Jane asked Anthony, the 10-year-old boy whom she had visited several times over the past few months at the local group home, “Would you like me to adopt you?” No one wanted kids his age, so the directors and staff had encouraged this bond.
Fortunately, Anthony seemed to like her over any other adult. He laughed at the silly jokes she tried to make when she came over. They played hide and seek in the backyard, and the kid confessed to some other workers that it was nice to have so much attention.
Jane decided to start the process of adoption, which was a bit more complicated than expected and involved a visit to her house from a social worker and responding to personal questions. Since she wasn’t married, that was hard to answer.
The truth is that she wanted a traditional family and would have been happy as a stay-at-home mom. But Jane had terrible luck with men. None of the ones she dated wanted anything serious, and eventually, they left her. Finally, she decided to take her future into her own hands, and in the 21st century, women didn’t need men to become mothers.
At first, Jane considered using a sperm donor and getting pregnant, but she drove by the group home one day and saw all kinds of kids. Curiously, she entered and asked questions timidly. She approached a few kids and had meetings with the director. Nothing seemed to click until she had Anthony and wondered why he was older than the other kids. “Oh yeah,” the director, Mrs. Fields, nodded. “At the time, we took him off the streets recently, and he’s resisting being placed in a foster home, so we kept him here. He plays with the little ones and loves our small library, but I can tell he’s lonely. He’s often in the yard looking out as if waiting for someone to rescue him.”
Jane’s heart broke, and she asked for permission to approach him. The connection was almost immediate for her. By the end of that day, she asked Mrs. Fields about adopting him, and they started discussing the lengthy process. It also would be better to give Anthony some time. Still, she tried her best to convey her commitment to being Anthony’s mother and raising him with all the love in the world.
So, the group home approved the adoption, and after all those months of paperwork and bonding with the child, it was finally time. When Anthony nodded his head at her, Jane felt almost lightheaded with relief. The moisture was already gathering in her eyes when she stood and opened her arms. “Can I hug you?” she asked. Anthony hesitated for a second, but he opened his arms too and nodded. They embraced for the first time.
But then one of the staff took Anthony to pack his few things. Jane was patiently waiting when a thought popped into her head. “There’s no information or updates about any relatives, right?” “No, Ms. Kerrigan,” Mrs. Fields shook her head. “Nothing’s changed since we first talked about Anthony. I thought perhaps someone would appear, but no one did. I don’t normally say this because I like to remain professional, but I’m so glad to see that kid get adopted. We don’t get many wins around here.” Jane’s eyes watered again, but she contained her feelings.
“I promised I wouldn’t cry today,” she laughed, wiping her lids. “At least, as happy tears. The older woman joined her. ‘Merry met the best kind, and I can’t wait to show you the books I bought. I know you like Harry Potter, and I got you the final three books so you can see what happens next. It’s so exciting!”
Jane commented happily on the car ride home. Anthony looked out the window, not saying much, but she didn’t mind. It was a new experience, so she would give him time to adapt. She prattled on about other books and movies they would see until they arrived home. “This is your room,” she announced once they were inside.
“I know it’s bland, but I didn’t want to pick out anything you didn’t like. So tomorrow, we’re going shopping. We’re picking out some clothes, bed sheets, and maybe some paint to redecorate.” “That sounds good, Miss Kerrigan,” Anthony said, grinning slightly. “Oh, well, we have to talk about that.
I don’t want to rush you into calling me Mom, but we need to come up with another name. I don’t want to be ‘Miss Kerrigan’ to you forever. So how about Jane?” Jane suggested. Anthony stuttered a bit and smiled more brightly. “That’s great!”Jane said, and Anthony’s smile widened. “So, you can unpack while I make us some lunch. I’m an excellent cook.”
They had a great pasta dinner that night, one that Anthony devoured as he had never eaten something so delicious before. To her surprise, he talked more than ever. It was mainly about the books he had found in his room, but Jane was pleased.
“On Monday, we’ll sign you up for school,” she said. “It’ll be different than your classes at the group home, but you’ll do great. You already read more than any kid your age.”
“Okay,” he responded, excited but nervous.
Later that night, Jane sat with him and began reading the next Harry Potter book until Anthony fell asleep. She kissed him good night and went to her room, falling asleep with a smile, knowing that tomorrow would be a fantastic day now that she was officially a mother.
Jane woke up unexpectedly. She was a light sleeper, and the usual morning quiet encouraged her to sleep a little more on Saturdays. But there was apparent noise. “It must be the television,” she thought. So she rose from her bed, excitedly planning a pancake breakfast for Anthony. As she placed the slippers on her feet, the noise grew a bit louder. Then, she heard a distinct voice.
Bulging eyes, Jane realized that Anthony was not alone. Her instinct was to take a bat and go out swinging at any threat to her son, but the urge disappeared after putting her ear to her closed door. Anthony was having a conversation with someone, and as she speculated due to the similarities of the different voices answering each other, she couldn’t tell.
Finally, Jane opened her door and rushed to his room. But her body stopped as soon as she barged inside. Her eyes blinked, knowing something was wrong with the scene she had witnessed.
Anthony was sitting on his bed while two other boys stood in the middle of his room. The problem was that they were identical to her son. Suddenly, both boys rushed to climb out the window until they heard Jane say firmly, “Stop right there,” raising one finger.
The boys stopped and turned around, looking down at the floor while linking their hands together. “Jane, I’m sorry, please don’t get us in trouble,” one of the boys said.
“What? Honey, no, I’m not going to get anyone into trouble,” Jane replied, clearing her head. “But I want to know what’s going on. Who are they?”
“My brothers,” he said, shrugging.
“Yeah, who else could they be?” Jane thought, quirking her mouth. “And why weren’t they at the group home? Why didn’t Miss Fields know about them?”
“Because we didn’t want anyone to find out about us three,” one of the boys answered.
“Okay, tell me your names,” Jane demanded, looking at the two extra kids in her house.
“I’m Mark. I’m Justin,” the other replied.
“Now, Anthony, tell me the entire story.”
“Well, it’s a long story,” he hesitated, looking at his siblings.
Jane told the boys to sit at the kitchen table while she worked on breakfast, which would now double in size. The boys began their tale.
Their parents died when they were five, and since they had no other relatives, they were all taken by CPS to different foster homes. They escaped to be together but were caught. So they left town. They began living and begging on the streets and had been getting by for a while until a cop found Anthony and took him to a group home. He resisted, wanting to be with his brothers.
“I didn’t tell anyone about them because I didn’t want to be forced into other homes again. Maybe you guys would have lived in the group home together,” Jane commented while whisking pancake mix. “It’s better than the streets.”
“No, those places are terrible,” Mark replied.
“Not really,” Anthony said. “Everyone was good to me.”
“We wanted to rescue our brother, but they had too many eyes, so we hid in the bushes and communicated when he came out in the yard,” Justin continued.
They explained how they saw Anthony playing with Jane months later. They followed as best as they could and finally found him.
“We planned to leave quickly, but…” Mark added, looking at his brother. “I didn’t want to leave,” Anthony confessed.
“So, you don’t want to be brothers anymore?” Jane asked, looking down sadly.
“We’ll always be brothers, but I don’t want to live on the streets anymore. I want a home again. I can’t even remember our parents,” Anthony said, choking up.
“Me neither,” Justin’s lips trembled.
“We’re stronger together,” Mark told his brothers, but he was crying too.
Jane put down her bowl and got close to the kids, leaning to see them eye to eye. “You don’t have to be on the streets anymore, and you don’t have to be separated anymore.”
She didn’t have time to think about her next move or choice. It didn’t even feel like there was much of a decision to make. She had adopted Anthony, and if he came with siblings, so be it.
“You can stay here. I’ll talk to Mrs. Fields, sort all this out,” she promised.
“Okay, all three of us?” Justin looked up.
“Yes, all of you,” she vowed, looking at Justin and Mark. Finally, her eyes went to Anthony. “Is that all right with you?”
“Yes,” the boy said, nodding quickly and closing his eyes as the tears surfaced.
Jane’s lips started shaking too as she brought Anthony closer for a hug, but one arm extended, inviting the other boys in first. They side-eyed each other but rushed into her arms quickly afterward.
“Are you sure you’re ready for this commitment?” Mrs. Fields asked her after Jane called her. The older woman came to visit with a social worker and was shocked by the story.
“If I’m allowed to do it, I will,” Jane repeated her intentions. “I love Anthony, and those are his brothers. I can’t separate them. I’m their mom now.”
Mrs. Fields nodded while grabbing her hand. “You’re a gift from God, Jane.”
“No, they are,” her voice breaking as her fingers tightened on Mrs. Field’s hand.
It didn’t take long for Justin and Mark to call her mom, and she was sure no one in the world loved that title more than her.