A baby was left at Marie’s door.
Marie and her husband Nathaniel had been praying for a child for the seven years they had been married. God answered their prayers —but maybe not in the way that she was hoping. She wanted to fulfill God’s highest calling for a woman —to be a mother— and desperately wanted to keep the baby left at their door, at all costs. Yet she had a nagging, eerie feeling that she may have to fight to keep it. But Marie was used to fighting for things that were important to her and to God.
Marie’s childless marriage had made her very angry with women who didn’t want their babies. She had been writing letters to governments to criminalize abortion. Over the years, her anger had spread to issues of child sex abuse —even though she had never been sexually abused…nor did she know anyone who had been.
Her letter writing had proliferated to TV and radio stations and newspapers. She had joined a church group of mothers against abortion, even though she was not yet a mother herself. She went to meetings and baked cookies and pies for fundraisers. She marched with placards in front of abortion clinics and tried to convince women to keep their babies. She and her friends hunted down men facing court dates over child abuse —guilty or not— as well as those who had served their time in prison and had been released. They paraded in front of the men’s homes with placards. Her whole life was consumed by abortion and child abuse issues.
Since graduating from highschool nine years ago, Marie had been working at a small-town WallMart on the order desk. The daily arguments with her co-workers about abortions and abused children had made her less and less popular and more and more alienated at work. Newspaper clippings chronicling abortion and child abuse issues were posted all around her cubicle like a battlefield of mud and dead bodies. She had been reprimanded on several occasions for talking about her issues to customers on the phone. Everyone was so glad to hear her announce that she was leaving to take care of her baby. All the staff at the office turned up with joy to finally say good-bye. Marie saw this as kindness and was considering staying after all. But she finally decided that her baby was more important. They could survive easily on Nathaniel’s managerial income at the Bible printing shop.
The baby never cried. She was a lovely girl with brown hair and blue eyes, who just stared vacantly into the depths of her new parent’s souls. The doctor said that she had fetal alcohol syndrome; but with some extra care, she could grow up to be a healthy, normal baby. They named her Amy, which means Beloved in Latin. Marie proudly showed off her new baby at abortion protests and bake sales and at the mall. She was finally a mother!
Over several months of caring for the baby, Marie’s anger seemed to subside. She instinctively started to cook and bake more, and wrote fewer letters. She tried out new recipes and always had a scrumptious meal ready for Nathaniel when he arrived home from work. They both gained even more pounds around the middle.
Interestingly, Marie saw abortion as murder, but she did not equate her daily serving of chicken or pork or beef as a similar taking of life, or the killing of animals as somehow unjust. Her understanding of the Bible was literal. And in the Bible, animals were killed for food, as well as for sacrifices offered to God. Although, in Leviticus it states that lame or sick animals, deformed animals, even those missing one testicle, cannot be offered to God. If Marie had had the intellect to understand symbols or metaphors, she may have made the association between imperfect animals not worthy of being offered to God, and her new imperfect Fetal Alcohol Syndrome baby not being wanted by its own mother. Oblivious to Biblical nuances, Marie never bothered to ponder if God thinks less of disabled people, or if they will ever be able to get into heaven.
Marie was smiling and even chuckling with delight at the baby's gurgling and newly waving of her arms and legs. The feeling of joy and laughter in her heart made her feel alive again. She had not laughed in years. Laughter was not part of her family heritage. As such, she never really understood jokes or humour. But, with her visibly happier disposition, some of the neighbours seemed less afraid of her and started saying Hello —albeit somewhat warily.
Marie and Nathaniel also grew closer. They seemed to talk more and look into each other’s eyes more often. Nathaniel had never been physically affectionate, which is something Marie had missed in their marriage. Maybe this was because he had a low sperm count and low sex drive; or maybe because of his Biblical beliefs that sex was only for the purpose of bringing a child into the world. So Marie, twenty years younger than him, was often thwarted in her daily eagerness of trying to conceive, and had felt guilty and shameful that she often felt desirous. When their efforts failed over and over again, year after year, they gave up trying to conceive, and therefore, having sex. One night, Nathaniel suggested trying again to have a baby of their own union. His suggestion of sex was very welcome. They made love, all-the-while praying that they would conceive. They fell asleep in each other's arms like young lovers. They were happy again for the first time in years. They were hugging and kissing again at breakfast like newlyweds. It was now the beautiful and happy marriage that Marie had dreamed about as a young girl. They already owned their own humble home, with a baby's room that they had slowly decorated over the years. Now they had the baby and their rekindled love. God had truly blessed them.
As Nathaniel was rushing off to work, he stumbled over another baby at the front door. They did not expect their prayers to be answered so quickly. Now they had two children. The second baby was also a girl, with dark eyes and southern hemisphere features. But this baby was not quiet. She was very needy and cried constantly, day and night. The doctor said that she was healthy, but seemed to have been traumatized. She would need a lot of care and love to make her feel secure. They named her Laraine, which meant Sorrowful in Latin. They did their best to give Laraine all their love, and to hold her and rock her and feed her and clean her; but she just cried relentlessly. When Laraine started crying, sometimes Amy got scared and started to cry as well. The loving, peaceful calm which had until now cradled Marie and Nathaniel's home was now filled with sleepless nights and tension.
As Marie was going shopping one day, she literally fell over another baby at her front door. With bleeding knees and palms, she brought the new baby into the house. There were now three crying babies in her home. Supper was not ready when Nathaniel arrived home from work. He rarely showed emotion, but the new baby visibly startled him. He tried to smile, but the smile muscles on one side of his mouth seemed to quiver slightly. Marie noticed. She explained to him that God was testing them with a rough patch, which would evolve into the loving happy family with three children that they both had hoped for at one time. This was a blessing in disguise. Nathaniel took care of the babies while Marie ran to the store to buy dinner. He finally had a son, even if he was black as coal. They kept the third baby and named him Korbin, which means Raven in Latin.
The dark thoughts that Marie was now entertaining towards the crying and pooping babies, once again turned into volleys of letter writing about child abusers. The current news of the baby that was starved and shaken to death for crying, by the mother's boyfriend, made Marie especially furious. Even the thought of hurting a baby was a crime, she thought. Such thoughts could never even enter her head. Her letter writing became once again relentless. Although, her new letters were not as meticulously composed as before…Her primary duties were to care for the babies and to have dinner ready for Nathaniel.
Their friends in the Pro-life movement really admired Marie and Nathaniel Klassen for adopting children who were so unlike themselves. Even their standoffish next-door neighbour offered to help out if Marie needed some light baby-sitting. As the story of their altruism spread around the neigbourhood, more of the neighbours started to warm up to them. They were now accepted into the community and got some help taking care of the babies. The newfound friendships and help gentled them.
The quaint small-town scene of loving home and sharing community was short-lived, however. More babies were arriving on Marie and Nathaniel's doorstep each week —at last count they had seventeen. The babies were all shapes and sizes and colours and races, and most of them were somehow damaged. There were several crack babies with withdrawal symptoms. One had signs of mental retardation. Another one had a club-foot. Some had other special needs. One had jaundice and had to be quarantined. They had to hire help to take care of them all. The humble white-picket-fenced home became a day-and-night care centre. The chorus of crying babies could be heard around the block, and the neighbours were getting pissed off.
Family Services knocked on their door early one morning. The stout big-breasted grey-haired social worker was horrified to see so many babies, and all so different. She demanded to see the birth certificates, or the certificates of adoption. As Marie could not produce any documents, and all she could offer were the babies-at-the-doorstep stories, the woman called the police immediately. The house was ransacked and the babies were taken away. The Klassens were held in detention pending a hearing before a judge. They were released the next day, but without their babies. They returned home to the mess, but didn’t have the courage to clean up. The house was now too quiet and so very empty. A sadness fell over Marie and Nathaniel. For several days, they sat together after dinner in silence, and then went to sleep.
The Klassens were summoned to court to answer charges of running a child theft ring. It was all over the news on every TV channel, magazine and newspaper to which Marie had written letters. Those letters, which until now had never been published, suddenly appeared to have implications in the case, as reported by the news anchors. The Klassens now had inferred connections with the bombing of the abortion clinic and murder of one of the doctors. As no children were reported missing, the charges of child theft were dropped. But they were under suspicion, as the media had stirred up a devil’s brew with their insinuations. The investigation continued…
Where had all of these babies come from? As the news circulated, more and more babies kept coming in. Finally, the Sheriff posted unmarked patrol cars to watch the house. They apprehended several teenage girls in tears, as they were trying to leave their babies on the doorstep. Over the next few weeks, they apprehended more teenage girls attempting to leave their babies. It never stopped. The girls and their babies kept coming. It was an epidemic.
The girls were interrogated. They came from the local town and several outlying regions. They were young prostitutes or drug addicts, or highschool students who had gotten pregnant and had been left by their boyfriends. Some had been raped. None of them wanted their babies. After the local abortion clinic was gone, the girls had no place to turn. They could not get an abortion, so they had their child; but they could not keep the babies. All the young women Marie had counseled not to have an abortion did not know how to take care of their babies. Furthermore, they had no money to care for them. The schoolgirls would have to leave school, live in shame, uneducated and poor —and their whole life would be ruined. The victims of rape did not want to be reminded by seeing their babies. Some wanted an education and a career, and a chance to have a normal life when they finally met someone to marry.
The police discovered a flyer circulating with Marie’s and Nathaniel’s address on it as a place to drop off unwanted babies. Later, their name and address was published on the internet as the place to leave unwanted babies. Marie had indeed counseled girls not to abort, but instead to give birth to their babies, as killing an unborn child was a sin —but those were just words. After all the rhetoric, the girls were non-the-less stuck with babies, that they did not want and could not care for. Now that they were born, these babies had the right to a good home with loving parents. One 16 year old girl was adamant that everyone who counsels girls to not have abortions should be given those babies to care for, for the rest of their lives. Talk is cheap. Marie had asked for these babies and so she got them.
Marie and Nathaniel had to leave home. Police crime scene notices were placed all around the house, with signs posted, stating “Do NOT leave any babies here!,” along with 24-hour patrol cars outside the house. Eventually, the Klassens had to move away and hide out, like the abortion clinic workers whose names and addresses they had published on the internet.
Police investigations tracked down most of the mothers of the babies from birth records. Some gave birth at home the old fashioned way and could not be found. The babies were given up for adoption. The sick ones and the deformed ones could not be adopted. They stayed with Family Services, destined to grow up —or to die— in orphanages. There did not seem to be any Mozarts or Einsteins amongst them, but maybe it was too soon to tell.
Marie and Nathaniel legally adopted 3 babies. They chose the quietest, healthiest, cutest —and whitest ones.
"There is no such
thing as perfection.
Each step is a step
towards the next step."
Thankyou to my lovely,
smart sister Susan Fisch
for helping to edit my writings
in both English & French.
She does a great job.