Motherhood is a blindfolded backwards roller-coaster ride. It is filled with free falling drops and gut crushing pressure, and ends with a big portion of sweet addicting unconditional love that makes you say, “Yes! Let’s go for another ride!”
It was a sunny day in my hometown Tampa, when my brother’s seventeen-year-old girlfriend stopped by. “Can you step outside for a minute; I need to talk to you,” she said. While I closed the door behind me, I could not help but wonder what my brother had done. At first, she did not say anything; we just walked up the sidewalk. I glanced her way and noticed she was crying. I wanted to assure her that things are never as bad as they seem, but I did not know what was wrong. We were not friends, barely acquaintances; therefore, I did not want to pressure her to speak. To my relief, she stopped and faced me. Her eyes were blood shot red, and her behavior created a sense of urgency. I was quickly snatched from my thoughts when she blurted out, “Liz, I am pregnant with your brother’s child!”
I remember silence, absolute silence, and I could feel her eyes scanning me for a sign that would reveal my inner thoughts. I thank God she could not read my mind because nothing was there. It was as if my brain had packed up and stormed out slamming the door behind it leaving an eerie echo to ricochet throughout its vacant cavity. All of a sudden I could feel a rush of emotions bombarding my mind; unfortunately, they all demanded total control of my mouth. My first outward reaction sounded something like, “How could… what are… when!” By this time my emotions had wrestled my brains back in; I paused holding one finger up while I tried to regain my composure.
When my thoughts were coasting at a safe pace, I looked at the young girl standing in front of me with her head drooped in shame. The best thing for me to do right now was to encourage her, after all, “What’s done is done.” So I replied, “Everything will be okay…” but before I could complete my statement, she mumbled something. I responded; “What was that honey, I did not hear you?” A face full of shame and resolve gazed up at me and calmly stated, “I have a 3:30 p.m. abortion appointment today.” I don’t know what expression promenaded across my face; but it sent her head jerking back down as her shoulders slumped over. My reaction was all reflex and unrestrained; I was mortified and livid. This time I backed away with my pointy finger held up; I needed space in addition to that moment to compose myself.
I prayed and then I cried for the soul that was about to be catastrophically sucked out of this earthly realm because his/her timing was inconvenient – as if they had any say so in the matter. I felt my rage building and started praying again; I was somehow prompted to look at the determined young lady once more. Compassion completely filled my vessel and the Lord put it on my heart to offer to adopt the baby. My brain pulled up its britches (indicating it wears the pants in this body,) and knocked on my heart as if to say, “Hello in there, a child is a big responsibility and you agreed we would never have one.” However, my heart proved it had the bigger muscle, and before I knew it; I was asking to adopt my niece/nephew under certain conditions. First, she must give motherhood a try (I was pretty sure she would bond with her child.) Secondly, if she could not or would not fulfill her motherly duties, our roles switched: I would have all the motherly duties and authority via adoption, but she must be apart of the child’s life. Although she would have the “aunt” duties and authority, the child must know she is the mother, and I am her aunt that adopted her.
To my surprise, the young lady appeared a hundred times better. She no longer looked distraught, but as she spoke her next words uneasiness settled over me. I felt as if I was being deceived. She quickly responded, “Could you just raise her till she’s seven instead?” This immature adolescent had staged this whole scene! Could she be this conniving? She acted as if we were talking about a pet cat or dog. I quickly exclaimed, “I could never put my love, life, time, and funds into raising a child only to have him/her packed up and shipped out from under my wings right when I have formed a solid bond.” I told her this was a big decision, and she needed to think about it. To my amazement, the now radiant young lady only needed seconds to agree to my previous terms.
About six months later a healthy brown-eyed baby girl was born. The first few moments of her life were almost her last. The nurse brought the baby in so her mother could hold her, but the mother never grabbed her. She just let her slip further away slowly slipping to the edge of the bed to meet the surface of the floor. Thankfully, the young girl’s mother was in the room to catch the baby. I took the new mother and her beautiful baby girl into my home after that fiasco. Besides, none of the new mom’s family members or friends would allow her to live with them. Once the young lady got comfortable, I knew she had to go. My house is the Lord’s and her lifestyle was not acceptable. Terms were agreed upon prior to her move, and before the end of the week, most of them were broken. My family took good care of our baby girl and worked hard to help get her mother situated in a section eight apartment. Even when she moved out, we took care of the baby over 80% of the time.
One day my mother went to pick the baby up, and was told by her mother, “Keep her! Don’t bring her back or I will hurt her!” I gave the mother a chance to calm down, and called her the next day. She said she just could not do it and she did not want to give up her lifestyle. I explained that I would start the adoption process and reminded her of our initial agreement. She said, “Great,” and I hardly heard from her again. There was a time when her and my brother got back together and wanted to be a family, but that did not last two months. Time slipped away from me, and I was still on step one of the adoption process. I always received some obscure excuse as to why she did not meet with her caseworker yet. The mother stayed out of sight most of the time, showing up occasionally; she would give the baby a hug and kiss before dashing out the door again.
My baby girl was born on leap day and the family planned many different events to celebrate her first real birthday party (at the age of four.) Apparently, her mother’s family had made plans and decided to give her a birthday bash as well. On that day, I decided to go see the new movie, “The Passion of Christ” with my mother and sisters. We had arranged for my dad, who was sick, to watch the baby until we got back since she would be dropped off at the house prior to the movie ending.
“Liz, call that girl and her mother right now.” It was the sound of my dad’s voice echoing through a low-battery telephone. We had just walked out of the theatre and our emotions were still fluttering from the riveting performance by the cast. My dad continued to explain that the mother and grandmother of our baby said they were leaving to drop off the baby, they never showed up. Forty-five minutes later they called back, still from home, and said they would be leaving soon. By then my dad was frustrated. He was sick and irritated by their irrational behavior; he replied with a pessimistic, “Okay – I’ll see you soon.” Thirty minutes later they called him back, again – from the house. They asked if the baby could spend the night. My dad explained that he would not know about that and suggested she speak with the person who made the arrangements. I thanked my dad for his help, told him to go ahead and take some medicine, because we would pick up the baby before we came home.
As we approached the grandmother’s home I noticed far more adults then children and wondered what was going on. I got out of the car, and was immediately under silent scrutiny by every individual present. I did not like it one bit. The elders were on the porch; I spoke and asked for my baby girl by name. Her grandmother surfaced and said her daughter wanted to talk to me. The young lady came out with an arrogant boldness that infuriated me. There was no respect; she just briefly stated how her baby would be living with her now. The others chimed in that none of this would have happened if I would have just let her spend the night. I stood dumfounded. I remember thinking, did she just say she’s going to take my baby.
I cannot recall what else was said but my mother and I called the cops. This young girl who had just been released from a psyche ward for another suicide attempt was taking my baby. We had received custody by a child caseworker and apparently, we had “agreed” to keep the baby until the mother got back on her feet. How could this lie have been successful is beyond me. The cops would not let us keep the baby unless we had a judge’s signature signing our baby over to us as the caregivers. The police officer had to call the mother out several times before she came. Her family was trying to sober her up. How could this have happened? Her family sat within that fence staring at us with mounting malice. They were under the impression that we were trying to steal the baby from her mother. No one seemed to be aware of the agreement I had with the mother.
Everything she had done I brought up to prove she was an unfit mother. They said, “Well miss, if she was “high” now I could help, and the fact that she was released from the psyche incident only means she has recovered. No one in the family seems to know of this alleged agreement, but they all say you have agreed to keep the baby until this young lady got back on her feet.” He continued his rebuttal but I spaced out at that point. My heart, mind and soul gave way to temporary sanity and fastened its seatbelt on an “Out of Order” roller-coaster ride that went plummeting down a spiral vortex of unbelief and anguish. Once more, the only thing that seemed to work was my emotions; however, this time they just cried and lit a boiling flame of hatred within my being.
My mother and I went to our house; without our little baby girl it was no longer a home. I cried myself to sleep that night and many nights after that; it was the only consoling action I could produce. God worked on my hatred issue one day at a time and I found myself pitying that young child that stole my baby. No one could believe what had happened. We called our pastor and asked him to pray. He said not to worry about it, God would take care of her and we would too.
We received a call about two months later from my brother, the baby’s dad. He said he was coming by to visit. When he showed up my mother ran to the door, and she was rewarded with the biggest hug from our big brown-eyed little angel. I called to my mother to see who was at the door. There was no response. I turned around to see for myself, and there she was, my baby! She looked taller now and as beautiful as ever. With her mildly plumb arms opened wide, her long black lashes fluttered as she proclaimed, “Auntie Liz!” I could take no more, I bent down and filled them sweet tender arms as fast as I could. For the rest of the night I do not believe her feet touched the floor. If I was not clutching her my mom, dad, brothers or sisters were; everyone came by to see her. I slept well that night; my house had just been upgraded back to a home.
Today we still lack the proper paper work for our child. We thank God almighty for each and every moment we have with her. Some people say the heartbeat of America is today’s Chevrolet, but the heartbeat of our home is our baby girl with the big brown beautiful eyes. Keep her mother in your prayers; she has had a rough street life that continues to prompt her to take her life. I know God loves her and because of this, I do too. My baby is learning how to deal with being separated from her parents. She still has her moments when she fills me with “why” questions, as expected. She calls my mother and I her “families,” and that, we are.
This is the story about my motherly love for my little niece – I pray someday soon – my child.