Author Nancy Tupper Ling’s latest children’s book was, she admits, unexpected.

“It was a surprise to me,” says the Massachusetts mother of two. “I was driving down the road and I thought, What if a child ended up on a parent’s doorstep? What kind of story would you tell your child as to how he or she came into your life?”

Those fanciful questions resulted in the recently released picture book, The Story I’ll Tell. In its pages, a mother tells her son beautiful, extraordinary stories of his arrival (via balloon, a stallion, an angel, a lark’s song, the August moon, and more) each bearing a tidbit of the truth, which by the end of the book is pieced together into the child’s actual adoption story.

Also an award-winning poet, Ling returned to familiar ground to communicate her vision: “I began thinking of it as a poem, the fantastic ways the child could have come into their life, almost like a bedtime story a parent would tell her child.”

Regardless of the amazing stories the mother spins for the boy in her lap, the underlying message is clear: The mother always sought the child, who was destined to be her son and protected by her from the moment they met.

Though not an adoptive parent, Ling was inspired by friends who have built their family through international adoption and has been often mistaken for a member of the community.

“My children are half-Chinese, so I always have been asked if they’re adopted because I’m Caucasian and they look more like my husband,” she laughs.

When it came time to pick an ethnicity for the book’s child, Ling looked no further than her family, weaving in Chinese symbols and culture, reinforced by illustrator Jessica Lanan’s soothing artwork.

“Even though it ended up as an adoption story, I would love it to reach anyone, to think about their [family] story,” Ling says.

The Story I’ll Tell is Ling’s second picture book to feature Chinese-American characters. Double Happiness, released last year, tells the story of a brother and sister who move from the West Coast to the East Coast. To help with the transition, the siblings gather small treasures to put into a Happiness Box, so they can bring their joy with them no matter where they go.

Her first children’s book, My Sister, Alicia May, outlines the story of a girl with Down syndrome, told from her older sister’s perspective, a story she says was inspired by a friend’s children.

A former stay-at-home mom, Ling says she would “write down my ideas wherever I was” when inspiration struck, but saved actual writing time for when her daughters were asleep: “I worked as soon as they went to bed, and that was my writing time, 7 to 11 or midnight.”

In addition to working on a novel for tweens and also working in a local library, Ling is the founder of Fine Line Poets (finelinepoets.com), a Website for New England poets.

For more on Ling’s work, visit nancytupperling.com.