When we first started the process of becoming foster parents I rapidly realized that I was walking into a giant unknown - I was a new parent, a new foster parent and quickly became aware that I had NO idea what I was doing.
I'm not someone who is comfortable with feeling unprepared so I promptly immersed myself in reading every book I could find on the topic. Over the last twelve years I have read almost every book that Amazon lists under foster care or adoption - some I loved, some were okay, some I gave up on half way through.
The list below is my personal favorites list - I am sure there are many excellent books I am missing on the list (please add a comment at the end telling us which books you loved that I did not include)...
(Please note: Richie's Wish receives a small percentage of any purchases made using the links on this page through the Amazon Affiliate program, funds received through this program will be used to support upcoming projects).
Another Place At The Table
This book is written by a foster mother. It is real, it is hard hitting but it gives you a wonderful insight into what it is really like to be a foster parent.
I have re-read this book several times over the years and connect with it in a different way each time.
The Connected Child
Every foster parent I have ever met has had a moment where they stood and scratched their head and said "But why would they do that?"
Kids who have lived through trauma have some crazy behaviors. This book does a great job connecting behaviors to feelings and giving parents practical tools to meet their child where they are at and start bonding. This is another book I read over and over - and learn something new each time.
This book is not a parenting guide but rather is a rather interesting exploration of the history and human impact of adoption. Facts and figures about adoption in America are interspersed with stories making for an interesting read. The first edition of this book was published in 2001 - the 2011 edition explores how changing attitudes and laws have transformed adoption in American and helps prospective adoptive parents understand why things are the way they are now.
Adopting the Hurt Child
I read this book early in our fostering journey. It was a MAJOR eye opener for me. This book dives into the scary topic of parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). It is NOT an easy read -it is very real, and at times upsetting but it gave me some really good insight into what I may be signing up for.
This was one of the books I tucked onto the shelf, and hoped I never needed. When I found myself knee deep in parenting a child with an attachment disorder I was glad I had read this book early in our journey.
Parenting the Hurt Child
This book is the follow on from Adopting the Hurt Child and gives some practical "how do I apply what I learned before" advise. Some of the advise I followed, some didn't sit right with me - but the book gave me a great started place to understand how to apply all the learning on trauma and brain development
Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Parents Knew
If you google 'adoption blog', 'foster care blog' you have to scroll for a good long time before you find a blog written by an adoptee. In the foster care and adoption world - foster/adoptive parent voices are easy to find, birth parent voices harder to locate, adoptee voices almost silent. As a potential adoptive parent I wanted to understand my child's perspective - but I was adopting two teenagers and it is HARD to get a teenager to talk to you about feeling stuff
I would read chapters of this book and then ask my sons what they thought about 'Julie's experience' - it's a whole lot safer to talk about how 'Julie' may feel about adoption then talk about what your own feelings are. While my sons did not agree with all of the perspective offered it introduced a lot of discussion in our family
The Out of Sync Child
This book is not specifically written for foster or adoptive parents - it tackles the topic of parenting a child with a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
Kids who have been exposed to trauma have a higher rate of SPD then the general population. My SPD kiddo is home grown and I bought this book after she was diagnosed at the age of seven - it is a great guide for parents grappling to understand what exactly an SPD is, what it means, and how to cope with it!
The 5 Love Languages of Children
This book is also not aimed at foster or adoptive parents specifically - you can apply these ideas to home grown kids too!
I read the 5 love languages for couples book first - and for the first time realized that my husband and I communicate love in very different ways. I had been married 10 years at this point and this was a game changer for us, realizing that we had different 'love languages' . Figuring out how my kids needed different things to feel love changed the way I parent. I have one kid who is all about "physical touch" - she needs hugs and a lot of them to know she is loved. I had one son who is a "Physical Touch/Words of Affirmation" kid - he needed to hear "I love you, I value you" a whole bunch, but also relied on hugs and physical contact to know he was loved. My other son is a "Gifts/Words of Affirmation" guy - he knows I love him when I buy him little things (nothing expensive, the little tokens mean a lot to him too) but also needs me to say it pretty often.
I am NOT a words person - I don't particularly care if anyone ever tells me they love me, I feel loved when people do little things to help me. I am also not a physical touch person. If I didn't get hugged for a week I would be just fine, my daughter may melt if she had to go a week without hugs. Figuring out that my kids needed me to communicate love in different ways helped me to be a better parent to all three of them.
Did we miss your favorite book? Tell us about it in the comments below and we will add it to the list.