by Carissa Jean
Follow 2 couples as they compete to see who will grow into a family of 3
“Remember, in through your nose out through your mouth. Good job honey, you’re doing great!” he reassured her. Within a few minutes her hands had quit shaking and color was returning to her face.
“We’re here sweetheart,” he said as he got out of their jeep and opened the door for her. They were almost to the door of the adoption agency when the secretary opened the door and greeted them.
“Good afternoon, I’m so glad to see you today. Erica is waiting for you in our meeting room, it’s located down the hall, last door on your right,” declared the attendant.
The eager couple walked down the hall, hand in hand, feeling as though they would never reach the meeting room. Not saying a word to each other, both were secretly hoping they would be meeting a small baby to call their own. Entering a room painted light blue with pink storks on the wall they saw a woman accompanied by a man, but no baby. The two couples stared at one another with looks of confusion on their faces. At that very moment Erica walked into the room.
“Hello everyone, exclaimed Erica. Before I get started I would like to introduce you to each other. Tom and Tanya Sandberg meet Mark and Debra Bickel. I know how deeply both of you want a baby and with that said I have ran into a very unique situation. A mother has recently given birth to a sweet little boy named Milo and would like to put him up for adoption. As she was looking at the different files she discovered both of your families and could not choose between the two of you. So you will be engaging in a scavenger hunt. The results will be given at the final destination in the hunt. In these envelopes hold your first clue!” Erica handed each couple an envelope. The first couple immediately jumped out of their seats and ran to the door, pushing Debra back down in her seat. The Bickel’s being in complete shock entered their vehicle. They came in expecting to meet their future child and instead were served a scavenger hunt. As Mark started the car; Debra read aloud the first clue:
Hello my name is Milo and I’ve been told that you could be my new Mommy and Daddy. I’m excited to meet you both in person, but I have a few places I need you to go before I can officially see you. The first place is the oldest restaurant in our lovely town and also the most frequent place mommy ate at while she was pregnant with me. This is where mom taco too much to me!
Mark immediately started the car he knew exactly where to go. There was a small restaurant located on the south side of town called La Fiesta, it was established in the early 1920’s and everyone knew they had the best tacos in town. Just as Mark pulled into La Fiesta’s driveway, the Sandberg’s were jetting towards their car each boasting an enormous smile on their face. Feeling defeated, Mark and Debra stepped inside where they were pleasantly welcomed by a hostess who asked if they were part of the scavenger hunt. Debra couldn’t get any words out, but her obsessive nodding let the server know what she needed to and without hesitation they were given their next clue. Mark opened the envelope and passed it to Debra as they sprinted back to their jeep. It read:
As a child my mother went to this school and cheered on the Indians, but her favorite part of the day was recess where she would be allowed to play her favorite game. It’s on this playground you will find your final clue.
I bet his mother went to Agassiz Elementary, I remember being a student there and our mascot was an Indian! Pulling up to the school the Bickel’s noticed that Tom and Tanya were still there looking for the last clue. Their confidence instantly grew as they started to sprint towards the playground.
“Mark, what was the most popular game at recess when you were growing up?” Debra asked.
“Everyone wanted to play tether ball, I even got hit with the ball a few times,” Mark chuckled. Debra ran to one of the tether balls and found an envelope attached. Noticing the Bickel’s had found something Tom and Tanya were now looking at the tether ball, but found nothing until they saw another pole and ball. Now both couples were running frantically back to their cars.
“Hurry read the last clue!” Mark shrieked.
The last two places were meaningful to mom, but this final place is somewhere I hope you take me to on beautiful sunny days. Mommy tells me that I can ride magical horses, if I can find them.
“I know where that is! It’s the old carousel at Union Park. Let’s go!” Debra shouted excitedly.
Finally Debra and Mark made it to Union Park where the carousel was situated at the bottom of a hill.
“Hello Bickel’s, I’m so glad you have found our last clue! The results of the scavenger hunt will be given soon. Mark you look very exhausted. We have a cooler in the shelter house filled with bottles of water and lemonade, be sure to help yourself. Both of you take a moment to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather” said Erica.
Debra looked at Mark with a large smile as they started walking to the shelter house. Grabbing a bottle of water they sat at a picnic table. Looking around Erica was the only one to be seen. “We did it!” exclaimed Debra.
“We will be leaving here as a family” Debra embraced Mark in a hug. “Just think, we can take sweet little Milo to this very park for a picnic when he gets older. I will read stories to him every night. Let’s not forget about the petting zoo” Debra said grinning from ear to ear.
“Yeah, and I can teach him how to play catch” Mark said with a twinkle in his eye. At that moment the Sandberg’s emerged from the bathroom. Tanya arrogantly smirked at them as she said hello and walked past them. Their excitement quickly turned into grief when they realized the Sandberg’s had beaten them to the carousel. Debra was holding back tears as her dream of leaving the park as a family of 3 had now vanished. Mark tried to comfort Debra by embracing her tightly as he kissed her forehead just before he whispered in her ear that everything would be ok. Debra began to calm down once some carnival music started to play. Noticing the cue everyone’s attention turned to the carousel, but it was completely stationary. Looks of confusion emerged on all their faces as a young woman wearing red lipstick and a black coat walked out from behind the carousel.
“Hello, my name is Wendy and I am Milo’s mother. After careful consideration I have finally decided who I would like to raise Milo, but first I want both families to know how hard this decision has truly been for me. I’m confident both families will be able to financially support Milo and give him a good environment to grow up in. Tanya and Tom, from the moment I read your profile I liked your personalities. I recognized both of you have character, and would pass that on to my little boy. Debra and Mark, I know that you have yearned for children for a very long time and simply put, you have a lot of love to share with Milo” After a long pause Wendy continued, “Debra and Mark would you please be Milo’s parents.”
“You can’t do this, Tanya and I was here first. We won the scavenger hunt. Milo should be going home with us.” yelled Tom. Erica Immediately stood up.
“I never said the winner would be the person adopting Milo. If you remember correctly, I said that the results would be given at the last stop in the scavenger hunt. Wendy has chosen the couple she would like to raise her son, and now that the decision has been made I think it is wise for you to leave,” Erica instructed Tom.
Tom and Tanya walked angrily back to their car while Debra sat frozen in place with a baffled look on her face. Wendy picked up Milo and approached the lucky couple. Mark quickly thanked her for choosing them, but Debra still appeared to be puzzled. As Wendy was placing Milo in Debra’s arms, she asked if everything was alright.
“I cannot wait for our lives as a family of three to begin, but there is one thing I cannot understand. I thought the whole reason we participated in the race was because you couldn’t decide who you wanted to adopt Milo and the Sandberg’s won the scavenger hunt fairly; so why are we the fortunate couple who is taking him home with us?” Debra asked.
Wendy smiled and replied “The scavenger hunt had nothing to do with who I was going to choose for Milo’s forever family. Everyone looks good on paper. It’s when you see them in action you can tell who they really are. I used the scavenger hunt to disguise the real test. I noticed when I walked out from behind the carousel that you immediately recognized me. Yes, I was the woman wearing a black jacket, with sunglasses perched atop my head, looking at a map appearing to be lost outside of La Fiesta. You instantly showed compassion and asked if I needed any help. Both of you made sure I knew exactly how to get to my destination before you left and went to your next clue. Tanya and Tom were so focused on winning the scavenger hunt that they were completely oblivious to their surroundings. Tom even bumped into me and kept walking. On the second stop, the school, there was a little boy frustrated that his shoe was untied and he needed help tying it. The Sandberg’s coldly walked by him even after he specifically asked for their help. Mark that was Erica’s son and you don’t know how happy he is that you taught him how to tie his shoe, he has been aggressively striving to accomplish that all week and you explained it in a way he could follow as well as remember. Even though you were seeking to win the scavenger hunt, you still put the needs of others before yourself. That is why Milo will be leaving with you. Now, why don’t you quickly sign the paperwork so you can introduce Milo to his new home.” Mark was now giving Debra a side hug as she was now crying with tears of joy as she held little Milo in her arms. Finally, the long stressful day was over and the family of two finally became a family of three.
Word Count: 1980