7 Books Every Foster, Adoptive, And Special-Needs Parent Should Read.

One of our greatest passions is equipping foster, adoptive, and special needs parents with the best resources available. Recently, I compiled a list of the top 7 books every foster, adoptive, and special needs parents should read.

Woman reads book near fireplace

If any of my middle or high school teachers, or college professors came across this post, they would laugh. That’s because I barely read a book through my school days (if you call cramming an hour before a class reading… :-)). Can’t recall one time I read an entire book, cover-to-cover throughout my childhood or college career. So, the fact that I later became an author and blogger, and now sharing a post on book recommendations, is irony in it’s finest form. Seriously though, in my adult years (the past 10 to be exact), I’ve found incredible value in reading books, especially in my continuing education as a parent. There are a few titles I believe to be critical-consumption as it relates to our unique journey.

Here are 7 titles every foster, adoptive, and special needs parent should include on their reading list…

  1. The Connected Child (by Dr. Karyn Purvis). This is our go-to resource for any parent raising children from trauma (which accurately describes most foster and adoptive parents). I can’t recommend it enough. This book brought a whole world of enlightenment to our journey. If you’re parenting a child with attachment issues, an inability to bond in a healthy way, or one with extreme behavior from FASD or other disorders, this is a MUST-read. That’s an all-caps must! It’s that important.
    Click here to get a copy!
  2. Beyond Consequences, Logic, & Control (by Heather T. Forbes). Speaking of extreme behavior, we are often asked how to discipline children who behave out of their trauma. Billion dollar question, I know! Last week I wrote a post on how traditional parenting does not work with kids from trauma, particularly traditional discipline. So, the question becomes, how? This book answers the “how” question by walking parents through a paradigm shift in parenting children who behave out of their trauma. If you’ve felt like banging your head into drywall would get you more results than trying to help your out-of-control child learn respect, it’s time to pick up this book!
    Click here to get a copy!
  3. A Different Beautiful (by Courtney Westlake). In 2011 Courtney’s new baby girl was born with a rare skin disorder, and her life was suddenly on a brand new life-path. Through these unexpected circumstances, she and her husband discovered a “different beautiful.” This is a must-read for anyone who often finds themselves dwelling on the way life didn’t turn out, as opposed to seeing the beauty right before them. Courtney weaves a beautiful story of hope and new beginnings out of unexpected circumstances. I highly recommend this title!
    Click here to get a copy!
  4. Born Broken: An Adoptive Journey (by Kristin Berry). This is Kristin’s latest book and I can’t recommend it enough! Seriously…so…unbelievably…good. She didn’t pay me to say that! Through a gut-wrenching personal account, she walks readers through the personal side of parenting a child with Fetal-Alcohol-Spectrum-Disorder. Written as more of a memoir, this book poetically expresses what day-to-day life is like in the trenches of parenting a child from a trauma. It’s will bring tears to your eyes, but also hope to your heart. (P.S.- She’s also the best looking, and most talented author on this list ;-))
    Click here to get a copy!
  5. Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parent’s Knew (by Sherrie Eldridge). I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Sherrie for an upcoming video resource we provide for Oasis Community members and it was awesome. To-date, it’s one of my favorite interviews. An adoptee herself, Sherrie has an authentic and first-hand perspective on the thought process of adoptees. Her parents adopted her in a era when resources were scarce and adoption was not a well-known cultural thing. She accurately and authentically expresses the viewpoint, feelings, and thoughts of adoptees in this book.
    Click here to get a copy!
  6. The Mystery Of Risk (by Ira J. Chasnoff, M.D.). This is my second favorite book on FASD (behind Kristin’s of course). As a world-renowned expert in the field of Fetal-Alcohol-Spectrum-Disorders, Dr. Chasnoff is helping to lead the charge in awareness and advocacy for children and adults who suffer from this disorder. This book is a game-changer in understanding the effects of drugs and alcohol on unborn children. Ira accurately and personally walks readers through the enormous risk (both medically and personally) that alcohol use has on vulnerable children. Plus, I don’t feel like an idiot when I listen to Ira talk, or read his work. He makes me feel understood and heard. It’s like sitting down to coffee with a close friend!
    Click here to get a copy!
  7. The Adoptive Parent Toolbox (by Mike and Kristin Berry). To be honest with you, I felt a little weird putting this on the list. We’re not the type of people to toot our own horn (ever!). But, as I thought through valuable resources, I realized, the Toolbox is a big one. The reason is simple. We wrote this book because, back in the day, when we first began the journey, we didn’t have a practical how-to guide to show us what to do, and what to expect (before and after we completed the adoption process). So, we wrote this book. It serves as a simple how-to on just about every aspect of the pre or post-adoptive journey.
    Click here to get a copy!

There you have it my friend…your summer reading list is complete! You’re welcome. Seriously though, I promise you will not be disappointed by any of the titles I listed above. I’ve chosen them for this list because they speak directly into our journey from an authentic and been-there-done-that point of view. That’s precisely the kind of resources I need to help me through this often-lonely and isolating journey!

Question: What are some additional helpful books you’ve discovered. Share them (and a link to order) in the comment section below this post. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Jennifer Manzke

    I love this list! I just wish more of them were available on audible or as an audio book. Or even as E-books. I have a very hard time reading nonfiction but I can listen and understand it much better.

    • Rebecca Hyink

      Ditto! These days, I have much more time to listen to books than to read them.

    • Great idea. Maybe in the near future. 😉

  • Dawn Running

    Thanks for the recommendations! I had read “Born Broken” the week before CAFO so it was great to meet you and Kristin there. I also took Sherrie’s workshop and picked up “The Connected Child” and “The Adoptive Parent Toolbox” there. Daycare is done in 3 weeks and I’ll have much more time to read! 🙂

    • Hey Dawn, so glad you grabbed those titles. You will love reading them. Let us know if you have questions or any more suggestions. 😉

  • Shannon Thornsley Guerra

    Great list! Well, I would shamelessly add “Upside Down: Understanding and Supporting Attachment in Adoptive Families.” It’s bringing hope to families who feel alone and misunderstood, and the new edition of it is available on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Upside-Down-Shannon-Guerra/dp/1512759627/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

    • Shannon, thanks for sharing this with us. Hope it’s doing well.

  • Hanthorn Family

    I would add, When Love Is Not Enough, by Nancy Thomas. She has helped me so much with my foster and adoptive children.

    • I’ve heard of this title. Thanks for sharing!

  • Karen Sauder

    I have so many favorites…anything by Siegel or Hughes. And this book by the therapists that we were privileged to work with..Healing Traumatized Children (Merkert/Hall/Bieber).

  • Lindie Graves McElroy

    I also agree with When Love Is Not Enough. Completely changed our parenting strategy with our RAD foster girls and made life much more bearable.

  • Ayiti Nirvana

    I also loved the book “The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog”. It really gave terrific insight to the different types of trauma and how they affect the brain.

  • Lynn Grubb

    It’s Not About You: Understanding Search, Reunion and Open Adoption

    The Adoptee Survival Guide