THE MORNING PAPER
by Sharlene Leker
Today is no different than most days. I have my routine, and it rarely waivers. I wake up early, read the newspaper, and drink my coffee before the day’s activities begin. Soon other things will demand my attention. I will have to make breakfast, pack lunches, and drive the kids to school. But this early morning hour is my time, and I relish every solitary moment.
I punched the garage door opener and waited for the door to rise just enough for me to duck under, walk out to the driveway, and retrieve my paper. The sun had yet to make its full appearance above the horizon, but the orange glow, reflected off the scattered clouds, provided just enough light to see my newspaper at the end of the driveway and keep me from stumbling in the dark. Today, I was surprised to see not only my newspaper, but the silhouette of a large object sitting next to it. “What is that?” I silently questioned. . .I moved closer.
Suddenly, I recognized the object. This can’t be real! Is this some kind of a joke? A cruel prank? I stopped and scanned the neighborhood hoping to see who might be responsible for this package. But it was still too dark to notice any distant movement. A creepy sensation washed over me as I envisioned someone lurking in the bushes…watching.
I quickened my steps and approached the object. There it was, next to my morning paper—a baby. A BABY! Surely this is a dream! I abandoned the newspaper, grabbed the car seat and its contents, and quickly ran back through the garage and into the house. I set the car seat on the kitchen counter and pulled back the baby’s blanket. He was wearing a blue onesie embroidered with tiny green dinosaurs, so I assumed he was a boy. “Hey, little Mister,” I said as I reached for his hands. “How are you doing?” He immediately wrapped his tiny fingers around mine. There were two disposable diapers, a full bottle of formula, and an extra change of clothes neatly tucked beside him.
I wiggled his hands, made silly faces, and spoke a foreign language in high pitched tones only babies understand. Onlookers would think me a fool, but he just smiled. I pulled my hands from his and removed his extra supplies.
The bottle was wrapped with a handwritten note secured by a rubber band. The baby began to fuss so I picked him up, patted him on the back, and gently bounced him in my arms. I managed to detach the rubber band from the bottle with one hand, unfold the paper, and began reading:
I’ve been watching you. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a stalker. Let’s just say . . . I’ve been paying attention. You live in a nice neighborhood, a nice house, and drive a nice car. I’ve seen how you play with your own children—tossing the baseball back and forth, drawing on the sidewalk with chalk, and playing hopscotch. Once, I watched while you were watering your flowers. Your children tip-toed around the house, water balloons in hand, and nailed you from behind. You didn’t get mad. You just turned, sprayed them with the water hose while they ran in circles, screaming in delight. Yes, I’ve been watching . . . and I pick you!
I don’t expect you to understand how I can do this. I love my baby. He’s the joy of my life. It breaks my heart to give him up, but circumstances have caused me to realize I can no longer care for him. Please accept this precious gift. All I ask in return is that you give him the family he deserves, and love him like one of your own. By the way, his name is Jackson. I call him, Jack.
I changed his diaper, walked into the living room, and sat down in my rocking chair. I had spent countless hours rocking my two children to sleep in this same rocker. Now I'm rocking Jack. He stared into my eyes as I fed him his bottle and sang, You are my sunshine. He drank half the formula before his eyes began to droop. Soon his tummy was full, and he was fast asleep.
My husband, Ryan, shuffled out of the bedroom and into the kitchen. I remained silent while he poured himself a cup of coffee. “Honey? Where’s the paper?” He asked.
“In here,” I whispered.
Still sleepy-eyed and yawning, he came into the living room.
“Why are you reading the paper in the living room? You usually read it in the kitchen.” He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw me sitting in the chair, rocking a baby. His eyes grew large and his mouth gaped open. He nearly dropped his cup of coffee.
“I. . .a. . .is that a baby?” He stammered. “Where’d you get it? Are you babysitting?”
“SHHHHH!” I whisper yelled. “You’ll wake him.”
“And . . . if you haven’t noticed, he’s not an “it”. His name is Jack.”
Ryan took a seat on the couch and stared at Jack while I replayed the entire morning’s scenario.
“Have you called the police?” He asked.
“Not yet. I know I need to . . . but not yet. He’s sleeping.”
I handed him the note and watched as he read. I watched as the note slipped from his fingers and floated to the floor. He looked up at me with tear-filled eyes.
We kept Jack the entire day before I called the police the following morning. Ryan made a quick trip to the store for more diapers and baby formula. My own children were ecstatic with the idea of having a little brother.
“Can we keep him?” They pleaded.
“This isn’t a puppy.” I explained. “We can’t just keep him.”
“Why not?” They questioned.
The following morning I called the police and explained the event of the previous day. Three hours later, two police officers entered my home with a social worker in tow. I
informed them that Jack wasn’t going anywhere. We’ve decided to make him a part of our family.
The following day, we moved forward with the adoption process.
Years seemed to pass quickly since the day Jack came into our lives. He’s no longer the baby in a car seat or the toddler learning to walk. He’s now a big third grader.
The special day to honor Mothers was coming up and Jack informed me he had made something special. Barely able to contain his excitement, he reached into his backpack, pulled out a folded piece of red construction paper, and presented it to me.
It was a Mother’s Day card. Pasted on the front were cut-outs vaguely resembling the shape of hearts with, “To Mom” written in his best third grade penmanship.
I could already feel my eyes fill with tears. I opened the card and in his own scribble, I read his heartfelt message:
“Thank you for adopting me. And because you kept me, I’m not just a boy, I’m somebody’s son.”