Anya made it home around 8:30 after a long day at work. She was glad to have missed the rush hour traffic and construction crews on the highway, but still hated getting out of work late because her boss refused to let her leave on time. This was a regular occurrence for her. Without the highway gridlock, her commute was still over an hour.
A drawback for having a home so far from her work. She worked in the city, but preferred living in the small town she and her brother grew up in.
Her boss, a middle-aged single woman who was overly critical of everything and everyone’s work went through a cycle of which staff member to pick on, on a rotating basis. This week, it was Anya. She didn’t mind all the overtime, and honestly it wasn’t like she was performing manual labor. She sat at her desk, filling out paperwork, as all other assistants did, while her boss held a meeting in her office.
In reality, this was the job she always wanted. Well, it would lead to the job she wanted. Two years, she would make her way into a junior representative spot. Five years, she could have her own client accounts. Ten years? Well, she’d be running this place…so long as she got that degree she worked on at night.
Anya’s brother completely disagreed with her plans, but didn’t give her too much of a hard time about it. Cameron thought she should actually go to college before she got a full time job. Since their parents passed, however, Anya didn’t see any other way to make it. She couldn’t live with herself selling the home her parents left her in their will. It was her grandparents’ home. Cam got the house they grew up in, and Anya inherited this one.
The very house her brother was parked in front of with his cruiser. Normally, he let himself into the house, but tonight, he was leaning against the door.
As she parked in the driveway, she noticed he had two car seats in the back. One with an infant, couldn’t be more than a week old at most, and another baby, maybe around 12 months, she guessed, since she had practically no experience with kids, even though her brother seemed to be going for his own baseball team with his wife. Both babies were asleep in the back of his patrol car and looked dirty.
“What’s going on?” She turned to her brother with a confused look. She knows he helps Childrens’ Services regularly with cases where children needed to be removed from dangerous homes, or if they were abandoned or stolen. He never brought them over to her house before. Why was tonight so different?
“Before you ask, I need you to know that I wouldn’t be doing this if I had anyone else to help out.”
“What do you mean? What’s going on?”
“Children’s Services has been searching all day for someone to take in these two boys and no one has the capacity for two babies right now.”
“And I do?” She wondered if it was possible for eyes to actually pop out of their sockets.
Cam never begged. He was the alpha male all around. As her older brother, he was also the one to tell Anya what to do…her entire life. This time, however, she saw the pleading in his eyes. “You have two extra rooms and it would only be for a couple of days. We are working with a couple of neighboring counties to see if anyone can take on two babies. Normally people jump to take in babies, especially unclaimed ones, hoping to adopt them. It’s unfortunate but that’s how it is.”
“I don’t even have baby stuff or cribs or anything! Don’t you have to get licensed for something like this? I don’t even think I qualify, even for an emergency basis like this. I don’t even know what to do with one baby, let alone two.”
“You would only do this for a couple of days, we should have somebody hopefully within the next 72 hours. CS can bring you all of the supplies that you’d need and Carissa can come over and show you what you’d need to know. She’s already on her way.”
Carissa. Cam’s wife. Cam’s extremely pregnant wife. She who has already carried Cam’s children and knows everything about babies. For whatever reason, she didn’t want to take these kids in? Maybe they thought they would get attached.
“So you knew I’d just say yes to this? This is a huge deal, Cam. I don’t even know what I can do with work right now.”
“Like I said it’s only a couple of days. They just need to be somewhere other than an old police station with all the drunks and other offenders.”
Anya glanced over at the two sleeping boys in the back. They each had a blanket over them, the blankets looked old and dirty, possibly donated for cases like this. She felt as though she wouldn’t succeed with this if it ended up being long term but if it was only for a couple of days she could probably figure it out.
“Fine,” she groaned, “but you owe me big time for this.”
Cameron stepped up to her giving her a tight hug. “Oh thank you so much. You have no idea what this means to me.”
“Is there anything I need to know about them? Are some crazy drug addicts going to come after me or something?”
“No, we have had these two for two days and no one in the surrounding three states has even filed a missing child report that matches their description.”
“How were they...you know...found?”
“There was an abandoned car on the side of the road. I went to check it out and see if maybe the owner was camping nearby in the woods or something. I didn’t find anyone close by. The car was first spotted there on Sunday. When I got there, I noticed there was nothing identifying the car other than the make and model. Plates were gone, registration gone. There was nothing in it. As I circled it, I heard something in the trunk. Popped it open and found the kids in the back. The older one was in pajamas with a full diaper and the newborn was in a soiled towel.”
Anya couldn’t hold back the tears when hearing this.
“So when I say I know you could do this, it’s because I know you would never treat children like this. You have a good heart and would be able to take care of them even for a couple of days.”
Anya nodded her head, unable to speak. How could someone do this to children? Of course stuff like this happens constantly which is why there are agencies that take in children like this regularly. But hearing it firsthand and seeing the effects, made her decide right then and there that she could try. She could feed and change two babies for a couple of days after what they went through. After going through whatever all they had been through, she could power through it. Hopefully.
“I’ll have to make some calls for work but they will probably just have me work some extra hours next week anyways.”
“You have no idea how much I appreciate this. I would have taken them home myself but we have no room with our own kids and Carissa’s about to have Elianna, so we really have no space at all and are already cramped as it is.”
“I know, I don’t blame you for not being able to take them on with four kids of your own and a fifth on the way.”
Cam exhaled in relief at his little sister’s understanding.
“Besides, if she’s going to help me figure out what to feed them for the next three days and can show me how to change a diaper, I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it.”
“Umm...get them out of the car? Bring them inside where it’s a little bit warmer?”
“Oh! Yeah, definitely. Let’s go.”
Cam grabbed the older boy, while Anya grabbed the infant after Cam unlatched the car seat from its base. Surprised at how light it was, she carefully pulled the seat out of the car and slowly walked to the front door.
“You do realize that you’re not carrying a tray of drinks that are about to spill, right? He’s asleep and the movement won’t wake him up especially after being in the car.”
Anya realized how strange she probably looked and began to question whether or not she had the maternal instincts she figured she was born with. “Well it’s not like I’ve done this before!” She whisper-shouted back at Cam.
Cam chuckled at her hesitation and opened the door to his sister’s house. He made sure to turn on the lights and set the boy he carried down in his seat next to the couch in her front living room.
When Anya finally made it inside, she slowly set the infant down beside who she could only assume was his brother, and exhaled a deep breath she hadn’t realized she was holding.
“Well judging by the similarities in their faces, you’re guessing they’re brothers, right?”
“We assume so. They ran a DNA sample on them to check for anything in the system and will probably get the results tomorrow. I’ll call Dr. Patricia for you in the morning to see if she can fit you in for an initial checkup and test them for any narcotics or alcohol in their systems. They seem to be fine but you never know.”
Anya, still in disbelief at the state these two were discovered, felt her heart breaking with each piece of information her brother gave away to her.
“Do you think their parents will come looking for them at some point?”
“Well, in these cases, we rarely get inquiries about missing children found in the type of condition they were found. My guess is there may have been drugs involved leading to the decisions that were made with these two.” He paused for a moment glancing back and forth between the boys. “Regardless, there are people that help with these types of situations and do give these children good homes despite whatever they went through. Their trauma will haunt them for their entire lives but with the right home they are able to cope with it.”
Anya looked out the front window to see Cam’s wife, Carissa, pulling over outside of her driveway. Anya didn’t notice her kids in the back of their minivan but noticed her sister-in-law opening up the back and pulling out some tote boxes and some packs of diapers.
“I better go help my very pregnant wife bring in whatever hoard of stuff she’s grabbed for you. Let’s just hope she remembered I said two boys and didn’t bring girl clothes.” Anya and Cam chuckled at this because Carissa, as wonderful and kind as she is, always suffered from what Cam called “pregnancy brain” and would forget things constantly. Who could blame her? She’s about to have her fifth child and is also the principal for the local high school. She was more than allowed to forget things here and there.
Anya watched them pull out four totes and what looked like ten packs of diapers and slowly bring them up to the house.
As they brought the stuff up, a white van pulled up. Anya could only assume this was the social worker coming to bring supplies for the babies for the next couple of days.
As she stepped out of the vehicle Anya took notice of her appearance. She was a short, stout, woman with long, curly, red hair. She held a serious look to her face and had frown lines. Likely from all the s**t she had witnessed in her line of work.
Carissa and Cam walked down the driveway to greet her. Apparently they knew each other already, as they all hugged and the woman patted Carissa’s belly. They all turned and started up the driveway to Anya’s front door. She stepped out to greet them and was immediately met with a soft smile and hug from her sister-in-law. “Anya thank you so much for doing this. You are truly amazing and I am going to be here to help you with whatever you need. Please know that.”
“Thanks Carissa,” Anya replied giving her a pat on the back to break the hug.
“Hello, I’m Anya, Cam’s sister,” she looked to the social worker who had an unreadable expression on her face. Anya figures she was probably exhausted from a long day of doing stuff like this. Anya wouldn’t hold it against her.
“Hello Anya, my name is Trina. I am assigned to the boys for now. I have brought you some basics that you may borrow for the time being. Once we have a concurrent home for the children we will be taking the items back to use for future cases.”
Anya nodded, “okay thank you.”
“I do have some paperwork for you to sign and will leave you my card. If anything comes up over the next few days or weeks you can call or text me and I will get back to you. This is one of my higher priority cases at the moment so I promise to get back to you within the hour. Just know I have 38 cases right now and most have multiple children involved so I do have to shuffle things around from time to time.”
“Wait-did you says weeks? I thought this was only for a couple of days,” she questioned looking over at her brother then back at Trina.
“Well that is the plan, but in the event that we do not locate an available family we generally say it could be up to two weeks. Our department has been overloaded in the past year with minors that all of our resource families are at full capacity. We are finding it increasingly difficult to locate homes, especially kinship homes, with the economy as it is and people leaving the area to go live closer to the cities in search of more work.”
“I see. Well I do work in the city but will be talking to my boss about taking a few days. If this goes longer than that I’m sure they will let me work from home for a while.”
Trina nodded to this. “Well then I must ask you. If we are unable to find a home, how long would you be willing to take care of them?”
Anya stared at the woman for a moment thinking about whether or not this could be something she would do for an extended period of time.
“You don’t have to answer me now. We just like to keep our options open. If you do decide, you would have to take the resource parent class and get certified. You’d also need to be prepared for a home inspection among other items.”
“Let’s see how it goes for the next few days and I will think about it.”
“That’s the best news I could have heard tonight.” She turned for the door. “Well let’s not waste any more time. Cam, please help me get the cribs and everything inside so we can put the boys down for the night and we can get the paperwork sorted.”
“Alright. Let’s go.”
Anya stood there and watched her brother and Trina walk to her van and pull out two cribs that were already assembled (Anya was glad to not have to even think about that) along with other items she assumed were for taking care of these kids.
Carissa patted her on the shoulder and said “come on let’s take a look at these handsome little boys.”
Anya hesitantly smiled and walked over with Carissa who was pulling the older boy out of his seat. She picked him up with ease and brought him over to Anya.
“Look at him, he’s so precious. Did they give them names?”
“I’m not sure they didn’t say anything.”
“Hmmm I wonder if you’ll get to pick.”
Anya looked at the boy sleeping in Carissa’s arms. “Could I hold him?”
Carissa giggled, “of course, silly! Here!”
Anya gently took him from Carissa and made her way to the wooden rocking chair in the corner of the living room. The chair had been her grandmother’s that she inherited after she passed. Anya always remembered her grandmother rocking her in that chair when she was a child and now Anya would feel like someone her grandmother would be proud of, rocking a baby the way she did with Anya.
As she sat in the chair rocking this little boy while asleep, his lips were slightly parted and would occasionally close then reopen. He raised his hand and put it against the center of her chest and rested it there while she rocked him. Anya felt a sort of spark when he did it, then an overwhelming feeling of warmth in her body. She couldn’t pinpoint the feeling but was happy, scared, and feeling overly protective of this boy. At that moment she knew she would do anything to keep him safe as long as she would care for him.
“Brandon,” she whispered. When she spoke the name, he smiled while still sleeping. “If I can name him, it should be Brandon.”
She looked up at Carissa who was smiling at the site. “Oh that’s a great name! I’ll tell Trina!”
“Tell me what?”
“Oh, Anya and I were just talking about what she would name them if she got to choose a name.”
“Unfortunately, the department decides the names, but may I ask what you were thinking?”
Anya, keeping her eyes on the boy, “Brandon.”
“Well what a coincidence, I think the department will name him that!” Trina said with excitement. “And what about the infant? Did you think of anything for him?”
Anya looked over at the newborn that Carissa had already unfastened from the car seat.
“I think Toby would be adorable!” She said with excitement.
Trina looked over to Anya. “What do you think Anya? Do you think the department would also agree to this?”
Anya, slowly catching on to Trina’s subtle hints at the naming of these boys, responded with a nervous nod.
“Well then it’s set. Brandon and Toby. As of now they are both John Doe but as this progresses, they will receive names and those will be it. Feel free to call them by those names starting now. Don’t want to confuse them.”
Anya, returning to the real world asked if they needed help bringing the rest of the stuff inside or putting the gear anywhere and Cam insisted she stay right where she was and he would take care of it.
After an hour of getting everything set up in her spare rooms, and continuous rocking of Brandon, Anya was ready to fill out the paperwork and get her night started.
At the kitchen table, Trina set out the paperwork and a pen for Anya. There wasn’t very much, which surprised her.
Half an hour of signing papers and getting information for health insurance and other programs to help support the boys, Trina left to head home for the evening.
Carissa and Cam helped Anya get the boys into their cribs, showed her what to do when they started crying, even showed her how to change their diapers while they remained asleep. Eventually Cam and Carissa left Anya alone after building up her confidence, and she went to bed thinking this wasn’t going to be so hard.
To Anya’s surprise, the boys had slept through the entire ordeal of getting diapers changed and changed into some clothes that Carissa had brought over. She fell into a deep, calm sleep, dreaming about how easy it would be to take care of these two boys.
Until 3:00 AM, that is.
The baby monitor in Toby’s room sounded its first cries, and for the first time since she showed up at home that night, Anya had rushed into his room and was completely unsure of what to do. Toby lay there crying with his eyes closed, so Anya picked him up and held him for a minute. He continued crying for the next few minutes and she couldn’t figure out how to help him.
“Shh…..there, there, let’s see if you’re hungry.” She carried him out to the kitchen and prepared a bottle for him. In the next half hour, he was asleep in her arms while she rocked in her grandmother’s rocking chair. Just as Brandon did earlier, he rested his hand over her heart while he slept. Again, she felt that spark and sudden warmth in her body. Somehow, in this moment, she knew this was going to last a lifetime for her. She didn’t know what the future held, but she knew this was meant to be.
The next morning, she called her boss to let her know the situation, and surprisingly, her boss let her take the next week to get everything together. She called Trina to let her know that she would need to sign up for the class she mentioned and would like to take care of the boys until a permanent plan was set for them.
The next thing for her to do was take the boys to the pediatrician’s office. Overall, the appointment went smooth. They gave her a lot of pamphlets and printouts of everything she needed to know to care for them. They did not seem to have any developmental issues, and looked to be in overall good health.
When Cam called her with an update on the DNA tests, he said they are almost an exact match, meaning they had a 90% chance of sharing DNA from the same parents. The surrounding law enforcement would keep an open case file on the boys and the car that was left.
After six months of nothing, not even a matching description of missing children anywhere, Trina came over to let Anya know the boys would be going up for adoption. Before she could complete her question to Anya, she immediately accepted and applied for adoption. Three months later, Anya, Brandon, Toby, Cam, Carissa, and Trina all met at the courthouse and the judge finalized the adoption.
Though they were still too young to know the difference, so began their new lives, and these boys became her sons in every sense of the word. Anya became their mother.