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"In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." - Mortimer J. Adler




Want to learn more about adoption? There are so many books out there that it is hard to know where to start. We asked the team at Jigsaw Qld to nominate some books that they felt were the best starting points and here are their top picks. If you want to explore further, always check the reference list at the end of a book or we have included more options below the featured books. This is an ever-growing list, so if you know of a book that we should include, please tell us by emailing 


Did you hear the singing and see the fireworks go off? You'll be hard-pressed to find an adopted person who wouldn't nominate this book as the one that started them on the journey of understanding their adoption experience. Written by Nancy Verrier, a clinical psychologist, marriage, family and child therapist who adopted a daughter in 1969, The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child talks about the trauma that occurs when a baby is separated from their mother. This book is an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to understand the adoption experience.

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Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness has less of a scientific approach compared to Verrier's books, but similarly it explores the psychological effects of adoption on adoptees, acknowledging the separation between mother and child as a trauma that impacts both parties. First published in 1994, she also provides in-depth exploration of the psychological and spiritual themes experienced by adoptees prior to, during and following a search and reunion. It is based on Betty Jean Lifton's own experience as an adoptee, as well as in-depth interviews with adoptees and fifty questionnaires completed by mothers. Betty Jean Lifton, Ph.D. (now deceased), was a writer, psychotherapist and leading advocate for adoption reform.



Genetic genealogy is one of the hottest topics in genealogy today. This expanded, updated guide will walk readers through the benefits of DNA testing for genealogists as well as outline the most frequently used tests and services. Discover the answers to your family history mysteries using the most-cutting edge tool available to genealogists. This plain-English guide, newly revised and expanded, is a one-stop resource on genetic genealogy for family historians. 



Ever After - Fathers and the Impact of Adoption by Gary Coles (2004). Gary Coles is a father who lost his child to adoption. In this book he integrates his personal experience, those of other fathers and comments on the repercussions of adoption for all members of the separated family, particularly fathers.



Written by Liz Trinder, Julia Feast & David Howe (2004), this book is based on a large scale study in the UK. This book offers an overview of the common experiences in reunion and provides practical advice.



In her second instalment, Coming Home to Self: Healing the primal wound, Nancy Verrier moves her focus to awareness and healing. Written for anyone affected by adoption, including professionals, it explains the influence imprinted upon the neurological system and, thus, on future functioning. It explains how false beliefs create fear and perpetuate being ruled by the wounded child. it is a book which will help adoptees discover their authentic selves after living without seeing themselves reflected back all of their lives.



The first edition of Betty Jean Lifton's Lost and Found: the adoption experience advanced the adoption rights movement in this country in 1979, challenging many states' policies of maintaining closed birth records. For nearly three decades the book has topped recommended reading lists for those who seek to understand the effects of adoption.



Evelyn Robinson is a social worker as well as a mother who lost her son to adoption. In Adoption and Loss: The Hidden Grief she comments on her personal experience as well as her professional experience regarding how adoption loss has affected all members of the adoption triangle. 



Adoption and Recovery: Solving the mystery of reunion extends upon Evelyn's previous book, Adoption and Loss. She explains the dynamics of reunion within a grief framework and the challenges, lessons and opportunities for growth brought about by adoption. 


More Non-Fiction Books


Brodinsky, D, Schechter, M and Henig, R. 1993 Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self, Anchor Books, New York.


Cassidy J and Shaver R. 2010 Handbook of Attachment Theory, Research and Clinical Applications, The Guilford Press, New York.

Clapton, G. 2003 Birth Fathers and their Adoption Experiences. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London.

Coles, G. 2008 Transparent: Seeing Through the Legacy of Adoption, Clova Publications, Christies Beach.

Coles, C. 2014 Made in Australia: The Adoption Apologies, Mermurus Books, Australia.

Coles, G. 2015 Disturbing Adoption: The Collected Pieces, Mermerus Books, Australia. 

Coles, G. 2011 Invisible Men of Adoption, Clova Publications, Christies Beach. 

Doka, K. (Ed) 2002 Disenfranchised Grief: New directions, challenges and strategies for practice, Research Press, Illinois.


Golding I, Dent H and Nissim R. 2006 Thinking Psychologically About Children Who are Looked After and Adopted: Space for Reflection, John Wiley and Sons, West Sussex.

Kaplan Roszia, S. & Davis Maxon, A. 2019 Seven Core Issues of Adoption and Permanency. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London.


Long, L. & A. Gale (ed.) 2017 The Colour of Time: A longitudinal exploration of the impact of intercountry adoption in Australia, International Social Services, Sydney.

Marshall, A and McDonald M. 2001 The Many-Sided Triangle: Adoption in Australia, Melbourne University Press, Carlton South.


Novy, M. (ed) 2004 Imagining Adoption: Essays on Literature and Culture, University of Michigan Press, Michigan.


Novy, M. 2007 Reading Adoption: Family and Difference in Fiction and Drama, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor.


Pavao, J. 1998 The Family of Adoption, Beacon Press, Boston.


Robinson, E. 2018 Adoption and Reunion: Ecstasy or Agony?, 21st Century Edition, Clova Publications, Christies Beach.

Robinson, E. 2018 Adoption and Separation: Then and Now, 21st Century Edition, Clova Publications, Christies Beach.

Rosenberg, E. 1992 The Adoption Life Cycle: The Children and Their Families Through the Years, Free Press, New York.

Trinder, L., Feast, J. & Howe, D. 2004 The Adoption Reunion Handbook, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, England.


Triseliotis, J, Feast, J and Kyle, F. 2005 The Adoption Triangle Revisited: A study of adoption, search and reunion experience, British Association for Adoption & Fostering, London.



Brierley, S  2013 Lion (formerly published as A Long Way Home: A Memoir), Penguin, Victoria.


Didion, J 2011 Blue Nights, Fourth Estate, London.


Ellis, T. 2010 The Search: A Memoir of an Adopted Woman, iUniverse, Bloomington.


Glazebrook, C. 2001 Facing the Fears, Boolarong Press, Salisbury.

Hill, R. 2012. Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in my DNA. Families.


Howarth, K. 2010 Ten Hail Marys, Penguin, Victoria.


Jones, D. 2005 My Father’s House: A Life of Adoption, iUniverse, Lincoln.


Lifton, B. 1975 Twice Born: Memoirs of An Adopted Daughter, McGraw Hill, New York.

MaColl, R,R, 2017 For a Girl: A True Story of Secrets, Motherhood and Hope. Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest.


McCutcheon, S. 2005 The Magician's Son, Penguin, New York.

McFarlane, S & Leuba, R. 2016 Heartlines: The Year I Met My Other Mother, Penguin Random House, Australia.

McMahon, P. 2011 Becoming Patrick. Deep Root Press, California.

Phillips, R.H. 2011 Mother Me. Gemma Media, Boston.

Phillips, R.J. 2018 Somebody's Daughter: A Moving Journey of Discovery and Adoption. John Blake Publishing, London.


Pinkerton, E. 2012 The Goodbye Baby: A Diary About Adoption, AuthorHouse, Bloomington.

Tickner, R. 2020 Ten Doors Down: the Story of an Extraordinary Adoption Reunion. Scribe Publications, Carlton North.

Timmermans, V. 2017 You Named Me Sheree, Lulu Publishing Services.


Winterson, J. 2011 Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, Jonathan Cape, London.

Xin Ran. 2010 Message From an Unknown Chinese Mother. Vintage, London.

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