On a bright, hot afternoon in July 2010, Julia Barnes* gave birth in a Chicago hospital to a slightly premature but healthy five-pound boy after a short labor. When he emerged, black hair plastered to his head, she looked away and did not ask to hold her child—or, as she kept reminding herself, “the” child.Read the whole thing. Not exactly a feel-good piece, and the adoption doesn't seem like a happy ending in the circumstances. I came away from reading it more than a little depressed, which probably wasn't the author's intent. What about you?
This was far from the blissful scenario she’d imagined when she and her husband, her college sweetheart Bill, learned she was pregnant the previous fall. But as her stomach had grown and she’d begun picturing her future as a mother, Julia discovered a secret that upended her life.
Lying in the hospital bed, now finding herself unable to take her eyes off her newborn as he was cleaned and swathed by nurses, she focused on what she’d trained herself to think during her pregnancy whenever she felt the jab of a small foot or glanced down to see her abdomen rippling: He doesn’t belong to me, he doesn’t belong to me. Julia had chosen a couple to adopt the baby, and the wife was there—she cut the cord. Watching the adoptive mother trail out of the room behind the nurse and the baby in his crib, Julia silently repeated another mantra: I’m not what’s best for him, I’m not what’s best for him.
Julia was not physically or mentally ill, nor was she poor or very young, unable to make a living, or alone in the world. At the time she gave birth, she was, in fact, a 30-year-old lawyer who’d been thrilled when she conceived the first time she and her husband tried. Yet eight months later, she was intoning to herself, The baby doesn’t belong to me; I’m not what’s best for him.
Gregory Maguire's full review
13 hours ago