In Portland, Oregon, the (fictional) Chosen Child adoption agency operates with a specific mission in mind: families can be created. To the social workers who work there, including Chloe Pinter who directs the domestic adoption program, the mission is one that almost supersedes everything else in their lives. Their hours are unpredictable, interrupting many moments of personal interaction. Chloe’s relationship with her fiancé Dan is precarious at times because of the demands of the job.
But Chloe forges ahead, connecting birth parents to adoptive ones with a zeal that seemingly consumes her.
In this tale about creating families, the alternating chapters focus on individual characters, from Chloe, to individual birth parents, and to a couple that once tried to adopt, but now has a birth child.
Each exploration reveals the emotional drains as well as the eager anticipation of each character, whether that character is one waiting for an adoptive child or is a birth parent struggling with the pain of giving up a child. We come to empathize with the pain, the struggles, and finally the joy that comes when everyone achieves his/her goal.
But the story does not end with the “chosen family” riding off into the sunset. We also see the regrets of the birth parents, the struggles of new parenthood for the adoptive ones, and even a case of postpartum depression that almost leads to disaster.
Hoffman’s portrayal of the birth/adoption process was realistic, delving into the flaws of all the characters with sensitivity. Social workers, as well as birth parents, are human and subject to errors in judgment. These insights added depth to Chosen: A Novel, which resulted in a five-star review from this reader.