Excerpt from The Amish Mother's Secret
Lindsay enjoyed watching Phoebe get a group picture with her high school friends. They just received their diplomas, so they now had the proud honor of being called graduates. Huge smiles were pasted on their faces as they posed. Lindsay wanted to get a photo with her daughter while she still had her white graduation robe on, but it looked like it would take several minutes for the photos to be taken. Phoebe looked beautiful with her big, brown eyes and long, black hair. Lindsay briefly reflected on how her daughter resembled Harris, Phoebe’s father, a great deal.
When some of the graduates were taking pictures with their relatives, her friend Roberta Sterling invited her and Phoebe to join her family for a photo. That wasn’t a surprise since Roberta’s daughter, Haley, had been Phoebe’s best friend since grade school. Lindsay and Phoebe had been invited throughout the years to their house for holidays and birthdays. Even though Roberta had invited them to their graduation party, Lindsay would’ve enjoyed going to dinner alone with Phoebe to celebrate. Of course, she knew it would be more fun to join Haley’s exuberant family.
For the photo, Phoebe put her arm around her shoulders. From the corner of her eye, Lindsay saw her friend Roberta, an attractive woman with auburn hair, touch her daughter’s arm. “You did an outstanding job on your valedictory speech. You made me feel so many emotions. I laughed, and I cried.”
“Thank you. Mom helped me write it.”
“I only helped you a little, and your delivery was awesome.” Lindsay smiled at her daughter.
“Nicholas, get over here for our picture before we all blow away!” Roberta smoothed her hair into place. “It’s a beautiful day except for the wind.”
A good-looking boy left his group of friends to join them. “Sorry, I thought we were done with pictures.”
Haley rolled her eyes at her brother. “I think you enjoy making us wait on you.”
Nicholas grinned. He had blond hair like Haley and their dad. The other two Sterling boys had auburn hair like their mom. “Not true, but I appreciate you waiting on me.”
Several minutes later, Lindsay and Phoebe were in the car waiting for several vehicles in the line ahead of them to leave the parking lot. She noticed Phoebe seemed subdued. “Are you feeling okay?”
Phoebe frowned. “I’m a little sad. Kari reminded me I don’t have a dad and that I don’t have anyone except you. She said I go to Haley’s house all the time but they aren’t my family.”
“Honey, Kari’s probably jealous you were valedictorian and wanted to take a jab at you.” The competition had been fierce between the girls, and Kari had gotten second place.
Her brown eyes widened. “Mom, most of the time it’s been great being an only child, but it’s weird for me to not have a father or any living relatives. I enjoy spending time with the Sterling family, but it’d be nice to have others in our life.”
“I understand how you feel. I was an only child as well.”
“If Dad hadn’t died before I was born, I might have had a younger sibling. Kari’s not the only one who’s made comments to me about not having a dad.” Phoebe sighed. “I wish Dad had been in the audience to hear my speech today.”
“I’m sorry he wasn’t.” Lindsay’s heart thudded at Phoebe’s mention of her father. She’d kept a secret from Phoebe. Paul Prescott wasn’t her father. He knew she was pregnant with another man’s baby but had still married her. Lindsay wished with her whole heart that he hadn’t died in an automobile accident.
“I don’t even have grandparents.”
It wasn’t any great loss to Lindsay that her mother had died. She hadn’t been there for her for years. After Lindsay’s beloved father passed away, her mother hadn’t been the same. She had turned to alcohol to cope. Paul’s parents knew their son wasn’t Phoebe’s father. They’d refused to accept her and considered Lindsay to be lower class. She’d hoped their attitude would change so Phoebe could have grandparents, but it never did. They had passed away when Phoebe was a young child.
She hated to see Phoebe sad and wanted to cheer her up. “If you want to stay on campus instead of living at home, that’s fine. Your scholarship covers your tuition for all four years. I can pay for your room and board.”
Phoebe grinned at her. “Hey, are you trying to kick me out of the house? Ohio State is, like, ten minutes away from us. It’d be silly to pay for a dorm room.”
“I wasn’t trying to kick you out, but if you decide later you want to live on campus, I’ll understand.”
Phoebe squeezed her hand. “There are many students commuting to OSU. I look forward to staying at home. I love you, and really, it’s okay that I’m an only child. It means I don’t have to share you with a brother or a sister.” She laughed. “And Haley’s brothers treat me like a sister, anyway.”
Phoebe was not, in fact, an only child. Lindsay couldn’t tell her she had been born with two sisters. Why had she ever promised to keep the adoption a secret? It seemed like the right thing to do when she’d given Phoebe’s sisters, Amy and Jenna, to Katie and Roman to adopt. Family was so important to the Amish, and Katie yearned to have children. As a teenager, Lindsay couldn’t raise triplets without support from anyone. Seeing her triplets graduate together today would have been wonderful, but it wasn’t meant to be.
She smiled at her daughter. “The traffic is disappearing. Let’s get to the party and start celebrating.”
“I’m hungry. I couldn’t eat a lot at breakfast. I was nervous about giving the speech.” Phoebe giggled. “Kari should be glad she got to go first. I had to wait forever to give my speech.”
As Lindsay pulled out of the parking lot, she decided to tease her daughter. “I’m sure you won’t have to do a speech at Ohio State. I mean there are thousands of students in each class.”
“Haley’s in the other lane.” Phoebe raised her hand and waved. “That’s good you’re not expecting me to be valedictorian again. That means I can slack off at college. I’ll just need to keep my grades up enough to keep my scholarship.”
“Very funny. I can’t see you slacking off. Besides, I was kidding you.”
A serious expression took over Phoebe’s face. “Let’s go do something together before we go to the party.”
Lindsay stopped at the traffic light and turned to stare at Phoebe. “I’d love to. What do you have in mind?”
“I’m hungry for pancakes. We missed getting our pancakes this morning. I’ll text Haley and tell her we’ll be a little late.”
Getting pancakes and bacon was something they did together on Saturday mornings. Happiness flooded her heart at getting to enjoy time with her sweet Phoebe before attending Haley’s party.
“The breeze feels gut,” Katie Yoder said. She loved having the windows open in their farmhouse. Her mother, Naomi Gingerich, and sister, Lizzy, came to her house to visit. Her niece, Jane, was fast asleep on Lizzy’s lap. When her sister and brother-in-law adopted one-year-old Jane, they’d already been blessed with four kinner. It’d been a big surprise. No one had expected them to adopt. Everyone adored Jane, and she was such a blessing to the family. “Would you like another piece of cake, Mamm?”
“Nee, danki. It was appeditlich,” Naomi Gingerich smiled. “I want to save some for Seth. I know how much he loves cake.”
“Ya, he does. He really can put away the food.” Katie laughed and sipped her coffee. “He reminds me all the time that he’s still a growing boy.”
Naomi nodded. “He does have a healthy appetite.”
“Did you want me to put Jane in the crib?” Katie asked. Lizzie’s oak chair was shoved away from the table, so she couldn’t finish her coffee.
“Nee, I love holding her.” Lizzie pushed her glasses up her nose. “It’s nice having this time with Jane while the other kinner are in school. Jenna’s such a gut teacher.”
Katie nodded. “She loves teaching.”
“I remember you said Lindsay became a teacher. That’s something Jenna has in common with her birth mother.”
Why was her sister on this topic again? Ever since Lizzie adopted Jane, she’d urged her and Roman to tell their daughters they were adopted. She wished Lizzie would drop the topic. “I know what you’re going to say next, and I don’t want to tell Amy and Jenna about Lindsay. God blessed us with them.” A lump formed in her throat. “I’m their mother, and it’ll confuse them to know about Lindsay.”
Naomi reached her hand across the table to squeeze Katie’s hand. “Ya, you’re their mother and always will be, but they are eighteen now and can handle learning the truth. Lizzie’s right. You should tell them.”
“Lindsay agreed to keep our secret. I’m sure she means to keep it from Phoebe too.” Katie stared into her cup and thought about how adopting the girls brought meaning to her life. For years, she watched her younger siblings have kinner while she remained barren. Then a miracle happened, and she became a mother to Amy and Jenna. A short time later, she became pregnant with Seth.
“We’re going to tell Jane she’s adopted.”
“I’m sure she’ll figure it out anyhow. Jane will realize at some point she looks different from us.” Jane was an adorable Asian baby. Katie drew a deep breath. “Phoebe hasn’t been around to see her sisters, so I know Lindsay hasn’t told her the truth.”
Lizzie leaned down and brushed a kiss on Jane’s forehead. “Even if she weren’t Asian, I’d still tell her the truth. You should pray about it.”
Naomi traced the rim of her cup with her finger and looked at Katie. “I wonder how Lindsay is these days. She did a wonderful thing giving her babies to you and Roman, but it broke her heart. I think you should contact her and see how she feels about revealing the truth to the triplets. It’ll be a shock, but I think all three of them can handle knowing the truth.”
I can’t call. What if Lindsay agrees with them? I’ve been a good Amish mother, but what if Amy and Jenna come to love Lindsay more and want to live with her in her secular world? I can’t risk that happening.
A mixture of guilt and determination filled Katie’s heart. She hated being at odds with her family, but her mamm and schweschder were wrong. Amy and Jenna must never know about Lindsay and Phoebe.
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