The girl was pretty. Even she could admit that. The girl had been in and out of twenty-four foster homes before the woman welcomed her into her house as her daughter.
She should have seen the signs when they first manifested. She shouldn’t have been so blind.
Watching as the camera footage played, all she could do was blame herself.
A Happy Occasion
But for Amanda Johnson, this was supposed to be a happy occasion. After years of wishing to have children, she was finally a mom.
She’d thought this life-altering experience would bring joy to her home. But her husband, Mark, had been against the venture, saying that adopting a teen would be nothing but trouble.
But his sentiments changed when he saw the girl Amanda hoped to bring into their home.
Amanda was not a stranger to welcoming people into her home. Aged forty-seven, she and Mark had been foster parents for the last ten years.
They had welcomed several kids into their fold, both as long-time foster parents and as part of respite programs for foster families that needed some time to regroup while watching over their foster kids.
Amanda never knew where this journey would take her.
Meeting Kristy felt like one of those instances that are usually written in the stars.
Amanda had not thought about adopting her when they first met.
She’d not even considered agreeing to the social worker’s request when she first received the call. Even her husband had been against it. But something inside her kept pushing her to say, “Yes.”
Kristy’s foster family had been looking to spend some time up-country. They needed a few days to take a breather and, as such, contacted their social worker.
The woman, Elsie, who had been Amanda’s long-time friend, contacted her immediately.
“I have a favor I need to ask of you,” she said. Amanda had no idea it would change her life forever.
A Snowy Evening
It was a snowy Friday evening in the heart of November when the call came.
The frozen Wyoming winds were blowing over Amanda’s town. She’d been caring for six foster kids at the time, each under five.
She didn’t know whether she could accept another addition, especially with the bad weather and how much she already had on her plate. But her friend wouldn’t let up.
No One Else To Call
“I don’t have anyone else to call,” Elsie, the social worker, pleaded. She hadn’t explained that the child she wanted Amanda to watch over was a teenager.
She informed her that the respite period only covered the weekend and not a single day more.
Knowing that her friend wouldn’t come to her like this without a good reason, Amanda agreed.
Talking To Mark
It was then that Elsie explained that the foster child was seventeen years old. But she assured Amanda that the girl was well-behaved and responsible.
Amanda talked to her husband about the situation. Mark had an issue with the proposal at first.
He told her that even if the girl was staying for the weekend, she was still a teenager. To him, that in itself spelled trouble.
It took a considerable amount of time for Amanda to wear him down. She reminded him why they had decided to become foster parents in the first place.
Walking him down memory lane had her tearing up.
With one hand reaching for her stomach, she reminded him of the vow they’d made when they got married. There was no way he’d say no to her.
A Walk Down Memory Lane
When Amanda and Mark started going out, they learned they couldn’t have kids biologically. They’d always dreamt of being parents, each coming from a large family.
Amanda had been heartbroken when the doctor shared the news.
Her womb couldn’t sustain life, meaning she lacked the means to get pregnant, let alone carry an infant for nine months. But that wasn’t the worst part.
The Root Of The Issue
Her fallopian tubes, which usually connect the ovaries to the womb, supplying the needed ovum or egg to be fertilized during conception, were severely under stress.
No egg could traverse this damaged space.
Each died as soon as it left the ovary – a heartbreaking discovery that left Amanda more than broken. It was then that Mark stepped up with a solution.
“How about we adopt?” he asked, and for a long time, that was the plan. The two went from foster home to foster home, from one adoption agency to the next.
But with each time they spent in these spaces, it became clear that adoption wasn’t the way to go.
Amanda was exposed to the horrors of children being left by parents or orphaned. If she could, she would have adopted all of them.
How Will They Do It?
But she and Mark weren’t by any means wealthy. How would they take care of all these kids comfortably? Knowing they couldn’t adopt many kids, Amanda decided to try being foster parents.
Being a foster parent would ensure she and Mark helped as many kids as possible.
They would ensure they helped all the needy children, ensuring they never lacked anything in life. But Amanda had no idea where all this would take her.
A Decade Of Foster Parenting
For ten years, she and Mark took care of a total of fifteen children. Her last batch, the six under five, were the most demanding she’d cared for to date.
She loved them like they were her own babies and wouldn’t trade them for anything.
But she couldn’t deny that watching over six kids was a hassle. So why did she accept taking on a seventh?
She Can Never Say No
Amanda would never say no to a child in need. Even if she had a hundred, she’d still accept them into her house.
The fact that the girl coming over was a teenager made her feel hopeful.
She hoped the girl wouldn’t give her any issues during the weekend. But before she could have Elsie bring her, she needed to convince Mark.
The Girl’s Information
Mark was reluctant at first. But his view changed immediately after Elsie emailed the girl’s information.
The file included the girl’s name and background. But most importantly, it had a few photos.
Mark read the background information first. He frowned, informing Amanda that the girl in question had been to more than fifteen foster homes. He would soon change his mind.
He Says “Yes!”
Mark continued reading the information, his brows furrowing by the second. He seemed interested in finding out if the girl had any run-ins with the law.
Seemingly satisfied with what he’d found, he asked Amanda to pull up the girl’s images—sitting upright.
The first photo had yet to fully load before he nodded. “Yes,” he said. “She can come over.”
She Should Have Been Vigilant
Mark’s reaction to Kristy’s photo should have been Amanda’s first sign that something odd was happening.
She should have focused on the fact that her husband didn’t want the teenager in their home before seeing her photo.
He’d quickly agreed that Kristy could come after seeing what she looked like. He even suggested he goes to the store, in the pouring snow, to bring a few snacks for Kristy. What was he trying to do?
But her mind was elsewhere entirely. She wanted to make Kristy as comfortable as possible and ran up and down the rooms trying to make a bed for the girl.
She cooked her favorite dish and got the other kids ready to meet the guest.
While she was taking care of all these things, Mark left for the store. He returned an hour later with heavy shopping bags and a look of anticipation for the night. Did he know something Amanda didn’t know?
Quarter Past Nine
The doorbell rang a quarter past 9 pm. Amanda rushed to answer it, but Mark beat her to it. He welcomed the guests with a bright smile, offering to take their jackets.
Kristy looked around with curious eyes. She had dark hair cut just above her shoulders, with dark mascara and lipstick to match.
Looking at her reminded Amanda of one of those metal rock lovers. But this isn’t the only thing she noted in the room.
Do They Know Each Other?
Amanda realized that Kristy and Mark were giving each other knowing looks. She wondered if they’d met before. Her husband was a lecturer in the local college and had hundreds of students pass by his hands every year.
Was Kristy one of them? It seemed likely. Well, it was the only logical answer Amanda could come up with at the spot.
But now wasn’t the time to let her mind wander. She put her thoughts aside and welcomed Kristy and Elsie into her home.
They Shake Hands
Amanda introduced herself, Mark, and the six kids under their care. On the other hand, Elsie introduced Kristy. But the girl hurried to shake Mark’s hand first.
“You guys know each other, huh?” Elsie asked, and Mark nodded.
“She’s in my philosophy class, believe it or not. One of my best students.” Although he was nonchalant, Amanda could tell he was hiding something.
A Good Weekend
Kristy spent the weekend at Amanda and Mark’s. She was delightful to be around, always eager to help Amanda with the chores and watch over the kids.
She even initiated a few conversations with Mark about philosophy, showing just how well she understood the concepts in his class.
Amanda should have known that something else was happening behind the scenes.
Falling In Love With Her
By the end of the weekend, Amanda had fallen in love with Kristy.
In the course of the next six months, she’d have her over, even if it was just a day’s visit. She hadn’t considered adopting her, seeing Kristy was a year away from becoming an adult.
But Mark put the idea in her mind one night, asking if Amanda would be opposed to adopting the seventeen-year-old girl.
The Adoption Process
Amanda loved the idea and, after discussing it with Elsie, started the adoption process.
She’d seen how much Kristy had merged into her family. Everyone loved her, from her foster kids to Mark.
She’d visit every weekend to help in the house, play with the kids, or discuss academics with Mark. The adoption process was successful, but soon, everything changed.
A Different Turn
By now, Kristy had been coming to Amanda’s home for eighteen months. She’d been a delight throughout this time.
But the moment Amanda welcomed her into the house as her daughter, things took a different turn.
Kristy suddenly became withdrawn and wouldn’t talk to anybody. She stayed in her room most of the time, sulking whenever Amanda went in to speak to her. What was happening?
She’s Only Happy When He’s Around
What was more interesting was that she’d only laugh or talk whenever Mark interacted with her. In the year and a half Amanda had known Kristy, she’d never seen her sulk or keep to herself.
Her worry reached a fever pitch one afternoon when she came home earlier than usual.
She saw Mark’s car in the driveway where it had been when she left in the morning. She thought he’d go to work after her, but he didn’t. The door to the house was unlocked, so she hurried in, not knowing what she was about to uncover.
The Voices And Giggles
Amanda first heard a girl giggling and talking in a hushed tone. She recognized Kristy’s voice and wondered if the girl was finally returning to her old self.
She was about to sigh in relief when she heard her husband’s voice follow the girl’s.
Amanda didn’t know what to think. The voices were coming from Kristy’s room. She thought about announcing that she was home or running to open the door. Instead, she did something else.
The Ring App
Amanda opened the Ring app on her phone and sat down, ready to uncover what was happening. The footage started playing, and the mom watched with her brows drawn close. Mark was seated on the edge of Kristy’s bed, with Kristy lying in her covers, smiling. Mark was saying something, moving his hands about.
Amanda increased the volume, finally hearing what her husband was saying. He started by telling Kristy she was right where she needed to be.
He told her that all the times her numerous foster parents had cut ties with her carried a deeper meaning. It had all been leading her to where she was now. But that was only the beginning.
He spoke about how he and Amanda were finally lucky to have a daughter in her. He explained how, for years, they’d craved to be parents. It was then that Amanda learned the real reason for Kristy’s abrupt change in behavior.
The girl had felt like Mark and Amanda were only building her hopes only to abandon her like the other families had done. Amanda sat in tears as she watched Mark handle the situation. He expertly trod the line between being sensitive and lighthearted, ensuring Kristy didn’t feel awkward opening up to him like this.
He told her the last thing he and Amanda would ever do was let her go. But even though there was truth in his words, Amanda couldn’t help but feel he was still hiding something.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.