“We’ll give her a cocktail of medicine before we take her back.” the anesthesiologist told me. “It will relax her, make her a little tired, and not care when we take her away from you.” he promised.
He promised she wouldn’t be upset, but he had underestimated the strength of Gracie’s resolve.
My toddler daughter’s eyes turned glassy, her feet unsteady, but her desperate need to remain with her mother in an unfamiliar situation was stronger than ever. I passed her into a stranger’s arms and watched helplessly as they carried her down the hall crying and screaming for me to come with her. I tried to put on a brave face as I walked slowly back to the waiting room, half-wishing they would have given me a drug cocktail of my own.
Taking up my post beside the other nervous friends and family members, and sharply feeling the absence of my tiny sidekick, I couldn’t help but think of the separated families at the border. Children not gently handed to a caring stranger, but ripped from their mother’s arms.
It’s now late July. More than a month since the order to reunite the separated families, the vast majority are still fractured, and some may never be reunited.
These families have no promises. What they had was hope of a better life over the border. Hope that the American Dream could be their dream too, that they could find a way to make a safer place, a safer life, a safer future for their families. Instead they were thrown into detention centers, had their children taken, and were only given promises of being prosecuted for their “crimes.” Neither parents nor children were given anything to numb the pain.
They’re not getting updates on how their kids are doing. They don’t even know where their children are, who’s taking care of them, or if they’re healthy. Apparently the government doesn’t have a clear picture of where everyone is either, and hundreds upon hundreds of children are still just waiting and hoping to see a parent again.
I tried my best to keep myself occupied as I waited - scrolling on my phone, playing mindless games - and before the hour was up the surgeon himself sat down next to me to say he was done and everything went great. Someone would be out to take me back to her soon. They led me to her recovery room just as she was coming out of the anesthesia, crying and kicking like a wild baby animal. I was quickly ushered into a waiting recliner as my firstborn was pulled out of the cage-like hospital crib and nestled into my arms. I made those soothing sounds a mother instinctively knows and she settled in my arms and went back to sleep, safe in the knowledge she was where she belonged. I wish I could promise the mothers still missing their babies the same.