What does it mean to be part of two cultures? Kids who grow up in the United States but who are adopted from other countries ask themselves this often. They navigate the challenges and enjoy the richness of their complex heritages. In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, below are books about international adoption with parents from the United States and babies from Asia. Whether or not your family has experienced cross-cultural adoption, these stories will resound. At their center, they are about the love between parents and their children.
My Mei Mei by Ed Young is based on his real life. His older daughter, who was adopted from China, talks about the adoption of her baby sister, Mei Mei, when she was three. This story follows the tensions and delights of sisterhood.
Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale by Karen Henry Clark/ Illustrated by Patrice Barton takes a fantastical view of the adoption process. A Chinese couple wants a better life for their baby daughter, so they send her down river in a basket. Animals carry the sleeping baby along while her adoptive parents in America travel far to bring her home.
Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell/ Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher depicts the growing pains that a young girl has when she immigrates from Korea to the United States. She cannot speak English, but her adoptive parents learn some Korean words so that they can communicate. The girl, Soo Min, bonds with the family cat and finally feels at home when the lost feline returns.
Every Year on Your Birthday by Rose Lewis/ Illustrated by Jane Dyer is a love letter from a mother to the daughter she adopted from China. It describes how the family celebrated each of her birthdays up to when she turned five. The text and pictures show how they integrate part of American life with traditions from her Chinese heritage.
The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale by Grace Lin is a story within a story. An Asian girl and her Caucasian parents are reading together. The book is about a king and queen who follow the red strings tugging painfully at their hearts, to discover, at the end, a beautiful baby meant just for them. The story makes subtle connections between the contemporary family reading the book and the one in the fairytale.