The subject for my dark, twisty domestic thriller, The Adoption, set in Tampa, Florida, began with an email from my editor at Bookouture. They had a theme they wanted me to consider for a domestic thriller. Would I be willing to discuss?
My previous book was a crime procedural thriller, The Hunted Girls, the second in the Agent Nadine Finch series, but I’ve always wanted to write a domestic thriller. I jumped at the offer, eager to hear what they had in mind. During our video call, my editor said they were keen to have me write something about adoption, a perfect family with a new baby and then something that threatened them all. With that vagueness in mind, I let my subconscious go.
Shortly after I’d developed the plot line, I came across an article in Wired Magazine, April 2021. The article, Dear Birth Mother, was written by Samantha H Shapiro. The gist of the feature was how the search for adoptees and for biological moms looking for adoptive parents has moved online, and the results are often painful, unpleasant, disappointing, and just plain vile.
Prospective parents were called some things I can’t write here, but among them was one of the most hurtful—human traffickers. Perhaps worse were emotional scammers who pretended to be pregnant to either extort money from would-be parents or to mess with them for some strange, deranged enjoyment.
The birthmothers were equally open to attack. Women trying to find their babies good homes were targeted by trolls, accused of selling their children and worse.
Shapiro also introduced me to something new. I had known that many children are separated from parents by social services. Some then move from child protective services to foster homes to adoption. What Shapiro related was entire organizations operating online as guerilla reunion outfits, tracking down adopted kids to reunite birth mothers and/or grandparents with the children removed by social services the minute the adoptee comes of age.
As an empathetic person, I see the heartache on all sides of such adoptions. Young mothers unable to raise a child, would-be mothers incapable of having a child, grandparents losing their grandchildren to social service and the child separated from, perhaps, an unhealthy environment but also their heritage. There was so much to write about, so many directions to go.
In the end, I crafted my story about one couple, one baby and one birth mother.
My would-be mother is Dani Sutton, a bright, happily married wife of a local judge who is crushed by guilt after causing the auto accident that put her twin sister in a wheelchair and left Dani unable to have children. During her recovery, she relies on her husband and love of her life, Judge Tate Sutton, who has been her rock throughout this tragedy.
The story begins with Dani returning home from the hospital to learn that her husband has somehow secured an adoption. At first, the couple is deliriously happy. The baby girl arrives, making the dream of parenthood a reality. But Dani is anxious, worrying that her husband might have used his position to bend the rules to get them their daughter. And shortly after Willow comes home to the Suttons, Dani notices a woman watching her and the baby. At first, she justifies this as normal. After all, she used to regard mothers with envy and longing. Perhaps this is the same situation. But when the unsettling stranger appears at her home, she cannot dismiss her concerns. Her husband is supportive, but never sees this threat. Soon, dark secrets regarding Dani’s auto accident are revealed and the menacing woman returns to threaten the adoption and the baby.
I hope you will pick up a copy of my gripping domestic thriller, The Adoption, out now.
(c) Jenna Kernan
Visit Jenna at www.jennakernan.com
About The Adoption:
Your little girl is all yours… isn’t she?
Dani and her husband Tate’s life together is almost perfect. But Dani is haunted by guilt for causing a terrible car accident that left her unable to have children. She can’t remember why she was driving so fast that day or where she was going. Her therapist says she should try to move on.
So when their application to adopt is accepted, Dani sobs with joy. As perfect little Willow nestles in her arms, Dani looks at Tate’s loving smile and knows he will always provide for his family, no matter what.
When Dani sees a woman staring as she pushes Willow’s stroller around the safe, gated Florida community where they live, she tells herself it’s simply an admiring passer-by. After all, Dani herself used to watch the local moms and wish she was in their shoes.
But when Dani wakes in the night to find Willow’s crib empty, their perfect life becomes a nightmare.
In her frantic distress for her daughter, Dani’s memories of the accident flash through her mind. And with a jolt she realises: everyone around her has been lying about that day.
Will Dani find out the truth before it’s too late for her baby girl?
Or will facing her own dark secrets tear them all apart?
A totally addictive and heart-stopping read with a truly mind-blowing twist. Fans of The Woman in the Window, Gone Girl and The Wife Between Us won’t be able to put down this incredible thriller from bestselling author Jenna Kernan.
Order your copy online here.