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

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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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.

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.
  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!
  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!
  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 ;-))
  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.
  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!
  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.

We’re working on creating a new list for the fall of new titles we recommend, but for now, I’ll include them here:

You won’t be sorry with any of these great titles!

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!

What are some additional helpful books you’ve discovered. Share them (and a link to order) in the comment section below this post.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.