and Mexico. Many of the children in these stories face the task of learning a new language and adjusting to a new country and culture with the help of their adoptive family, new friends, and teachers. This list also includes titles addressing interracial adoption.

Notes: To learn more about the featured book Bringing Asha Home and why Uma Krishnaswami wanted to write about adoption, take a look at the related clip of her author interview in the "Picture Books" playlist!

We also encourage adults to review books before use, and this blog post from Sarah Park (recommended by Lee & Low) about adoption in children's literature offers some helpful guidance.

Related stories

For stories about additional topics related to adoption, see these other booklists:

All About Adoption: How Families Are Made & How Kids Feel About It

Illustrated by: Carol Koeller
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: For children adopted at any age and from any country, All About Adoption explores the what, how and why of adoption, as well as the many feelings kids can experience as they grow up. And for parents, an extensive afterword discusses the unique practical and emotional dimensions of adoptive children and their families, with suggestions for answering the most challenging questions.

Allison

By: Allen Say
Age Level: 6-9

When Allison tries on the red kimono her grandmother has sent her, she is suddenly aware that she resembles her favorite doll more than she does her mother and father. When she learns that she is adopted, she becomes angry and withdrawn. Allison's doll becomes her only solace until she finds a stray cat in the garden and learns the true meaning of adoption and parental love.

Borya and the Burps: An Eastern European Adoption Story

Illustrated by: Dawn W. Majewski
Age Level: 3-6

Borya and six babies live in an orphanage. The Mamachkas take good care of them: they feed the babies, they change their diapers, and they sing to them at night. Borya likes this. Then one day, two people come to the orphanage to see Borya. They don't talk like the Mamachkas; he doesn't understand them. Then they take him away. What are these places? Who are these people? Where is he going? This adoption story captures a toddler's view of being adopted. (The Reading Tub)

Breadcrumbs

By: Anne Ursu
Age Level: 9-12

Hazel is having trouble fitting in to her new school, although based on her experience of having been adopted, she is no stranger to feeling like an outsider. The only tolerable thing about school is that her best friend and next-door neighbor, Jack, is there with her each day. Then Jack disappears into an enchanted forest with a winter witch, and Hazel realizes that only she alone can rescue her friend. As she sets out on her treacherous journey, she soon discovers that the hard part may not be finding Jack — it may be convincing him to come home.

Bringing Asha Home

Illustrated by: Jamel Akib
Age Level: 6-9

It's Rakhi Day, a Hindu celebration special to brothers and sisters, and Arun wishes he had a little sister. Soon his wish comes true when he finds out that his parents will be adopting Asha, a little girl from India. Waiting for Asha is hard, though, and Arun is impatient. Arun's patience finally pays off when Asha arrives — just in time to celebrate another Rakhi Day. Beautiful pastel illustrations bring Arun and this uplifting story to life.

Escape from Saigon: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy

Age Level: 12-14

Product Description: Over a million South Vietnamese children were orphaned by the Vietnam War. This affecting true account tells the story of Long, who, like more than 40,000 other orphans, is Amerasian — a mixed-race child — with little future in Vietnam. Escape from Saigon allows readers to experience Long's struggle to survive in war-torn Vietnam, his dramatic escape to America as part of "Operation Babylift" during the last chaotic days before the fall of Saigon, and his life in the United States as "Matt," part of a loving Ohio family.

Happy Adoption Day!

Illustrated by: Julie Paschkis
Age Level: 3-6

"Inspired by a friend's tradition, noted children's singer/songwriter McCutcheon created this original song for those who might like to mark a special anniversary in their family's life — adoption day. His thoughtful lyrics (the score is included, of course) emphasize the joy and wonder of the event." — Publisher's Weekly

How I Became a Big Brother

Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: This is the story of how a little boy who doesn't have any siblings suddenly becomes a big brother to an adopted child from another country. The story is told from the point of view of the toddler and touches on many of the concerns and fears that a child might be experiencing when their family decides to adopt.

I Don't Have Your Eyes

Illustrated by: Rob Williams
Age Level: 3-6

Product description: "I don't have your eyes, but I have your way of looking at things…" begins this uplifting book celebrating the differences within families as well as the similarities that connect them. Lovely illustrations depict children and parents from a wide variety of backgrounds sharing special moments together.

Jin Woo

Illustrated by: Chris K. Soentpiet
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: David likes his family the way it has always been, just him and Mom and Dad. He never wanted to be a big brother. And he certainly didn't want Jin Woo, the little baby from Korea, to join the family. Now his new little brother is getting all the attention, and David feels as if no one cares about him anymore. But then a surprising letter helps him to understand that being a brother can mean being surrounded with more love than ever.

Kids Like Me in China

Illustrated by: Terry Fry
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: In this view of China adoption from a child's perspective, eight-year-old Ying Ying Fry, a Chinese American girl growing up in San Francisco, returns to her orphanage to remember what it is like and to write a story so that other adopted children will understand where they came from. Kids Like Me in China combines real-life photos with the forthright observations and complex feelings of an adopted child as she meets caregivers and befriends children in the city where her life began. A child of two countries, Ying Ying is determined to claim both as her own.

Lucy's Family Tree

Illustrated by: Stephen Gassler III
Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: When Lucy comes home from school with a family tree assignment, she asks her parents to excuse her from the task. Lucy's adoption from Mexico makes her feel as though her family is too "different," but her parents gently and wisely challenge Lucy to think some more about it and to find three families that are the "same." As Lucy ponders her list of school and family friends who are "normal," she comes to realize that there are many different kinds of families. Two pages at the back of the book offer new approaches for the traditional family tree project.

Mishka: An Adoption Tale

Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: Mo lives high on a shelf in an airport gift shop. All day he watches as families walk past. He can't help but feel lonely. Mo wants a family. He wants a home. Then one day Mo's wish for a family comes true as a special couple take him on a marvelous journey to meet his new best friend, Yuri. Mo has lots of questions once he gets to his destination. Where is he? What's a mishka? And most importantly, will the man and the woman who brought him and Yuri together come back? Will Mo ever have a family of his own?

Rebecca's Journey Home

Illustrated by: Michelle Shapiro
Age Level: 6-9

"Sugarman, who has an adopted daughter from Vietnam, draws on her experience to tell a moving story of a Jewish family and their baby girl 'who will always be Vietnamese and Jewish and American.' Much of the story is told from the viewpoint of the American siblings, Jacob and Gabriel, who see their mother leave for Vietnam, eagerly read her e-mails with photos, and hug their baby sister in welcome. The graphic-style pictures show the family bliss at home, the ritual of the baby's conversion to Judaism, and the ongoing celebration of her rich cross-cultural heritage." — Booklist

Ten Days and Nine Nights: An Adoption Story

By: Yumi Heo
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: Follow a little girl as she and her family prepare for the new baby that will soon be joining them. And simultaneously, watch the girl's mother fly off to Korea, meet the new baby, and bring her home. Here is a child-centric look at the adoption process through the eyes of a soon-to-be older sibling.

When I Met You: A Story of Russian Adoption

Illustrated by: Christine Sykes
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Based on the author's family's experience, this book describes a child's life before and after she was adopted from Russia. From scenes in the orphanage to the child's Russian birthmother, this is one of the first children's picture books to chronicle the special background of children adopted from Russia. Delicate watercolor illustrations perfectly compliment this poetic and heartfelt text.

Yafi's Family

Illustrated by: Jan Spivey Gilchrest
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: Meet Yafi, a six-year-old Ethiopian boy who was adopted as a young child. Yafi, his parents, and two sisters remember his early life and his adoption experience by telling stories, revisiting memories, and looking at photographs. Yafi's Family is the story of love, loss, and a boy's discovery of how wide and how deep the bonds of family can be.