Woman Leaves Her Newborn Son in an Orphanage, Years Later Marries the Man Who Adopted Him

2 | Woman Leaves Her

This is beautiful,” Michael said when I walked him around the gallery on opening night. “But there’s so much darkness here.” “I know,” I agreed, holding a glass of champagne. “But I guess that’s why some secrets are better left hidden.” Michael looked at me for a moment, and I wondered what he was thinking. His eyes glazed over, and I knew he was remembering something. “Are you okay?” I asked him. “Yes,” he said, taking my hand. At the end of the night, Michael dropped me off at my apartment, where I had enough time to overthink my secret.

I needed to tell Michael about the baby. Eighteen years ago, my life was a struggle. I was just 20 years old, abandoned by the father of my child, and abandoned by my family for getting pregnant in the first place. I was studying art history at the community college by night and working at the local florist by day and weekends. I could barely cover my rent and groceries. There was absolutely no way I could afford the expenses of raising a baby. And the thought of having a child and not giving him the best I could gave me sleepless nights. iin the end—and without having a support system—I gave birth to my newborn son. It was a fairly quick labor, and my son came into the world in a fit of rage. “I know it, little buddy,” I told him as I held him in my arms. “The world is unfair.” A week later, I left my son on the doorstep of an orphanage, convincing myself that it was for his best. For his benefit. “He’ll find a family who will give him a big and bright life, Julia,” I told myself when I got home. I felt hollow for years—there was a part of me that was missing. Whenever I saw a little boy that looked to be his age, I wondered if it could be my son. But I would never know. Eventually, I had to force myself to push through the pain. “You have given up a piece of your heart and soul, Julia,” my therapist said. “You owe it to him to focus on your life. Do better. Use your degree, make your connections. Make the most difficult decision in your life count for something.” And then everything changed. I went out, making connections, interning in galleries, shadowing artists to see their process. I threw my life into other people’s art—looking at their pain and pleasure splashed across the canvas. Nobody knew about my son. I met Michael when I bought the space for my gallery. He had been interested in the building, hoping to make it his head office. “I could fight you for it,” he said, smiling at me when we both went to view the place. “But I’d settle for getting to know you.” Years of getting to know each other had led us to this moment—months away from our wedding but haunted by secrets brought to the surface by my opening night. The next morning, Michael came over. “Last night got me thinking,” he said. “There’s something I need to tell you, before we get married. It’s important.” Michael went about his routine of making coffee while I helped myself to the cinnamon buns he had brought. I didn’t know what Michael was about to tell me. I just knew that when he was done, I had no choice but to tell him about my son. “Julia,” he said, “Years ago, Kelly and I adopted a child before Sarah and David were born. It was something we wanted to do—we wanted to give a child a home first. We wanted to give him the best life we could. We just wanted to love him and give him a family.” “Where is he?” I asked cautiously. The topic of adoption had gotten under my skin. I grew more anxious with every sip of coffee. “His name was Lucas, and he died in an accident. It was a school hiking trip, and Lucas fell while trying to help another student.” “I’m so sorry,” I said, gripping Michael’s hands tightly. “It was tragic. But he was such an adventurous spirit,” he said. “Lucas loved being outdoors. Even at the orphanage, they said that Lucas could always be found sitting outside playing with his toys.” Michael’s recount of the accident and Lucas’s loss reopened my wounds, bringing back the guilt and sorrow I’d buried deep down. “Michael, there’s something I have to tell you, too,” I confessed. Once I began speaking, there was no stopping the flow of words. “How could you keep it from me?” he asked. “Something of that nature?” “I could ask you the same thing,” I said, not unkindly. “Do you believe in fate?” Michael asked. “I don’t know,” I replied. “Show me a photo of Lucas, please.” There was Lucas. A teenager who had my father’s eyes and chin. It was clear—Michael’s son was my own. Before I knew what was happening, I was bolting to the bathroom, my stomach churning. “Julia?” Michael asked from behind the door. “What happened there? What did you see?” I looked at Michael, seeing my future flash before me, filled with doubt that this man would want to marry me after this. “I saw my father in Lucas,” I said. “I think he was my son, too.” Michael’s face paled in front of me, his jaw slack. “Are you sure?” he asked. “You’re not just seeing something you want to see?” “No, I’m sure.” I washed my face, and we went back to the living room. “Would it help if we knew for certain?” Michael asked me. I nodded. The rest of the day went by in a blur, and I mourned the loss of my son all over again. I knew I saw my father’s eyes in Lucas—the boy was definitely family. It couldn’t just be a coincidence. The next day we went to the orphanage, eager to find out the truth. The social worker looked horrified when I recounted the details of how I had abandoned my son on their front step. But when she checked Lucas’s records, it matched perfectly. “Only a DNA test would confirm it properly,” she said. “But given the circumstances and our records, it’s a match. I think your son was our Lucas.” Michael gripped my hand tightly. Later, we sat at the beach and spoke about Lucas some more. “You have to believe in fate, Julia,” he said. “My son was connected to you. He still is. He’s our son.” The weeks that followed were tough. I knew that Michael looked at me differently. But what difference would it have made? Lucas would never have met me anyway. I came into Michael’s life too late. We went to counseling because I believed that everything needed to be on the table before we continued with our wedding planning. We seem to be on the right path—a journey of healing, but it’s been difficult. Months later, we did have our wedding. And Michael and I were pushed closer by the secrets we had uncovered. During the reception, Michael pulled me aside and showed me the depth of his love and forgiveness. “We’re going to start a charity, darling,” he said. “It will be called Lucas’s Light, and it will be for young single mothers, just like you were. We will be their safe haven, and we will help them. They wouldn’t be forced to give up their babies just because of life’s circumstances.” I’m still not sure if I believe in fate—but I believe that my son was looking out for me all along, guiding me to Michael. Now, I’m going to spend all my free time honoring Lucas’s memory through the charity. Life is crazy.

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