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Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  264 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
While books about adoption proliferate, none of them addresses the subject of open and interracial adoption like Jana Wolff's personal and frank account does in [i]Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother[/i]. Often irreverent, always insightful, surprisingly funny and stunningly honest, [i]Secret Thoughts[/i] tells it like it is: How it feels for a woman to look nothing like ...more
Paperback, 167 pages
Published January 10th 2010 by Vista Communications (first published February 1997)
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Lisa
Mar 25, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, adoption
As an adoptive mom, this book was exactly what I needed, and I wish I had found it year ago, before we adopted.

The author shares her feelings and fears so honestly, and helps all of us other adoptive moms feel like we aren't the only ones who feel that way. So often we feel like we must be the only people who are worried about loving our adopted children, or if we will feel like a "real" parent, or if adoption really is the best choice, or how to build a connection with a child who doesn't shar
...more
Cheryl Klein
May 05, 2011 Cheryl Klein rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
In a culture that idealizes pregnancy, it's hard to be an adoptive mom. In a culture that increasingly idealizes adoption (see: Angelina--whom we love doubly because she's altruistic AND fertile), Jana Wolff's candor is refreshing. Although I didn't relate to her feeling that adoption was inherently a second choice for any parent (even as a kid, I wanted to adopt a kid), I imagine that someday I'll relate to her envy and resentment of her baby's birth mom; her slow-to-bloom love for this strange ...more
Emily
Jul 23, 2008 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lighthearted yet honest in her feelings, Wolff brings up all manner of thoughts that go through your head when you are entering the realm of adoption. This book really made me feel like I wasn't the only one who might wonder some of these things!
Julie
Apr 04, 2014 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Memoirs are incredibly personal, and it's challenging to write one that is both honest and yet doesn't throw friends and family members too far under the bus. I felt that Ms. Wolff had a good balance here of honesty and writing ability, but this entire book bothered me.

I have obviously not lived the author's life, but we do have some similarities. Unlike her, I was able to birth a healthy, biological son, but obstacles with pregnancy and delivery led us to choosing a different path for future ch
...more
Erin
Jan 09, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing
I highlighted the hell out of this book. It is a must-read for anyone considering adoption, especially interracial adoption.

Wolff is brutally honest, and I mean that not as a fall-back cliche but truly, brutally so. It's not many mothers who are brave enough to admit that they didn't love their children immediately, adoptive or biological. It's not many adoptive mothers who will admit jealousy and resentment of the birth mother, and even less who will admit that for them, adoption was a second
...more
Jessica
Feb 18, 2010 Jessica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: adoptive parents
Recommended to Jessica by: my sister-in-law
Shelves: adoption
This book is about a mother, her struggles in becoming a parent of a child through adoption and an interracial family. It is a story about the benefits and anxieties associated with domestic open adoption following infertility. She talks candidly about both infertility and adoption.

I found this book to be a very quick and easy read. She wans't trying to lecture me on how to behave, just old it like it was for her. It was so nice to hear in print from a mother that has gone through many of the t
...more
Emily
Jun 29, 2010 Emily rated it really liked it
This is a classic 'don't judge a book by it's cover,' because the title of this book suggests a different tone than it really is. And the cover picture of the copy I read was pretty lame.

I felt extremely validated during this very quick read (practically one sitting and that with an infant in my arms!). She addresses feelings that are real and honest, without being overly cynical. Her feelings don't all resolve to nice neat packages in the end, but the overall feeling is positive. She sees adopt
...more
Ellyn
Jan 29, 2010 Ellyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
This is a very honest and straightforward book written by a mother who (along with her husband) adopted her son domestically through open adoption. She is very open about her journey and the wonderful parts, strange parts, and sorrowful parts of the adoption process. It's a short book and a quick read. The author provides insight into the cognitive process of coming to know and love an adopted child and does not shy away from revealing thoughts and feelings that others might consider wrong or ta ...more
Betsy
Jul 10, 2008 Betsy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: adoptive parents, family of those adopting
Though this book is on every recommended reading list for prospective adoptive parents, I put off purchasing it as I knew it dealt with issues of infertility and domestic adoption - neither of which affected me personally. Oh, how pleased I am that I finally ordered this gem! This should be required reading for adoptive parents as it delves into taboo topics and shared feelings than only fellow PAPs can understand. I'll be earmarking chapters of this for my husband as well. Definitely a must-rea ...more
Bookish
Mar 10, 2009 Bookish rated it really liked it
Now this is a personal account that I can totally relate to, not because I have experienced what she experienced, but because I so relate to her thoughts & feelings about different aspects of the adoption process. She talks about things that are almost taboo, and it is really refreshing to get that kind of honest account while still showing that, ultimately, it was all worth it. Anyone who is researching adoption or interested in any aspect of the adoption process would find this an interest ...more
Stephanie
May 03, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
As my husband and I wait for a birthmother to pick us, somedays we think we're going crazy. And some days we think do we really want to do this to ourselves. Loved this book's honesty about this whole very surreal, weird experience. If you know John and I and want to understand how we feel right now, I recommend this book. She says the things that we never say to anyone but each other,but wish we could.
Shanamadele
Aug 10, 2007 Shanamadele rated it liked it
Recommends it for: any one considering open adoption
Shelves: adoption
This is a pretty good book that. The author shares her inner thoughts (not so inner anymore, are they?) about aspects of her open adoption of a child of a race different from hers. It's a quick read; the chapters are basically brief essays on each topic. I expected more from the description -- I thought she would share other perspectives.

The book is a little hard to track down. I got it through interlibrary loan (yay, interlibrary loan!).
Sara
Feb 17, 2009 Sara rated it really liked it
I felt like the first half of this book could have been written by me- and probably all other adoptive moms out there. It was so true, and sad, and funny all at the same time. The second half was a bit different from my situation, but good none the less. I wish all my friends and family would read this to understand a little bit what adoptive mothers go through. It was a quick read, took only a couple of hours.
Nicole Cushing
Feb 27, 2010 Nicole Cushing rated it it was amazing
The adoption agency my husband and I are working with "prescribed" this book as required reading, since we're considering transracial adoption. I think this book is impressive in its candor about adoption in general and the forming of transracial families, in particular.

A huge resource for future (or current) adoptive parents as well as an educational resource for those curious about how transracial adoption works in the real world. Highly recommended.
Ashley Taylor
Dec 27, 2016 Ashley Taylor rated it did not like it
The author of this book so bitter and cynical, the source of which is her infertility and being "forced" to adopt. I want to say that her honesty is refreshing, but truthfully, this book just made me angry that her bitter words were given a platform. I pray that her adopted child never reads these pages.
Robin
Apr 19, 2011 Robin rated it it was amazing
This is a really amazing book. I learned about what adoptive parents are dealing with... their insecurities, issues, hopes, and fears. There are several chapters on racism... not the hateful kind, but the kind of unknowing racism that most people have.

Jana Wolff's humor is priceless. She is clever and witty.

This book is a short, interesting read. It will open your eyes!
Krista
Jul 25, 2011 Krista rated it it was amazing
Completely fantastic! It is so great to hear someone deal with adoption so openly - the good parts and the bad. Her humor is just bordering on irreverent, but doesn't cross the line: the beautiful things are still beautiful. Also an excellent treatment of trans racial adoption issues.
Christina
Aug 08, 2008 Christina rated it really liked it
I could not put this book down.

It was really gripping to read how an adoptive mother learned about the unquestioned/unremarked upon racism through the experiences of her son.

Very thought provoking about the realities of adopting a child of color.
Stephanie
Dec 19, 2010 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Jana Wolff got into my head and truly understood and bravely verbalizes the tough and sometimes shame inducing aspects of being an adoptive mom. A good read that helped me feel like I am not alone. She courageously addressed the adoptive mom woes and worries in a humorous manner.
Camille
Aug 27, 2008 Camille rated it it was amazing
This book hit home on so many of my own thoughts and feelings and I found myself almost sobbing at times. However, the author is hilarious and I often laughed out loud as well. An excellent, very quick read especially for those touched by adoption.
Stacy
Nov 07, 2009 Stacy rated it it was amazing
I read this book in one night. I loved it, Wolff was honest and endearing and didnt make me feel nervous or anxious about adopting. While I dont think I will choose a completely open adoption, this book gives great insight into people that do. Wonderfu.
Karen C
Sep 27, 2007 Karen C rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it
Would call it a must read for parents who are adopting - and their friends and family. Expresses a lot of the questions and thoughts that roll around in an adoptive parent's head - the thoughts they can't share out loud.
Julia
Nov 15, 2010 Julia rated it it was amazing
This is a great book--which definitely made me tear up openly on a plane. This is perfect for me right now because it addressed all of the questions about adoption it doesn't seem right to ask people, but I really wanted to know the answers to!
Sandi van
Sep 03, 2008 Sandi van rated it really liked it
I loved the way Wolff takes the reader through the adoption journey - from infertility treatments to parenting - with complete openess and honesty. A must read for anyone wishing to know more about what it means to become a mother through adoption.
Elizabeth
Mar 03, 2010 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Captured ALMOST everything I felt related to the struggle of becoming a mother. It was so good to read someone else's words, so well written, that related so completely to my own story.
Bonnie
Aug 08, 2008 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
This was a fabulous books. If you are at all touched by the world of adoption, it hits home. The insecurities, the self-doubt, everything.
Chia Chin
Aug 01, 2010 Chia Chin rated it it was amazing
Loved the brave honesty & the decision not to self-censor on the complexity of emotions experienced.
Sally
May 08, 2008 Sally rated it it was amazing
Although her adoption situation was a bit different than mine, what I found in this book is permission to feel a range of emotions about the whole adoption experience.
Lea
Aug 18, 2008 Lea rated it it was amazing
I LOVED THIS BOOK. I swear I could have written it myself. Awesome. I read it in 3 hours.
Amber
Nov 13, 2008 Amber rated it really liked it
Good insights, helpful things I didn't think about!
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“Meeting your adoptive baby is like being set up on a blind date with someone you will have to spend the next eighteen years with. You care about looks, because you desperately want to fall in love with the stranger who will be your child.” 5 likes
“By adopting, I was not a full-fledged mother in their eyes. I hadn't paid the price of pregnancy, hadn't earned the badge of labor or the award for delivery, and would forever be an outside --an associate member at best. I looked like the other women, but I felt like less of one.” 5 likes
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