| Jason and Abbie stood, looking with great concern at the baby in the bed. Her tiny body was almost completely obscured within monitors and machinery. The two prospective parents quietly prayed for Shalana as she struggled to grasp fragile life. She was only six months old, and she just lost her mommy! Her father was long gone. True, Shalana had been born outside of marriage, which didn't make for a stable home. However, soon after Suzannah realized she was pregnant, she found her Lord and Savior. That little baby couldn't have had a more devoted mother than Suzannah. Shalana's father didn't want to have a thing to do with her, but Jason and Abbie were most willing to take Shalana, should she survive. As they stood over the baby they hoped would be theirs, a third person entered quietly. Jason turned to see the unfamiliar man standing behind Abbie, peeking over her shoulder.
"You!" Jason gasped in surprise.
"Yeah, it's me..." Lance's voice trailed off as he surveyed his...daughter?
"It was before I...Lynn...you know." He's been around, Jason thought. So he has this history of leaving women pregnant and alone.
"You might not believe me, but I never meant for this to happen," Lance said in an unusually contrite tone.
"How many other fatherless children out there are yours?" Abbie asked coldly.
"Thank God there are others who will love your children. How many of these women will be destitute and living far below the poverty line just so you can have your "good times?" Jason asked tartly.
"I know I am responsible for a lot of tragedy, and I ain't proud of what I done. I wish I could go back and change all of this. I think the best thing for Shalana is to let you take her. I know you'll make great parents!"
Jason and Abbie could see the real shame in his eyes and hear the regretful tone of voice.
"Forgive me," they said in unison, and then Abbie continued, "The way I responded wasn't Christ-like."
"Yeah, I know you're doing the best you can to straighten out your life. Forgive me for speaking so harshly." Jason concluded
"Well, y'all got every right..." Lance's voice trailed off again, this time because of the doctor's arrival.
What have I done? Lance mentally screamed as his heart plunged into despair. Now the pediatrician was telling them Shalana probably wouldn't be able to walk and talk. She'd need constant care. The doctor tried to impress upon them just how difficult this would be. It was clear she thought it would be far too trying for the probable worth caring for this child would be. Well, she didn't know their God, and she didn't know the dedication of these two people.
"Dr. Frye," Abbie interrupted her tirade, "Shalana is a person. She's a life God created, and He made her for a reason and with a purpose. We wouldn't be here if we didn't believe this was what God wanted." The doctor left, shaking her head in bewilderment. What if she was right Even if Shalana never took a first step or uttered a sound, they would still love her as their own, because as God's creation she was a member of their family. No one could tell them anything different.
"Oh Godd!" The anguished cry brought Jason and Abbie out of their troubled thoughts.
"I have screwed up my life many times over!" Lance continued speaking his own tormented thoughts aloud.
"Lance," they said at once, "you're obviously repentent, so now you can figure out how to get your life in order. Self-recrimination isn't going to help you. And by stating that you want your daughter to stay with us shows that you're thinking of her best interests. That's a great sign."
"But you two don't understand. First, there was Anna, and now her mom is dead. Then there was Shalana, and her mom is dead, and then autumn, and her mom is dead! I can't believe the connection...Becky killed this baby's mama, and Lynn's daughter is dying, and I still can't abide what I done to that girl, either! How could God ever...no, I don't deserve that!" And with these agonized words, Lance turned and fled the place of his destruction.
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