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Learn From The Experts: Black History Month Books & Podcasts

If you've ever attended one of our Activism in Adoption sessions, you already know that we consider adopted people and birthparents the experts on adoption, and we privilege their voices when seeking people to learn from. Our speaker series focuses primarily on three main topics in adoption—race, relationships, and resilience—and today, we wanted to highlight a few of our favorite Black podcasters and authors who work in the intersection of race and adoption, providing honest and unflinching takes on transracial adoption and the Black adoption experience. We are grateful to everyone on this list, whose work both informs and transforms the adoption landscape. 

Please note that, while we are linking to Amazon as the most convenient way to learn more about these books, they are available everywhere books are sold. 


Adoptees Crossing Lines: Host Lia is a Black same-race adoptee, whose podcast deconstructs the romanticism holding up the adoption industry to provide a more honest look at the landscape. As she says, "I'm here to unwrap the shiny bow around adoption and speak my truths as an adoptees. In doing so, I explain what it means and what it feels like to 'come out of the fog'. This isn't your feel good podcast, I am an angry, healing and honest adoptee.

Birth Moms, Real Talk:  Birthmom D. Yvonne Rivers interviews other birthmoms about their birthparent experience and journey, while covering hot topics regarding the realities of adoption, reunion, and healing. [Facebook, Instagram]  

Black Adoptees Identities: Host Christelle Pellecuer invites Black adoptees to discuss their adoption experience and how they navigate their identities. She describes her podcast this way: "we all have an internal need to know who we are as a person as our identity helps us to navigate the world and to know what unique about us. We all develop an identity but the process of navigating this journey can be more difficult for adoptees in relation to early challenges they might have faced through their adoption." [Instagram]

Black To The Beginning: the Black Adoption Podcast: Dr. Samantha Coleman and Sandria Washington both discovered as adults they were adopted. Each quickly learned that Black adoption is common, but taboo to speak about in private or publicly. Black to the Beginning: The Black Adoption Podcast amplifies the adoption conversation by placing #BlackAndAdopted voices and Black families at the center. [Facebook, Instagram]

Discovering My Identity: Host Isaac Etter, a transracial adoptee (and popular Activism in Adoption speaker) created this thought-provoking documentary series that explores the profound journey of adoption, uncovering the layers of identity, family, and belonging. Over four episodes, Isaac's heartfelt narrative unfolds, revealing the challenges of racial identity, the introspection sparked by parenthood, and his commitment to support and educate adoptive families. This series weaves together personal stories and expert insights, offering a nuanced look at the adoptive experience, the quest for self-discovery, and the impact of unconditional love. [Instagram]

Once Upon A Time in Adopteeland: Host Jennifer Dyan Ghoston, and adoptee in reunion with both sides of her birth family, created this platform to give adoptees a space to share their perspective about adoption. Through an audio drama, episodes of thought-provoking conversations and bonus recordings, the listening audience can learn some of the issues that the adoption community face from the perspective of the adoptee. [Instagram]

The Adoptee Diaries: Bethany Fraser, and adoptee and popular Activism in Adoption speaker, explores the journey of adoption and self-discovery, with a focus on the truth, trust, transparency, the power of community and shared experience. Join her as she takes deep dives into the raw, unfiltered truths of this complicated, unique, and beautiful experience. Through personal narratives, expert interviews, and insightful discussions, she creates a safe space for adoptees to share their stories and connect with others who understand the complexities of this unique experience. [Instagram]

The Adoptee Next Door: Host Angela Tucker (whose book is also listed below), takes listeners on a journey to better understand the truth of adoption. There is something temptingly tidy about the idea of adoption: a family with extra love and resources meets a child in need of both. The Adoptee Next Door gives listeners a chance to see beyond the sparkly fairy tale of adoption. Angela's engaging personality brings this podcast to life as she interviews adoptees from all backgrounds in an effort to shift societal perceptions. [Instagram]

The Adoption Journey: Tarcia Smith's podcast aims to be your one-stop-shop for learning about adoption and the adoption process, covering everything from topics like international and domestic adoption, open and closed adoptions, adoption agencies, and foster care to the complexity of search and reunion. [Instagram]

When They Were Young: What happens when the adoptee is centered as the hero in their own story? Host Lanise Antoine Shelley hosts whole-hearted conversations on how we can create a thriving, healing, community and impactful relationships the centerpiece of our lives. This is for the adoptee, parents, and the adoption-curious. [Instagram]


Instead of just telling you what we thought about these books, we thought it might be fun to share what reviewers had to say about them. 

The Girl I Am, Was, And Never Will Be: A Speculative Memoir of Transracial Adoption, by Shannon Gibney.

"I love this book! "The Girl I Am, Was, and Never Will Be" is everything I hoped it would be... Part powerfully moving memoir of a transracial adoptee, part nerdy sci-fi exploration and speculative fiction, and part non-fiction must-read guide for current and would-be adoptive parents who wish to deeply understand their children’s yearning to know and be known, especially in the case of transracial adoptees.   

This memoir takes the reader on a journey as Ms. Gibney searches for who she is, was, and never will be. I was completely pulled into her world, emotionally riding along with her. I felt her heartache and deep longing as well as her confusion and frustration. It is touching, powerful, sweet and sad all at once.   

As part of the story, Ms. Gibney makes clear the impacts without being preachy, as she explores the additional challenges in the case of transracial adoptions. She notes that many birth parents talk about "stability and security" as part of the wish for their relinquished children... yet providing that stability and security for Black children MUST include having parents who have a solid understanding of racism and Black racial identity, as well as a real connection to local Black communities. I'm not sure if this is widely known yet. This book is an important update to the story."   

Born Without a Race: The trauma caused by trans-racial adoption, and how this biracial adoptee searched and found his birth mother, birth father, and racial identity, by Dr. Michael Bauer.

"As a strong Black woman who is uber proud to be Black , I was both confused and offended that the author seems to not know he was Black or not want to be Black.   

As I read more, I realized the pressure and desire to fit in and feel loved.   

My skepticism then turned to understanding and I truly saw him through nonjudgmental eyes and could better understand both his perspective and his story.   

A surprisely funny, good read that pulls you out of your preconceived notions of stereotypes and labels"

Ward of the State: A Memoir of Foster Care, by Karlos Dillard.

"Foster care is never depicted as a well-functioning institution in popular media, but Karlos’ story demonstrates the number of ways a child’s innocence can be stolen from them while going through the foster system. A brave account that doesn’t shy away from harsh truths and explores the multitudes of thoughts and emotions that he felt, even if he didn’t quite understand them at the time.   

With each hard lesson that was learned I was cheering Karlos on and simultaneously wishing I could protect him, myself. This book should be required reading. All children deserve to feel safe and be protected."

Black Baby, White Hands: A View From The Crib, by Dr. Jaiya John.

"I laugh. I shake my head and feel kinship. I cry and take long walks. I sigh and realize my parents didn't know how to protect me-it wasn't malice. I get why I am the way I am. 36 years of baggage is disappearing. I am so thankful that Jaiya John wrote his story and that I was lead to it. I marvel at the similarities in our circumstances that I thought only I owned. I have a new level of understanding about why I do the things I do to this day.   

It is such a relief to me that after all these years there is proof that I wasn't making up stories about feeling lost and alone. This book have given me a self-assurance I never had before and because of it I walk in the world differently because I know I deserve to. Conversations about my life are being spoken. I got an apology from my biological father...and felt peace. People have no idea how much this book has changed my life."

Growing Up Black in White, by Kevin Hofmann.

"WIthout an angry edge, Mr. Hoffman tells the story of his transracial adoption with openness and honesty. His story is real and while he doesn't leave out the bad parts, readers certainly conclude the book with no uncertainty about his love for his family. I so appreciated Kevin's desire to honor his parents while honestly acknowledging that his life was far from perfect. He does a great job of explaining that his parents' lives were difficult as well. Kevin admits that the awareness that both he and his parents had of each other's experiences evolved as he wrote the book. I completed the book amazed that after all he of his struggles, he was still able to write a book about with an extraordinary amount of gentleness and respect. As an adoptive parent of children of several races, I gained insight into his experience which I hope will help me to better communicate with my children about the racism that they will face as adults. I so appreciate Mr. Hoffman's willingness to present the truth honesty with love, respect and kindness for all of those who are a part of his life."

"You Should Be Grateful" - Stories of Race, Identity, and Transracial Adoption, by Angela Tucker.

"This conversation needs to be had. It is absolutely necessary. I love that Angela starts the book by being clear that this isn't an argument of pro-adoption, anti-adoption, pro trans-racial adoption or anti. One can love your adoptive parents and still wish they weren't adopted. These two full feelings can co-exist. Our world seems to want to push each person into a specific box, but it just isn't reality. This book will break you in such a good way. It opens your mind to different points of view. For years I have been fascinated with the point of view of an adoptee but finding those resources are not easy to come by. The point of view of the adoptive parents are the primary voices that are heard. This isn't right. It was emotionally difficult for me to read. Expect to cry because it hits you. As a Mom and foster parent -- you want what is best for your child. You want your child to feel safe and love and heard and hold tightly a sense of belonging. This book also opened my eyes as I was unaware of the depth of racist historical (& current) laws revolving around adoption. It doesn't give me all the answers, but it helps me understand questions and conversations that need to happen to be part of the solution. Humans are messy and complex and beautiful. I urge you to read (or listen) to this book. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. You will be better for it. You will be able to show up better for yourself and those around you."

As always, we are always seeking new podcasts and books about adoption. Have one to recommend? Let us know!