Query Letter Example: Memoir


“You’ll find your own birth mom,” our lawyer said. “That’s just how it’s done now.”

We advertised ourselves across the country as hopeful adoptive parents, fielding and vetting birth moms by phone. The first to contact us—there would be eight in all—had been raped by two different men. Ashamed and depressed, she’d spent her pregnancy drinking and doing coke. Did we want to adopt her baby, she asked?

Tara, a birth mom from Vegas who saw our ad on Craigslist, asked: “How do you know you’ll love your adopted baby as much as you love your biological kids?” I told her I just knew.

But honest honest? I wasn’t sure.

We tried posting our flyer at women’s shelters. One director was enthusiastic; they specialized in housing victims of human trafficking. Would we have a problem adopting a baby born of prostitution? I didn’t think I would, but what about my husband?

On New Year’s Day, 2014, a twenty-six-year-old woman we’d never met chose us from her hospital bed. We flew to Sacramento knowing nothing other than a baby was waiting for us. A nurse pulled us aside: Did we know that our birth mom, Destiny (her real name), had tested positive for meth? We did not. But before I was a Girl-Scout-leading, minivan-driving, O.C. mom, I’d been a twenty-six-year-old meth-head, too. Destiny and I were a match made in heaven.

MATCHED (80,000 words) is about the eighteen months I spent obsessed with birth moms. Often branded as saints or whores, my time with them revealed a more complicated and compassionate truth: They’re neither and both, just like the rest us.

There are other adoption memoirs out there, but they are sappy and dreamy and religious and  don’t tell it like it is. Jennifer Gilmore’s semiautobiographical novel, The Mothers, comes closest to offering the real story about adoption. A.M. Homes’ The Mistress’s Daughter, is smart and non-sentimental, but is told from the adoptee’s perspective.

My memoir is the first one written from the perspective of a woman who occupies two corners of the adoption triad (adoptee/adopter/birth mom), as both adoptee and adoptive mom. Part of this story explores how, emboldened by the adoption of my son, I decided it was time to find the woman who’d given birth to me.

I’d love to send you the manuscript or proposal.