My neighbor asked me to babysit her daughter and I didn't see her for the next twelve years.
My husband and I couldn't have children, and it was my greatest regret. I loved babies, and the first time I saw Ellen was in the stairway with a newborn baby in her arms.
I started chatting with her, and she told me she had just moved in with her baby, Daisy, and that her husband Victor was in the military and stationed in the Middle East. I liked her, she was sweet. I never imagined who she really was.
Ellen and I became friends as well as neighbors, and she'd often drop Daisy off when she had errands to run. I love that, I loved Daisy. She was the sweetest, most adorable baby.
About a year after I first met Ellen, she came in in the middle of the afternoon looking very upset. She told me she had received a phone call from one of her husband Jed's friends telling her he had been injured.
Ellen told me she needed to go and speak to Jed's old commanding officer who still had a lot of connections in the service and could tell her what was going on. She begged me to look after Daisy, and of course, I agreed.
I first met Ellen when Daisy was a newborn | Source: Unsplash
I fed Daisy, changed her nappy, and put her down for a nap. When she woke up, I did it all again, and before I knew it my husband was home. It was 9:30, and Ellen still wasn't back.
I called her on her phone, but the call went straight to voice mail. I thought maybe she'd had bad news about Jed, so I went over to her apartment and knocked on the door. There was no answer so I went back home.
The next morning, I again phoned Ellen and knocked on her door. I was really worried by now so I called the police and filed a missing person's report. I explained that Ellen had left her daughter in my care and hadn't returned.
She left Daisy with me one afternoon | Source: Unsplash
The police opened Ellen's apartment door and discovered that all her clothes and personal effects were missing, and all that she'd left behind were Daisy's tiny clothes and toys.
I was horrified. Ellen had abandoned her tiny daughter. Daisy was now a year old, old enough to miss her mom and to feel frightened by strangers. So when social services visited, I asked to be considered as a foster parent.
Since my husband is a firefighter, they agreed, and Daisy stayed with us. We learned that Ellen had no husband and that there was no Jed. She was a grifter and had found a way to ditch her baby and move on.
Ellen had taken everything she owned | Source: Unsplash
Three years later, my husband and I adopted Daisy. She grew up knowing she was adopted, but it didn't seem to worry her at all. She is the apple of my husband's eye, and I admit I spoil her more than a little.
Love and not biology is what makes a family.
As she grew, I stopped worrying that Ellen would show up one day, and by the time Daisy was 10, I had almost forgotten she had once had a mother. But I was in for a shock.
Three months after Daisy's 12th birthday there was a knock on the door. I opened it and found myself face to face with Ellen. She looked older and heavier, a far cry from the slim woman I'd once known.
My husband and I became Daisy's foster parents | Source: Unsplash
"Fran," she said with a wide smile. "Hi! I've come to pick up Daisy." I couldn't believe it. She sounded as if she'd just dropped off her daughter two hours ago, not eleven years.
I stared at her and I think my mouth dropped open. "Excuse me?" I gasped. "You WHAT?"
She squared her shoulders and looked belligerent. "My daughter, my Daisy. Where is she?"
"Daisy is at school. And she's no longer your daughter. We adopted her seven years ago."
We adopted Daisy | Source: Unsplash
"WHAT?" Ellen screamed. "You stole my baby?"
"You abandoned your baby, Ellen, so the court terminated your parental rights and we adopted her. It was all quite legal, I assure you."
"This isn't over," Ellen screeched. "I want my baby!"
At that moment, Daisy stepped out of the elevator and saw Ellen standing at our door. She walked over with her school bag slung over her shoulder, and her socks slipping down, and I was petrified of losing her.
Ellen wanted her daughter back | Source: Unsplash
Ellen saw me looking over her shoulder and spun around. "My baby!" she screamed, stretching out her arms to Daisy, tears instantly cascading down her cheeks. "It's me! Your mama..."
My Daisy gave her a cool going-over and made up her mind immediately. "I'm sorry, lady," she said. "You must have me confused with some other kid."
"Oh my baby," Ellen sobbed, "I left you with these people and they stole you from me! I've been looking for you for 10 years..."
Daisy sniffed the same sniff that usually irritated me no end. "Well you can't have been looking very hard. My parents have been living here for 20 years."
"You're not my mother." | Source: Unsplash
Ellen hesitated and barreled on. "They took you from me, but now I'm back. Come to mama..."
Daisy just stared at her. "Lady, take a pill," she said. "You're not my mother." She stepped forward and put her arm around me. "THIS is my mother, so get lost!"
"I'm going to the police!" Ellen cried, "I have rights, you hear? RIGHTS!"
Daisy shrugged and rolled her eyes. "Whatever!" she said and turned to me. "Hey mom, how about a snack? I'm starving!"
We walked in and I slammed the door in Ellen's face. We never saw her again, and good riddance to bad rubbish as Daisy would say.
What can we learn from this story?
1. Love and not biology is what makes a family.
2. You can't walk back into people's lives and expect to be welcomed after you've abandoned them.
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