She said she planned to leave the baby at the hospital. Large with overdue belly she sat in a plush chair, the large smile never leaving her dark face. The connections are complicated. Sister of maid is pregnant. In her thirties, circumstances unknown, she tells the maid-sister her idea. Maid-sister tells boss-lady, a wealthy Bolivian housewife with a young family of her own. Boss-lady gasps to pastor-wife the horror, begging for the orphanage to take the poor creature in. Pastor-wife has a friend waiting to adopt a baby boy. Friend and her husband agree to meet and talk about options.
Pastor-wife picks up friend, her husband, and their toddler son. They drive to boss-lady’s fancy house. Soda passed out the sisters come and sit. All seven sit to talk of the future, eight with the unborn child. Is the child a boy? Sister smiles and shrugs her shoulders. Phone numbers exchanged, ultra sound scheduled.
Word flies around our circles. A second family steps forward to take in the child if the birth reveals a girl. More rushing around. More talks with lawyer, doctor, clinics, mamas, papas, friends. The second family steps down. A third couple takes their place. Yes, we will take the girl.
Yes, the ultra sound finds the sister will give birth to a sister. Sister of many in the belly. Plans are made for birth mama and adoptive family, third couple, to meet the next day. Baby can’t wait. The night brings cries, hard labor, the baby backed into the world, born into a plan.
Boss-lady calls pastor-wife with news and what do we do now questions. Pastor-wife calls friend. Friend mobilizes circle. A visit to the birth ward is made. Third couple anxiously waits at the door while friend talks to sister to find out what her heart says. Yes, I want the couple to have my child.
Third couple gently meet the newest addition to their beautiful burgeoning family. Baby soap, diapers, blankets, clothes, a meal for sister, and other things are bought and brought since the hospital provides only the hospital gown. After the visit sister is left to care for the baby girl, nurses permit only nursing, no bottles.
How long last night must have been.
Pastor-wife sneaks in with church-member-medical-resident-at-hospital at the start of the morning.
“Do they still want to take the baby?” tired sister asks. The same question will be whispered with the same great big smile and large worn out eyes more than one more time that morning. Pastor-wife reassures each time.
“My baby will be raised in a Christian home,” sister says as she reaches her hand out to the baby girl cradled in pastor-wife’s arms. The hand is retrieved before making contact.
“She doesn’t want my milk,” sister explains. “I am hurting,” she says wincing and tugging at the ragged gown. Exposed. Nervous. Barefoot.
“You know I don’t have any toilet paper,” sister hangs her head and giggles. Pastor-wife wonders how sister can still be smiling and says, “I will go get you some.”
At the front gate of the hospital two rolls are bought for fifty cents. Pastor-wife makes calls to friend so friend can inform circle of the latest before returning to sister’s side. Harried details deliberated. Pastor-wife chats with the nurses before bidding farewell to sister and baby girl.
Pastor-wife returns to house where her littlest ones have spent the morning with yet another adoptive missionary couple and their newborn surprise, delivered right to them by Divinity’s hand, good friends. This missionary couple knows the third couple who pastor-wife has never met. More calls to the circle. Sister needs clothes. The ones she came in were taken away. Clothes will be taken to her tomorrow.
Pastor-wife thinks about sister and baby girl in the hospital this night. She remembers her parting words to sister, “You are a brave woman. What you are doing for the good of your child is a brave thing. You are a brave woman.”