The Greatest Gift This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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The day he came into our house was grey and melancholy. Snow had not yet graced the earth with its solemn beauty. The wind, screeching through the naked treetops, was fierce and bitterly cold. The ground was frozen, clumps of dirt as hard as stones. The fallen leaves and tiny, decaying blades of grass were laced with ice. Jack Frost had frolicked on the windows the night before, weaving intricate patterns on his icy loom.

This was the monotonous tone of many winter days, but somehow, the sky was even more overcast and the wind seemed to howl a mournful warning. Our lives were about to change forever.

The baby was so beautiful. His skin, a pale blushing color. His eyes, changing from green to brown according to mood changes. His hair, a soft, warm auburn color. I fell in love with him almost immediately. No more than five weeks old, he regarded our foreign features with the curiosity and speculation of a small infant, and whimpered loudly for the familiar, if not beloved, face of his mother. But she was nowhere to be found.

He was so innocent, so unaware of how precarious life could be, how everything could change forever in the twinkling of an eye. The natural bond between child and mother was nonexistent; in its place was treachery and abuse.

My mother took the child into her home and agreed to care for him until his dangerous situation could be resolved. Days turned into weeks, and weeks became months as the legal process of separating him from his birth mother dragged on. My family soon came to love and adore the baby as one of our own. The bond between mother and son developed within my own mother and the infant, as she cradled him to sleep on cold winter nights.

Since the problem was not yet resolved, the courts awarded the birth mother with temporary visitation rights twice a month. A guardian for the baby, appointed by the state, had to be with birth mother during all visits, since she had threatened the baby’s life. The guardian was also to evaluate the mother, “Clare,” and her understanding of child care.

Often this incompetent supervisor would get the dates mixed up and my mother would end up overseeing the visits. “Clare” would emotionally exhaust her, pleading for the baby we felt she didn’t deserve. To the tiny infant, “Clare” was just another face. He did not know her.

During this time, my mother grew very bitter toward “Clare” and the Department of Human Services. What kind of justice system would consider returning a helpless baby to an unfit mother?

A summer came and went, blowing its warm breezes and gentle rains. In its place was the moaning wind and dead leaves crackling beneath our feet. The pungent odor of fire burning in the wood stove. The bitter air, prickling our noses.

The baby was a year old now, a precious part of our family. Worry for him chafed at my heart. In the depths of sleep, I dreamt he was taken away and abused by his birth mother until the tiny body lay beneath the frigid, heartless earth …

The baby’s father did not wish to be pressed for child support; as a result, the department could never prove who the real father was. How could two human beings be so callous to their own son, a perfect little boy? When so many loving people had nothing, I abhorred them for what they had done to their flesh and blood.

That was two years ago. Now my little brother is three years old. It is winter once again. Tomorrow, my parents will confront “Clare” one more time in court. I pray that this time will be the last.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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