The Best Children's Books About Adoption and Surrogacy
As adults, we know that many babies aren’t carried or raised by their biological parents. But kids who are adopted or delivered via surrogate may have a difficult time understanding where they came from and how it relates to their identity.
The reassuring truth is that openly sharing your child’s origin story from the get-go without shame or negativity can help alleviate identity issues, says Allison Davis Maxon, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist and the executive director of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency. “A child’s developmental understanding of adoption and permanency changes and unfolds over time,” explains Davis Maxon. “Much like building a house, you can begin by focusing on the foundation, or the basics of their story. Over time, you can ‘frame’ the house by sharing more facts.”
One easy way to facilitate some basic dialogue is by reading stories together. Books can help initiate conversations if you don’t know where to begin—and it’s never too early to start reading. Suffice it to say, you want to bulk up your book collection while your child’s story is still “under construction.” Storytime can become a forum for you to check in with your kid, see what they understand about where they came from and ask them how they feel. What’s more, reading books about unique family makeups and different experiences can help encourage empathy and foster inclusivity among all children.
Ready to find some new options for your home library? Below, we share the best children’s books about adoption and surrogacy to read together.
This brightly illustrated, culturally-inclusive alphabet-based book explores both the most amazing and most disorienting aspects of adoption with nuances that reveal themselves as children get older.
For ages: All ages
Buy it: ABC, Adoption & Me by Gayle H. Swift, $11, Amazon.com
Sing-songy and cheerfully illustrated, We Belong Together explores the reciprocal, symbiotic relationship between adopted children and their families—a perfect read to reinforce the joy an adopted child brings to a household.
For ages: 3 to 6
Buy it: We Belong Together by Todd Parr, $15, Amazon.com
Authored by a psychotherapist and child counselor, My New Family features a simple narrative that breaks down the basics of adoption in an approachable way.
For ages: 4 to 7
Buy it: My New Family: A First Look at Adoption by Pat Thomas and Lesley Harker, $13, Amazon.com
A little girl loves to hear the story about how her family traveled abroad to adopt her and make her part of their family. In Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, author Jamie Lee Curtis sets the stage for children piecing together their own personal histories with a narrative that’s driven by sweet storytelling.
For ages: 4 to 8
Buy it: Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis, $8, Amazon.com
Choco is on a mission to find a mother. But he can’t locate another animal that looks like him. When he meets Mrs. Bear, she takes him home and introduces him to her other kids (all sorts of species!). Choco soon realizes that families are all different and special.
For ages: 2 to 5
Buy it: Choco by Keiko Kasza, $8, Amazon.com
Whether a little one has two adoptive dads, a single mom or a grandparent as a primary caregiver, this story will resonate. Each kid in a classroom full of children shares what makes their family special. The unique answers reinforce what we already know to be true: Families of all shapes, sizes and makeups are special and full of love.
For ages: 4 to 7
Buy it: A Family Is a Family, Is a Family by Sara O’Leary, $13, Amazon.com
Written by Hoda Kotb and inspired by her adoption of a baby girl, this poetic book is a testament to the love between a parent and child. With beautiful illustrations and delightful prose, kids and grown-ups will adore this sweet read.
For ages: 4 to 8
Buy it: I’ve Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb, $7, Amazon.com
Sophia’s Broken Crayons follows a little girl whose parents offer the gift of surrogacy to their friends. Using an extended metaphor featuring every kid’s favorite art supply, this tale of love and generosity answers the most fundamental questions about why someone would choose to become a surrogate—and why others might come to rely on one.
For ages: 2 to 6
Buy it: Sophia’s Broken Crayons by Crystal Falk, $18, Amazon.com
Sometimes it’s easier to see the world through the animal kingdom. In this story about a young kangaroo named Oliver and his surrogate mother, the author—also a real-life surrogate—details the gestational surrogacy process with a young audience in mind.
For ages: 2 to 8
Buy it: The Kangaroo Pouch: A Story About Surrogacy for Young Children by Sarah A. Phillips, $15, Amazon.com
The simplest stories can be the most impactful. This illustrated book about two koala bears who engage another koala to carry their baby can help families see surrogacy as a beautiful, kind act of love and generosity.
For ages: 3 and up
Buy it: The Very Kind Koala by Kimberly Kluger-Bell, $15, Amazon.com
In this gorgeously illustrated bilingual story, a couple explores all of the ways to have a baby, as they embark on their own surrogacy journey. Reviewers commend the Spanish translation for its inclusivity and accuracy.
For ages: 5 and up
Buy it: Wanted: A Journey to Surrogacy / Un Viaje Hacia la Subrogación by Carolina Robbiano, $18, Amazon.com
Watching your parent carry a child for another family can be disorienting, but the book My Mom Is a Surrogate, which follows the son and daughter of a surrogate, can help children get an accurate grip on what’s going on—and prompt them to explore their own feelings about it.
For ages: 2 to 10
Buy it: My Mom Is a Surrogate by Abigail Glass, $20, Amazon.com
“Where did I come from?” This straight-forward book answers this question (and others) for kids conceived using third-party assisted reproduction in biologically-accurate detail. With inclusive illustrations, reviewers describe this children’s book as a gem—and with good reason.
For ages: All ages
Buy it: You Began as a Wish by Dr. Kim Bergman, $15, Amazon.com
About the experts.
Allison Davis Maxon, LMFT, is a licensed marriage and family therapist and the executive director of the National Center on Adoption and Permanency and co-author of Seven Core Issues in Adoption and Permanency.