*17 years ago*
The phone was singing on the nightstand. The soft sound echoing loudly in the quiet room. There was a groan from one of the inhabitants. The phone should be set to do not disturb, who could-
Robin Foster bolted upright in her bed, fumbling for her phone before the song stopped. Only one contact was set to go through regardless.
“Hannah?” Robin said, the sleep making her voice sticky.
“Robin, I am so sorry it’s so late, early? Regardless, we have a healthy baby girl that was dropped off at the hospital’s Safe Haven Box and needs an immediate home. If a parent does not claim her within the statute you can adopt.” There was silence for a moment, “Robin?”
“Y-yes! I’m here!” she choked out, tears running down her face. Her mouth could not keep up with the jumble of words flowing through her mind. “I’m coming, we are coming, Alton,” she pulled the bottom of the phone away from her cheek as she jostled her rousing husband. “Alton, there is a baby girl that needs a home, we need to go collect her.”
Alton was out of the bed like a shot, already dressed by the time his wife was done collecting necessary information from Hannah. The two of them loaded the infant car seat and grabbed the small pre-packed bag of supplies. If they arrived sooner than expected everyone would chalk it up to the deserted roads, and not the blatant speeding on the interstate.
Hannah was waiting for them in the maternity lobby. “I am so glad I was the first responder and could give you guys this chance, she is absolutely lovely!” Hannah said, buzzing the door so they could enter the secure hospital unit. “The poor dear was dropped off midday, had a horrible case of colic, but after a good burp and a diaper she was fine, Dr’s said most likely she had been nursing and was suddenly switched to formula. She was extremely clean and in new clothing, whoever dropped her off obviously cared about her. She has been cleared by the hospital staff and I have been given the okay to pass her off to a family with the intent to adopt. I figured that once the clearance came in you wouldn’t mind the strange time of night-”
“Of course not!” Robin confirmed abruptly as the social worker pushed open the door to the nursery, indicating which bed the child resided in with a tilt of her head. There were a number of infants of various ages throughout the room, but as Robin and Alton approached the indicated bed it was as if the rest of the world dropped away.
“She’s perfect,” Alton breathed, wrapping his arm around his wife for support. The small, almost olive tone baby with fluffy black fuzz on her head was sucking on her little fist and restless in her sleep. “How many years have we waited for this Angel?”
“12 years Alton, 12 years,” and at that the babe cracked open her piercing blue eyes and looked right at her new parents.
The nurse nearby was just finishing feeding one of the infants and laid their sleeping form down before approaching the couple. “If you would like to hold her you can, this girl needs a lot of love.” Though Robin was almost too scared to move or say a word, a nudge from her husband and the warm smile from the nurse found her stepping forward. “Sit there,” the nurse said, indicating the armchair next to the bed. Once Robin was settled the nurse lifted the now fussing infant and laid her in her trembling arms. After a few adjustments and a knowing smile, she retreated and gave the new family some time to become acquainted.
Alton and Hannah did most of the paperwork together while Robin cooed, nuzzled, and fed the baby. Tears of joy often spilling down her cheeks. As she was drifting to sleep, Robin relinquished the baby to her husband, within a few minutes they made eye-contact. With a knowing smile he asked, “Lydia?”
His wife grinned back at him, “Lydia,”
“Welcome to our family Lydia Foster, we hope you can stay forever.” Alton kissed his daughter’s forehead with all the care in the world.
As the new family left the hospital around daybreak, a small shadow watched them go, wiping away conflicted tears and heaving a great sigh of relief.
'This was best, this was best.'
'This choice IS best.'
“Robin!” Alton called, “Our little girl’s eyes are coming in!”
“What? No! I had hoped they’d stay such a beautiful blue!” She sighed as she came out into the yard, drying her hands on a towel.
“Look, when the sun hits her eyes, you can see this beautiful orange!”
“Orange?” she asked, coming closer. Lydia was sitting upright on her blanket in the yard banging a stick into her toy blocks, enjoying the sound. Her cheeks rosy from the early spring chill. She looked up at her parents from time to time.
“Oh!” Robin exclaimed, “It is the color of that solidified sap, the kind with bugs in it, what’s that, amber?”
“Ah, yes, I bet when it completely fills in it will shine like that too,” her father cooed. Lydia giggled and waved her pudgy arms in response.
“I can’t do it! I won’t! You can’t make me Alton Foster!” Robin was saying, holding her daughter close in a protective stance. Her husband had his hands on his hips, exasperated.
“I am not cutting it off! I am just going to snip that last black bit at the back of her neck,” But his wife just twisted her body away hiding Lydia’s mostly auburn hair and he set down the scissors. “Fine, have it your way.”
“Alton!” came a desperate cry from the other side of the house. He rushed towards a familiar scene. His wife frantically standing on her tiptoes, reaching for their daughter. “I know you are working, but can you watch her just while I make lunch?”
Alton approached his wife and wrapped his fingers around her waist, lifting her the few inches she needed to reach Lydia. “It must not be the couch that she uses to get up here, I thought rearranging would solve this problem,” he looked toward the armoire thoughtfully.
Meanwhile, Robin was busy extricating Lydia from her head, the small girl was, most assuredly, a climber. Not quite able to walk, assumed about 11 months old, and somehow able to get into the most unusual places. If wrangling the child was this difficult now, what of it when she could walk?
Robin had Lydia enrolled in a tumbling class as soon as she was of age, this helped control the climbing urge and direct it towards more appropriate activities. Especially as she advanced in gymnastics. However, it did not curb her boundless energy as much as they had hoped.
A tired but happy smile always graced her lips as Robin watched Lydia run laps in their backyard, accompanied only by her vast imagination. Thank goodness they were now at a point where a firm commanding tone would stop Lydia in her tracks. It had taken a solid 6 months to break her habit of climbing the privacy fence and now, at almost 4, she can run practically free in the backyard with minimal supervision.
“Lydia! Dinner is ready!” her mother called.
“Lydia and Willow!” the girl called back, not pausing in her run.
“Lydia! Willow! Come in for dinner!” Robin said, knowing full well you could not ignore her imaginary friend. “What were you two up to today?” she asked, shooing her daughter toward the sink.
“We were helping the baby eagles get away from the bad guys Willow be a monkey so she could climb the tree and I be a shooter to pre-tect them from bad guys!”
“Oh? What did you shoot?”
“Lava! It was so hot it scared-ed them away before they came close!” Robin arched an eyebrow and Lydia hurried to explain, “Oh! Don’t worry Mama! I have my lava boots on so I don’t get burnd-ed!”
“And the Eagles?”
“They be in a tree, so they didn’t touch the lava. Willow took them down on the other side. We were running to their new home to make them safe.”
“Well, I for one, am glad that you are so thoughtful!” said a deep voice as Alton came into the room after work.
“Papa!” Lydia shouted as she clambered up into his arms.
“Wow! Your hands are cold!” he laughed, and she clung to his neck.
“Smell them! I just washed-ed them!”
Alton sniffs dramatically, “Oh yes, you washed them well! Not a single smelly finger in the house. In fact,” he continued, “I can also smell dinner, let’s go sit down and eat!”