Novel Approach: Adoption and custody come into play in ‘Other People’s Children’

“Being a parent wasn't just about bearing a child. It was about bearing witness to its life.” —Jodi Picoult

Parenthood isn’t for the faint of heart. Sure most people can make a child, but not everyone has the ability to raise a child. Creating a child doesn’t make someone a parent, but loving and caring for their child does. Our latest read takes us to the Midwest, as three mothers each stake a claim on an infant in a flopped adoption case.

Other People’s Children by R.J. Hoffmann

In his debut novel R.J. Hoffmann bursts out of the gate with an engrossing and heartbreaking tale of an adoption gone wrong.

“Other People’s Children” is an emotional page-turner that revolves around three mothers and their claims to one infant. After years of trying Gail and her husband Jon decide to adopt a baby. During that process Carli, a pregnant teen, selects them to be her baby’s adoptive parents. Both mother and the adoptive parents are content with their arrangement until Carli’s mother Marla intervenes and raises hell about seeing her grandchild go home with another family. As the adoption quickly goes off the rails, the social worker, Paige, trying to support both families finds herself sucked into the drama between the two families, as they each try to claim the baby as their own.

Written from the perspectives of the adopting couple, birth mother, biological grandmother and social worker, Hoffmann’s tale reveals the menagerie of emotions that come into play during the adoption process.

“Other People’s Children” moves at a rapid pace as the tension grows between the two families, which will keep readers glued to the novel until they find out who gets to keep the daughter they love so much. As the story progresses, Hoffmann’s novel poses questions about what it means to be a parent, as both families find themselves snagged in a gray legal area in their efforts to gain custody of the baby.

Readers be warned: the novel does discuss difficult topics including abuse and miscarriages that might be upsetting for some readers.

From the book jacket…

What makes a family?

Gail and Jon Durbin moved to the Chicago suburbs to set up house as soon as Gail got pregnant. But then she miscarried—once, twice, three times. Determined to expand their family, the Durbins turn to adoption. When several adoptions fall through, Gail’s desire for a child overwhelms her.

Carli is a pregnant teenager from a blue-collar town nearby, with dreams of going to college and getting out of her mother’s home. When she makes the gut-wrenching decision to give her baby up for adoption, she chooses the Durbins. But Carli’s mother, Marla, has other plans for her grandbaby.

If you enjoy…

For readers looking for more literary adoption drama, Celeste Ng’s novel “Little Fires Everywhere” tells the story of two very different mothers who find themselves facing off against each other when it comes to the custody of a child.