Adeline Herena, photographed by her father Eddie Herena, 18 days after her birth.

When you’re in prison it’s hard to not think about life beyond prison. My mind was never stuck. I was always thinking about my future. What I wanted it to look like and who I wanted it to be a part of it. Children were always something that I desired. Especially after I got found suitable in March 2018, I thought: I want to have kids one day.

Adeline was born April 4 at 3:06 a.m. in Walnut Creek, California. Under COVID-19, the hospital only allowed my partner Jessica one visitor. Of course it was going to be me, since I’m the father. Witnessing my child being born was definitely a supernatural experience. I was blown away by the strength of women and the whole birth experience. I would have liked my family to be there but no one was allowed to come in. Everyone stayed home; instead we did a lot of FaceTime. I had a big Zoom meeting with my entire family.

For this photo, I positioned the camera under my hands so I could hold her foot and take the shot. It describes how I feel and my responsibility as a father. Of course she’s her own individual and she’s going to grow up to make her own decisions, but for the first few chapters of her life I’m responsible for how she takes the next step. Her life is in my hands. This precious being, she’s a gift.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Eddie Herena

Eddie Herena is a former staff photographer for San Quentin News, the only prisoner-run newspaper in California. He now works as a freelance photographer. His work has been published in various publications including Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Next City, The Athletic and San Francisco Chronicle.