Adoption Stories from China

This booklist represents a wide range of perspectives about China adoptions, including a schoolgirl preparing her "Star of the Week" presentation, a birth mother who dreams of a better life for her daughter, a young boy waiting anxiously for his new baby sister, and a single mother preparing for her trip to China. Most books feature personal anecdotes and photographs.

Note: Many of the titles refer to the ancient Chinese belief that an invisible red thread connects those who are destined to be together.

Related stories

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

At Home in This World: A China Adoption Story

Illustrated by: Qin Su
Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: "I am nine years old and someone a lot like you. Part of my life has been like a puzzle needing pieces, but I am understanding more about myself and my life everyday. This is my story..." So begins the honest, lyrical reflection of a pre-adolescent girl on what she knows of her adoption from China, and the strength she gains from her acceptance of her bittersweet experience. Author Jean MacLeod is the mother of three daughters, two of whom were adopted from China.

Every Year on Your Birthday

Illustrated by: Brooke Dyer
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: In I Love You Like Crazy Cakes, Rose Lewis and Jane Dyer told the heartfelt story of one woman's adoption a baby girl from China. These sentiments are brought to life again in this touching portrait of birthday celebrations and unforgettable moments between a mother and her little girl: from joyous hugs for a new puppy, to quiet nights gazing at the stars remembering a faraway family.

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.

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes

Illustrated by: Jane Dyer
Age Level: 0-3

Product Description: "Based on the author's own experience, this heartfelt story follows a woman on her journey to adopt a baby girl from China. From paperwork to plane flight, the narrative chronicles the baby's trip from a crib in a big room shared with many other babies to her own crib in her own room in her new room. Jane Dyer's delicate watercolors perfectly complement this charming text, a celebration of the love and joy a baby brings into the world."

Just Add One Chinese Sister: An Adoption Story

Illustrated by: Karen Jerome
Age Level: 6-9

This story of an American family's adoption of a Chinese toddler is storytelling at its finest. The narration in two voices begins as the mother shares a scrapbook she compiled with Claire. Big brother Conor reveals his thoughts through journal entries printed in italics in the wide right margins. The omnipresent dog is a humorous and appealing fourth presence. The composition mimics a scrapbook, with multiple images on a page (sometimes designed as photographs) and other travel paraphernalia, e.g., ticket stubs, receipts, and postcards.

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.

Mother Bridge of Love

By: Anonymous
Illustrated by: Josee Masse
Age Level: 6-9

This poem, submitted by an anonymous adoptive mother to the Mother Bridge of Love charity in London, tells the story of a birth mother and adoptive mother who never meet but are connected by their love for a little Chinese girl. Exquisite paintings illustrate the many ways in which the two women's lives, dreams, and hopes are intertwined, as well as the limitless love they each feel for the little girl.

My Mei Mei

By: Ed Young
Age Level: 3-6

Product Description: More than anything else in the world, Antonia wants a Mei Mei, little sister, to call her own. But when she and her mother and father fly all the way to China to get her little sister and Antonia finally meets her, she is not at all like Antonia imagined her: She can't walk. She can't talk. She just cries and steals attention. But is her Mei Mei all that bad? This charming personal story from Ed Young follows a little girl as she learns what being a big sister is all about, and discovers the real meaning of family.

Red Thread Sisters

Age Level: 9-12

Product Description: Wen has spent the first eleven years of her life at an orphanage in rural China, and the only person she would call family is her best friend, Shu Ling. When Wen is adopted by an American couple, she struggles to adjust to every part of her new life: having access to all the food and clothes she could want, going to school, being someone's daughter. But the hardest part of all is knowing that Shu Ling remains back at the orphanage, alone. Wen knows that her best friend deserves a family and a future, too.

Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale

Illustrated by: Jill Barton
Age Level: 3-6

Product description: This is the magical story of one baby's journey from her birth parents in China, who dream of a better life for their daughter, to her adoptive parents on the other side of the world, who dream of the life they can give her. Many friends along the way shepherd the baby as she floats in a basket on a moonlit, winding river into the loving arms of her new parents.

The Red Blanket

Illustrated by: Joe Cepeda
Age Level: 6-9

"After learning that she has qualified to adopt a baby, a woman purchases a variety of necessities, including a soft, red blanket that she has been eyeing for months. She takes it with her to the orphanage in China. Understandably, the infant, PanPan, is upset by all the changes in her young life when she is taken by taxi to a hotel, and the dazzling red blanket is the only comfort she finds on that first day. Over the years, the blanket has become threadbare and fragile while the relationship between mother and daughter has strengthened." — School Library Journal

The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale

By: Grace Lin
Age Level: 6-9

In this enchanting story from Grace Lin, a king and queen try to find the cause of their mysterious heartache. Finally, an old peddler discovers that someone far away is tugging at their hearts with an invisible red thread. In order to discover who that someone is and cure their heartache, the king and queen must follow the red thread to its end. Based on an ancient Chinese belief that an invisible red thread connects those who are destined to be together, this beautiful book will resonate with adopted children and families alike.

The White Swan Express: A Story About Adoption

Illustrated by: Meilo So
Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: In China, the moon shines on four baby girls, fast asleep in an orphanage. Far away in North America, the sun rises over four homes as the people who live there get ready to start a long, exciting journey. This lovely story of people who travel to China to be united with their daughters describes the adoption process step by step and the anxiety, suspense, and delight of becoming a family. Told with tenderness and humor, and enlivened by joyous illustrations, The White Swan Express will go straight to readers' hearts.

Three Names of Me

Illustrated by: Lin Wang
Age Level: 6-9

"A gentle, sensitive story of international adoption told through the eyes of a Chinese-American girl. Ada Lorane Bennett explains how she came to have several names—the first was from her birth mother and is buried deep in her heart, another she received at the orphanage, and the third came from her adoptive parents.

Waiting for May

Age Level: 6-9

Product Description: In this poignant and heartfelt book, a young boy anticipates the arrival of his new baby sister. She is coming from China to be adopted into his American family. The story describes, month by month, the boy's participation in the long adoption process. Finally the waiting for May is over—she meets her new family, and it is the boy who makes her smile. The child narrator's point of view distinguishes this book from others on this topic and makes it immediate and accessible. Beautifully rendered, sensitive paintings augment the text.

We See the Moon

Age Level: 3-6

"We See the Moon" opens the adoption dialogue at an early age by allowing the questions in your child's heart to be asked and discussed, creating the foundation for conversations to come. This is a story written from the child's perspective, asking the questions that dwell in their hearts about their birthparents: What do you look like? Where are you now? Do you think of me? It will help children use the moon as a private tool to connect with a family that is always with them in their hearts.