I met a mom the other day who has truly opened her heart and her home. She’s an oncology nurse in a busy hospital. Three years ago, when a Nigerian refugee came to her ward seeking treatment for cancer, medical care wasn’t the only kind she needed. The young woman was also desperate for a safe place to live. She’d been assaulted at the home where she and her four-year-old daughter had been staying.
The nurse took her in. She must have thought, Why not? Her adult daughter was moving back home with a newborn baby boy, so any concept of empty-nesting had already, well, flown the coop.
Sadly, the Nigerian mom’s cancer proved incurable. But as her health declined over the next two years, the nurse only became closer to this tiny family, until any boundaries between her blood and theirs pretty much melted away.
By the time the young refugee was on her deathbed, there was no question in the nurse’s mind. She formally asked if she could adopt the little girl, now six, and raise her as her own after her biological mother was gone. Legal experts were brought in, a will was prepared, papers were signed. Then, a year ago, this little girl from Nigeria became the nurse’s very own child to raise.
Today the girl is seven years old, beautiful and thriving. She calls the nurse “Mommy”; she and her adoptive-mom’s-biological-daughter’s-toddler-son are as thick as thieves. And she fits right into her new life. She’s backed by the entire department of oncology at the hospital, where doctors and nurses have pooled their money to pay for clothes and lessons.
So much can change in a small span of time. For this nurse, it began as a workplace encounter with a young woman who’d crossed the ocean with a tragic history. Now she has a daughter for life. I only spent a few minutes with this lady, but I have a feeling I’ll reflect on her story for a long time to come.