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“Where Do I Belong?”: Adoption Themed Reads and a Program


“Where Do I Belong?”: Adoption Themed Reads and a Program

adoption reads

The task of searching for one’s biological family as an adoptee can be very complicated and stressful. 

On May 2 at 2pm, join genealogist Eric Midgal as he shares tools and techniques he learned during his own search for his biological family and shows you the best ways to accomplish your search in a program entitled “ Adoption and the Search for Biological Family.”

He will uncover resources that can be used including adoption agencies, applying for information, DNA testing and research using genealogy databases like Ancestry and HeritageQuest available through your library.

Eric Midgal has been doing family history research for 30 years and assists clients with family tree building, DNA test analysis, and safely and effectively contacting unknown family members.

Says Eric, “ As an adoptee, I spent many years searching for my biological family with very few results. My starting information was wrong and the assumptions I made were also incorrect, I needed DNA testing to assist me with finding the truth about my family and it ultimately led me to the correct family.”

This program is made possible with the support of The Friends of the Livingston Public Library.

Adoption themed books often grapple with such interesting situations such as how do adoptees handle finding out that they were adopted, that the guardians who they are with are not their birth parents? How can adoptive parents safely straddle being good parents while (in some cases) maintaining a connection to birth parents? Interracial and out of county adoptions involve a host of other issues.

Here are some fiction and nonfiction reads including memoirs involving adoptive parents  and adopted children who may struggle to discover their identity and home, and parents who struggle with the decision to give away their child for adoption, all available with your Livingston Library card.



The Bereaved by Julia Park Tracey

Based on the author’s research into her grandfather’s past as an adopted child, and the surprising discovery of his family of origin and how he came to be adopted, Tracey has created a mesmerizing work of historical fiction illuminating the darkest side of the Orphan Train. 

Family Family by Laurie Frankel

India Allwood grew up wanting to be an actor. Armed with a stack of index cards (for research/line memorization/make-shift confetti), she goes from awkward sixteen-year-old to Broadway ingenue to TV superhero.  Her new movie is a prestige picture about adoption, but its spin is the same old tired story of tragedy. India is an adoptive mom in real life though. She wants everyone to know there’s more to her family than pain and regret. So she does something you should never do — she tells a journalist the truth: it’s a bad movie.  Soon she’s at the center of a media storm, battling accusations from the press and the paparazzi, from protesters on the right and advocates on the left. Her twin ten-year-olds know they need help – and who better to call than family? But that’s where it gets really messy because India’s not just an adoptive mother…The one thing she knows for sure is what makes a family isn’t blood. And it isn’t love. No matter how they’re formed, the truth about family is this: it’s complicated.

The Making of Her by Bernadette Jiwa 

Dublin 1965. When Joan Quinn, a factory girl from the Cranmore Estate, marries Martin Egan, it looks like her dreams have come true. But all is not as it seems. Joan lives in the shadow of a secret – the couple’s decision to give up their first daughter for adoption only months before. For the next three decades, Joan’s marriage and her relationship with her second child Carmel suffer as a consequence. Then one day in 1996, a letter arrives from their adopted daughter. Emma needs her birth parents’ help; it’s a matter of life and death. And the fragile facade of Joan’s life finally begins to crack.

Red Thread of Fate by Lyn Liao Butler

Two days before Tam and Tony Kwan receive their letter of acceptance for the son they are adopting, Tony and his cousin Mia are killed in an accident. A shellshocked Tam learns she is named the guardian to Mia’s 5-year-old daughter, Angela. Tam has no choice but to agree to take in the girl she hasn’t seen since she was a baby. Tam must also decide if she will complete the adoption on her own and bring home the son waiting for her in a Chinese orphanage. But when her secret comes to light just as she and Angela start to bond, their fragile family is threatened, and everything may fall apart.

Self-Portrait with Nothing by Aimee Potwatka

Abandoned as an infant on the local veterinarian’s front porch, Pepper Rafferty was raised by two loving mothers, and now, at thirty-six is married to the stable, supportive Ike. She’s never told anyone that at fifteen she discovered the identity of her biological mother.  That’s because her birth mother is Ula Frost, a reclusive painter famous for the outrageous claims that her portraits summon their subjects’ doppelgängers from parallel universes. Researching the rumors, Pepper couldn’t help but wonder: Is there a parallel universe in which she is more confident, more accomplished, better able to accept love?

Sleeping Giants by Rene Denfeld

Twenty years ago, a nine-year-old boy was swept away by powerful waves on a remote Oregon beach, his body lost to the sea. Only a stone memorial remains to mark his tragic death. For most of her life, Amanda Dufresne had no idea she had an older brother named Dennis Owens, or that he had died. Adopted as a baby, she learned about him while looking into her late birth mother, and is curious to know more about this lost sibling. A solitary young woman, Amanda has always felt distanced from the world around her. Her brain works differently from others, leaving her feeling set apart. Her one true companion is the orphaned polar bear she cares for working at the zoo. By getting to know her birth family, she hopes to understand more about herself. Retired police officer Larry Palmer is a widower with nothing but time and in need of a purpose. He offers to help Amanda find answers. The search leads to shocking and heartbreaking discoveries. 


american baby

American Baby : A Mother, a Child, and the Shadow History of Adoption by Gabrielle Glaser

The shocking truth about postwar adoption in America, told through the bittersweet story of one teenager, the son she was forced to relinquish, and their search to find each other.  Open adoption is the rule today, but the identities of many who were adopted or who surrendered a child in the postwar decades are locked in sealed files. American Baby illuminates a dark time in our history and shows a path to reunion that can help heal the wounds inflicted by years of shame and secrecy.

Invisible Boy : A Memoir of Self-Discovery by Harrison Mooney

A gripping memoir from a BC Vancouver Sun journalist who was born to a West African mother, and then adopted as a small boy and raised by a white evangelical family. This is his searing account of being raised by fundamentalists. This is also a narrative that amplifies a voice rarely heard: the child at the centre of an interracial adoption. This powerful memoir invites readers to de-centre whiteness as its narrator learns to do the same and considers the controversial adoption practice from the perspective of the families being ripped apart, and the children being stripped of their culture, in order to fill demand for babies in evangelical households.

A Living Remedy : A Memoir by Nicole Chung

A searing memoir of class, inequality, and grief-a daughter’s search to understand the lives her adoptive parents led, the life she forged as an adult, and the lives she’s lost. 

Relinquished : The Politics of Adoption and the Privilege of American Motherhood by Gretchen E. Sisson 

Adoption has always been viewed as a beloved institution for building families, as well as a mutually agreeable common ground in the abortion debate, but little attention has been paid to the lives of mothers who relinquish infants for private adoption. Relinquished reveals adoption to be a path of constrained choice for those for whom abortion is inaccessible, or for whom parenthood is untenable. The stories of relinquishing mothers are stories about our country’s refusal to care for families at the most basic level, and to instead embrace an individual, private solution to a large-scale, social problem.   an analysis of hundreds of in-depth interviews with American mothers who placed their children for domestic adoption. 

Rock Needs River : A Memoir About a Very Open Adoption by Vanessa McGrady

After two years of waiting to adopt–slogging through paperwork and bouncing between hope and despair–a miracle finally happened for Vanessa McGrady. Her sweet baby, Grace, was a dream come true. Then Vanessa made a highly uncommon gesture: when Grace’s biological parents became homeless, Vanessa invited them to stay. Without a blueprint for navigating the practical basics of an open adoption or any discussion of expectations or boundaries, the unusual living arrangement became a bottomless well of conflicting emotions and increasingly difficult decisions complicated by missed opportunities, regret, social chaos, and broken hearts.

Skinfolk : A Memoir by Matthew Pratt Guterl

The author narrates the saga of his parents’ experiment to raise their own biological children alongside children adopted from Korea, Vietnam, and the South Bronx, relating how their best intentions proved inadequate for confronting the racism and xenophobia that added to the complexity of holding together a large family.

Somewhere Sisters: A Story of Adoption, Identity, and the Meaning of Family by Erika Hayasaki

This is an intimate story of twin sisters, born in Vietnam and raised on opposite sides of the world, whose discovery of one another’s existence upends common conceptions of adoption, family, and identity.

-Archana  Chiplunkar, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian


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