But which one? When I offered to help little Lucia's biological mother reclaim her baby, I never dreamed it would bring aspiring single mother Lori Sumner into my life. But from the moment we met, my heart went out to this hard-working reporter who's been Lucia's foster parent for nearly three months and now wants to officially adopt her. Personally, I think she'd make a great mom. Which is why this lawyer is eager to start negotiating his own family 'settlement' with Lori. Mum's the word, sis--until the day I pop the question!
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August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from A Mommy in Mind by Arlene James
"So," Lori Sumner said, looking over her notes, "the official position of the agency is that marital status is secondary to placing the right child in the best home."
Pilar Estes Fletcher smiled, her dark hair an inky froth of curls about her pretty face.
"Absolutely," Pilar said, confirming Lori's assessment. Lori made a note, adding this latest detail to the research she was compiling for a story assigned to her by her employer, The Richmond Gazette. Originally the series of new Tiny Blessings stories were to have been written by the newspaper's star reporter, Jared Kierney. Unfortunately, a mining disaster in the far corner of the state had temporarily called Jared away. It seemed like a God-given opportunity to Lori, because, as a single woman with a strong desire for a family, she'd been thinking about the possibility of adopting a child herself, hence the focus of her story.
A sound at her back had Lori lifting her head. Pilar rose to her feet. "Can I help you?"
Lori glanced over her shoulder. A girl stood behind her, a pink bundle clasped against her chest. Small in stature and dressed in jeans and an oversized T-shirt, the girl appeared to be little more than a child. Obviously of Hispanic extraction, she rocked nervously side to side before lurching forward.
"Her name is Lucia," she announced in a thick, tear-clogged voice.
The next thing Lori knew, the girl bent and dropped the pink bundle into her arms! Notepad and ink pen scattered as Lori accepted the slight weight.
"I can't keep her!" the girl exclaimed, before lapsing into Spanish.
Pilar came swiftly around the desk and the two conversed for several minutes, but Lori neither saw nor heard them, her entire attention centered on the bundle that now moved in her arms. A tiny fist appeared, poking out of a small, fluffy blanket. Gasping, Lori stared as that tiny fist waved, and the edge of the blanket fell away, revealing a perfect little face, reddened and scrunched. A baby. Brand-new from the looks of her.
Lori's breath caught. She knew, knew, that God had brought her here today because of this infant, for this infant.
"Hello," she crooned. "Hello, my darling. Hello." eyes and whispered, "ThankYou, Lord. Oh, thankYou."
Lori rose to her feet as Ramon Estes strode into the understated luxury of the small waiting room, his long, purposeful strides lending an air of command to his demeanor.
Of Puerto Rican extraction and medium height and build, his face sculpted in aristocratic lines, the young attorney bore himself with grace, confidence and charm.
Confronted suddenly with the power of his presence, Lori wondered if it had been wise to come here on her own like this. From the instant that Yesenia Diaz had dropped her baby into Lori's arms, Lori had been certain that God had brought little Lucia to her. She'd never dreamed that Yesenia might change her mind, and she could not accept the idea of fighting a custody challenge in court when this could so easily be resolved by simple logic. Why hire legal counsel when it was so obvious that she was the best mother for the baby she was trying to adopt? Determined to make Ramon Estes and his client see that, Lori sent up a silent prayer, unconsciously lifting her chin.
Ramon inclined his head as if accepting a challenge. Even the man's thick, glossy black hair seemed tailored, from the meticulous side part to the neatly squared tips of his sideburns. Feeling unkempt and faded by comparison, Lori resisted the urge to smooth her plain brown hair and tug at the collar of the soft, mauve silk blouse that she wore with pleated gray slacks.
"Miss Sumner," Estes said in greeting, his accent delicately flavored with Spanish. Lori smiled wanly in return as he swept a hand toward the door through which he had just entered. "This way, por favor."
The Spanish, she felt sure, was a subtle but pointed reminder of the cultural divide between them, for she knew for a fact that Ramon was born in Virginia. He would soon learn that she had nothing but respect for the Latin culture with its strong work ethic, innate pride and emphasis on family. In fact, she counted several Hispanic friends among her most devout Christian brothers and sisters and even knew Ramon's own family from church and the Tiny Blessings Adoption Agency.