Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Adoption is Complicated, Even in Fiction
For the last couple of years I've been obsessively reading anything and everything I could get my hands on that dealt with adoption. I have a gazillion adoption blogs bookmarked, I have a subscription to Adoptive Families magazine and I've read a lot of 'What to Expect When You're Adopting' books and memoirs by adoptees. I even read one really great novel, The English American which features an adult adoptee protagonist searching for her birth parents.
But I just finished reading a new book, Chosen by first-time novelist Chandra Hoffman that gave me completely new -- and often uncomfortable -- insights on the complicated world of adoption. From the adoption agencies to the adoptive parents, Chosen examines the perspectives of everyone involved in an adoption plan. Now a full-time writer and mother of three, Hoffman worked in an orphanage in Romania and as the director of a domestic adoption program in the United States, so the story she tells in Chosen feels very real.
The story is really about a young case worker named Chloe Pinter who takes a job at the Chosen Adoption Agency because she thinks bringing families together is a noble cause. In alternating chapters we hear from a set of birth parents who life has kicked around a few times too many, the adoptive parents who have an excess of money but lack a certain warmth, and another couple who struggled with infertility but eventually get pregnant, but they still maintain a connection with the Agency.
I'd label the book an adoption thriller because there is definitely a plot twist that will have you turning pages faster than you can read them. But also, just the very nature of domestic adoption where one never knows if birth mother will place, if adoptive parents will be picked, if the child will be happy... it all feels like a roller coaster of emotions anyway. I was tense while reading the whole book. But I'm glad I read it because I really feel like I learned a lot more about the business of adoption, how agencies work and some crucial insights into why a woman might choose adoption for her child. I cried a few times while reading.
The book comes out on the same day as Substitute Me, August 24, 2010.