My life was at the peak of bliss. What more could I ask for than a beautiful little nest full of love and warmth? I was blessed with my loving husband, William, and our three young children, who made my life happier and busier every day.
We weren’t very wealthy, but we always had reason to celebrate every little joy that came our way, and William’s twenty-seventh birthday marked another important day of celebration, fun and family time.
We organized a birthday party at our house and invited my in-laws, family and friends. Everything was going well. Laughter spread through our little house and joy filled our hearts when William made a toast.
That’s when my mother-in-law, Marla, stepped in and made another toast.
“To my two unborn babies!!!” she announced, and a grave silence filled the room. My 50-year-old mother-in-law was pregnant with twins by IVF.
William was extremely embarrassed. Some cheered and toasted my mother-in-law, while others started whispering things. My husband was visibly furious. I took his hand and motioned for him to remain calm.
“We can talk about this later, honey. People are watching,” I whispered.
I knew it would be hard for him to digest the news because we were planning to have another baby. While we were dreaming of becoming parents again, my husband was going to be a brother.
“Jessica, you don’t understand, how could Mom even do this? She’s fifty and soon to be fifty-one? How could she even…?” said William angrily. I was caught between my husband and his mother.
I knew my mother-in-law and her husband had been dealing with a relationship crisis for a long time. Perhaps she thought that having babies would heal and mend their differences.
I wasn’t sure, but I honestly felt sorry for my mother-in-law. I knew it wasn’t an easy decision she had made overnight. She must have thought it through, and she did it using all her savings.
Months passed, and a week after my mother-in-law’s fifty-first birthday, she gave birth to her twins. It was a complicated delivery, so I stayed close to her in the maternity ward.
Soon, all the pain and trouble she had endured turned to joy when she heard the cries of her two little babies.
She was the happiest, I could tell as I watched the endless tears of joy flowing from her eyes as she held her little ones. It made me cry too and I was so happy for her.
Then, suddenly, my phone rang. I could hear William sobbing, and then he stammered:
“Honey, honey, Daddy was in an accident. He died on the spot.”
“WHAT?”, I asked, dropping the phone and looking at my mother-in-law, who looked so happy cuddling her babies. How will I tell her that her husband just died? I cried outside the living room. But the truth had to come out one way or another.
A few days passed and my mother-in-law began to worry about her husband.
“Honey,” she called me. “Where’s David, why didn’t he come?”.
“Mom, let’s go home first,” William told her.
He was speechless after that. The truth was, we didn’t know how to tell his mother the truth.
We drove my mother-in-law and her babies back home and as we approached our home, our hearts began to beat faster.
My mother-in-law almost fainted after seeing the framed photo of her late husband surrounded by flowers, wreaths and candles. She understood that he was gone, never to return.
A few weeks passed, and as the deep grief eased a bit, my children and I became my mother-in-law’s pillars. We helped her care for her babies while she got through her postpartum problems.
Just when we thought things had calmed down a bit, my mother-in-law called me one day and said she wanted to share a secret. When I met with her privately, she first asked me to make her a promise.
“Jessica, would you adopt my babies after I die?” my mother-in-law pleaded in tears.
“What, why would you say that?”.
“Because I was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. I don’t have much time left,” she suddenly revealed.
I broke into pieces when I heard this. But that wasn’t all. My mother-in-law then revealed a terrifying secret that she and her late husband had kept from William throughout their lives.
“David and I thought our relationship would improve after we adopted William. It didn’t, but we loved our son too much. Even though it still bothered us that we couldn’t have children because of David’s infertility.”
“I knew it was a stupid idea, but I wanted to be a mother even though I was in my fifties, and hadn’t yet reached menopause. I wanted to have my own children, and IVF helped me.”
“I should have done it before, but the fear of society always haunted me. Then I realized that society wasn’t going through my pain…I was…so I took a chance.”
I was startled when I learned that my husband was my mother-in-law’s adopted son. Worst of all, he was unaware of this.
“How will I tell him the truth? Should I tell him and destroy his peace? Or will I take this secret to my grave?”, I pondered.
My mother-in-law broke my silence by begging me to promise her that I would take care of her babies after she died.
I already had three children, William had just started his new job, and our income was barely enough to cover our expenses.
Taking in her children would mean doubling the responsibility and expenses. It was hard for me to decide, but at the time, I couldn’t think beyond lending my shoulders for her to lean on.
“I promise you, Mom. I will raise your children as my own. I will be their mother, no matter what.”
I felt the obstacles ahead, but I was ready to face the challenge. I grew up in an orphan shelter and knew how difficult it was to live without the support and love of parents. Whatever happened, I wasn’t ready to give my mother-in-law’s children that dark life.
A few months later, my mother-in-law passed away due to her illness. I knew this would happen, but I was not prepared for it to happen too soon.
After she was buried next to her beloved husband, I decided to reveal the truth to William. I knew it would hurt him, but I had to do it.
“Honey, there’s something I want to tell you,” I began as I looked deeply into William’s teary eyes. It was obvious that he missed his mother very much.
“I promised your mother that I would adopt her babies. They need us. We have to raise them. We can’t abandon them, honey.”
At that moment, my husband hugged me tightly and began to cry on my shoulder. He told me that initially he had been jealous of his newborn siblings.
But after they lost their parents within a few months, he realized that those two innocent little lives needed him.
I had also decided to foster and raise them. My husband told me he was waiting to discuss this with me and ask my permission.
“My dear, I feel so blessed to have you. You taught me the true meaning of love. I felt ashamed when my mother had her babies. I didn’t understand her. But now I really miss her, and I would like to tell her how much I love her…” she told me crying.
I hugged William and sighed with relief. But there was still something nagging at my thoughts. Should I tell her he was adopted?
I promised myself that day that I would be a good mother to my five children and take the secret of my husband’s adoption to my grave.
That wouldn’t make a difference because love comes from the heart, not from DNA. He loved his late parents, and he didn’t want to ruin that as long as he lived.