sunset

By Jennifer Palmer for Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers

"Do you think you'll try to adopt again?" they ask, and the question settles on my shoulders like a shroud. My heart begins to race and my palms begin to sweat and my first instinct is to shake my head violently, to run fast and hard from the very idea lest it lodge itself in my brain and take root. The mere thought of walking that path again makes me want to lash out, to cry, to curl up in a ball in the corner of my room and hide from the world.

This reaction is all beneath the surface; somehow, I try to remain calm. I shrug my shoulders and give a half-smile. "I don't know," I answer. "We'll have to see what comes."

* * *

I was there on the day my daughter was born. My husband and I arrived at the hospital early, having been startled awake by the jangle of my cell phone in the wee hours of the morning, and so I was there to see it all.

I was there with her maternal birth family-her mom of course, but also her grandmother and great-grandmother and multiple great-aunts. We made quite the crowd, there in the delivery room, laughing and crying and praying together, all waiting for her to come.

I was there for the early stages of labor, when the contractions were few and far between. I was there when the pain began in earnest, when my daughter's oh-so-very-young-and-scared teenage mom was given her epidural. I was there for transition. I was there as her mom pushed, and I counted and I encouraged and I held my breath along with everyone else. I was there when my daughter crowned, when the long hours of waiting were finally over and she slipped, alive and healthy, into the doctor's competent hands. I was there.

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