My daughter did not grow in my body.

We both know this.

If we squint our eyes and cock our heads just the right way, we can remember a time that we were not together. But it seems so long ago.

At first it seemed like pretend.

A little stranger moving into my home. A big stranger promising forever.

My daughter was quick to call me “Mom.”

I wore the title clumsily, if eagerly.

We spent six months honeymooning together, my daughter and I.

And then another few testing each other out in every imaginable way.

I remember once upon a time someone asked me if I planned to tell my daughter that she was adopted.

I think I might have laughed in their face.

She was standing right there.

A whip-smart preschooler who didn’t miss a trick.

A little girl whose story I chose to embrace when she became part of my family.

A story that did not always include me.

My daughter did not grow in my body.

We both know this.

But there are these moments, sometimes, when we forget.

These moments when we feel so right together. When our family feels so natural.

Flipping through a photo album, she sees a sonogram of my nephew.

“Mama,” she asks. “Do you have a picture of me when I was in your belly?”

As soon as the words escape her mouth, she laughs.

We both laugh.

(Although later I cry because I would love so much to have a sonogram of my own daughter.)

We’re talking about baby hair.

About how sometimes it changes texture and sometimes it all falls out and grows in totally different.

“Mama,” she asks, “What was my hair like when I was a baby?”

“Oh, Love, I wish that I could tell you.”

She smiles, because when she thinks for a second, she knows that I wasn’t there.

But I am her mama.

And these are questions you ask your mama.

These days, it doesn’t feel like pretend. Our life is as real as it gets.

We’ve lived joy and sorrow, pride and fear together.

We are as much family as anyone with whom I share my blood.

It was not always this way.

But now I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have become Mom.

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