Krista and her daughter are struggling to survive on the small income Krista makes at a local drug store. Thoughts of adoption race through her mind. She knows the memory would stick with Emma Joy the rest of her life, but would it be best for her daughter? She wonders if God is leading her to make this heartbreaking, yet necessary decision.
Raising Emma Joy
Things just aren’t working out. Letting out a sigh, her brow furrowed and eyes quickly watered. Grabbing a dishcloth and drying the clean dinner plate, Krista Hayes turned out of her daughter’s view and set the plate in the cupboard. Regaining concentration and composure, she turned around and stuck her hands into the warm soapy water once again. Her mind wondered back to her 12th grade year. That mistake cost her a college education and career, but as the nurse gently eased Emma’s tiny body into Krista’s arms, her heart melted. Eyes sweeping across the child’s precious face, Krista observed her delicate nose, sparkling blue eyes, little ears, and angel soft skin. Smiling down into the innocent face that peered up at her, she adored the petite fingers that wrapped around her thumb. Bringing Emma close to her heart, she promised that she would never let her go. Looking up from the sink, Krista watched Emma Joy, contentedly settled by the living room window in their tiny apartment. Legs crossed Indian-style, Emma, now four, sat on the carpeted floor stacking her yellow, red, and blue building blocks as high as she could. The sun illuminated her dark blonde hair and her bright eyes mirrored happiness itself. Every giggle made Krista smile. The dark pink leggings and polka-dotted shirt fit Emma’s sweet personality. Krista wanted to scoop her up, dropping kisses all over her face and tickling her sides just to hear that burst of laughter. She tried to regain her focus. What would she do? Until now, she had dismissed every thought that popped into her mind concerning her and Emma and the future they had. She wasn’t the perfect parent, but how could she be at only 22? Emma didn’t have a father, but she needed one. When Krista’s boyfriend found out, he tried to convince her to abort, even going as far as scheduling the appointment for her. But she had already gone too far that night. Two wrongs don’t make a right, she had thought. She couldn’t ask God for forgiveness for that terrible sin and then murder a faultless child. The guilt would have been too much. When Krista refused, he dumped her right away. And now she was alone. It was just her and Emma. But was that enough? She didn’t want Emma ending up like her. What can I do though?…adoption? Frustration clouded her mind and she decided to put the subject away, at least for the now.
Mommy, don’t leave me! Emma clutched her mother’s jeaned leg, tears streaming down her red face and loud cries bursting from her open mouth. Honey I have to, Krista replied, crying so hard the words could only come out syllables at a time. Don’t cry honey, we’ll see each other again soon, Krista soothed. Face wet with tears, she bent down to her knee and embraced Emma tightly, cherishing her. Shh, it’s ok sweety. Don’t cry darling. Emma threw her arms around Krista’s neck and grasped her mother’s yellow blouse, trying to hold onto the only person she loved. Mommy! Emma screamed hysterically as Krista began prying her little hands from her leg. No! Mommy! No! Don’t leave! Thrusting her into the arms of the adoption agent, Krista took a step back. She felt as though someone tore her heart straight out of her chest and threw it a hundred miles away. As the woman took ahold of Emma’s hand and started pulling her away, Emma cried even louder, trying with all her might to run back into her mother’s arms. Reaching her free hand toward her mother, she screamed. No, Mommy, I love you! Don’t leave me! Krista could barely breathe she was crying so hard. Heart breaking and face still soaked with fresh, warm tears, Krista took another step back. Wait, what am I doing? She continued backing away, eventually getting into her car. No! Stop! Go back and get her! You can’t leave your daughter crying in the arms of an adoption agent. You’ll never see her again! Despite her thoughts, she proceeded to get in her car and turn on the ignition, crying all the more. But it was as though she didn’t have the power to go back – as if she couldn’t control her actions. Then a deep voice sounded in her mind, blocking out Emma’s crying, the car’s rattle, and even her own thoughts – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). “Mommy!” a fresh voice resonated in her head. “Mommy, get up!” Emma? Krista’s eyes fluttered open and she saw her beautiful little daughter leaning over her, still in her purple princess pajamas and holding her yellow sippy cup. “Hey sweetie.” Her heart swelled with relief as she wrapped her arms around Emma, bringing her up next to her on the bed. As Krista childishly pulled the covers up over their heads, Emma turned on her side to face her mother. Curling up in a little ball and hugging her knees with one hand, still holding her yellow sippy cup in the other, Emma promised, “I love you Mommy. More than anyone in the whole world.”
Imitating Emma’s actions, Krista turned to face her daughter and pulled her knees up as well. Her dark brown eyes gazed into Emma’s “I love you too honey. More than anyone.”
The day had been long. Krista could not keep her mind off of the dream she had the night before and had trouble concentrating at the drug store – what did it mean? The deep voice in the end – it had to be God. It was so soothing, but how could it be? Was He trying to tell her that adoption was not the only way? That He would take care of them? Or maybe God was telling her that Emma needed a new family? Trying to show her that it would be hard, but worth it. But, I love her so much… Was that selfish? Had she been selfish all this time, wanting to keep Emma. She’s all I have…I’m all she has… Krista sighed and reached across the small space between her bed and the lamp, quickly turning it off and lying back down. She starred into the darkness for several seconds, mind blank but heart troubled. Rolling around to her right side, she pleaded, “God, please. Show me what to do.” Taking a deep breath, Krista closed her eyes.
The next morning, Krista woke to the annoying beeping of her alarm clock. Ugh, time to get up – Monday. Turning the alarm off, Krista dragged herself out of bed. Her shift started at seven. After a quick shower, Krista threw on her work clothes and put her thick brown hair into a sloppy bun, adding a little make-up to cover the unwanted circles under her dark brown eyes. Stepping out the door, a verse came to her. “Look at the birds of the air… your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?… Do not worry…(Matthew 6:26,31)” Krista sighed. What are you trying to tell me, Lord?
Blankly staring at the little silver bell near the cash register, Krista’s mind wandered. Thoughts about Emma continued to fill her mind until her wristwatch started beeping. Checking the time, Krista sighed. Eleven o’clock. When she spotted Lauren, walking down the street, she peeked into the manager’s office. “Mr. Davis, Lauren’s here. I’ll be back at three, ok?”
“That’s fine, Ms. Hayes. See you later.” the old manager smiled. Krista tried to smile back, but she wasn’t sure if a smile actually appeared on her face. Grabbing her purse, Krista opened the door and stepped outside. As the cool breeze blew loose strands of hair about her face, Krista began the short walk back to their apartment. Tossing her things on the kitchen counter, Krista slipped her shoes off and sunk into recliner in the living room. “Mommy!” Emma yelled as pounded through the hall of the building. Opening the door, she ran into her mother’s arms. “Emma!” Krista smiled, pulling Emma onto her lap. “How was school, honey?”
“Mommy, we got to play with finger paint! Look at mine!” As they both got up, Emma carefully placed the large sheet of cardstock on the kitchen table. She admired her work for a minute and then peered into her mother’s face. Krista fought the tears back, blinking rapidly. Emma’s little work of art was combined of several different colors of paint all mixed together. But in the center of the paper was the word “forever,” which Emma had clearly written out with her little finger. “Did you spell that word all by yourself, sweetie!” Krista asked surprised.
“No,” Emma admitted. “Mrs. E. helped me. All the other kids just mixed their colors together, but I wrote a word on it so we can hang it in my room and it will look pretty. See, the little string will hold it up. Can we, Mommy?”
Smiling into the beautiful face of her daughter, Krista replied, “Of course! It’s beautiful, Emma.” Emma danced around while Krista grabbed a small nail and hammer. Thank you God!