Other People’s Children


Gail and Jon Durbin don’t have the perfect marriage, but after years of trying to start a family – Gail trying, really – they adopt Maya, and it seems that they have finally succeeded. But just four days after Maya comes home, Carli, the birth mother, decides to reclaim her.

 Carli never expected to change her mind, but when her mother barges into the recovery room with the baby, she forces Carli to look at Maya’s face before she gives her away. A ragged empty hole opens where the baby once nestled. And when she reclaims her child, she doesn’t expect the Durbins – and Maya – to disappear without a trace.

 The story examines how social class, trust, and expectations color the search for what’s right. Everyone has expectations going into the adoption, and all their expectations are shattered. Everyone wrestles with what’s right – for themselves, for the other, for Maya. But nobody can change the central reality: there is only one baby.

“Other People’s Children” is based upon Jeff’s short story, “The Binder”, winner of The Madison Review's 2018 Chris O'Malley Prize for Fiction. An excerpt from the novel was named a finalist for The Missouri Review’s 2019 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize and was published by The Baltimore Review. Short stories from the world of the novel have been published by Barely South Review and are forthcoming in the Bellevue Literary Review and December.

Jeff is currently seeking representation.