A man who desperately wanted a family discovered that he and his wife could not have a child, yet they did not want to adopt. However, everything changed when he had to save a person he cared deeply about.
“I’m so sorry, Mr and Mrs Gilmore.” They went through the artificial insemination procedure several times, which weakened Mrs Gilmore’s body, but none of it helped. “I am an expert in this field, but I suggest you take some time and think about other options. There are many ways to start a family,” Dr Singer told a frustrated Alex and Stacey.
They walked out of the clinic in shock and calmly got into the car. However, after spending a few minutes behind the wheel, Stacey broke the silence.
“Alex, the doctor is right. There are other ways to start a family,” she began cautiously. “Adoption is a great option. Incest and genetics don’t matter when it comes to starting a family.”
“No,” Alex said firmly, shaking his head. He was adamantly against the idea. “I want to have a real family. It’s been my dream. I’ve never had one of my own.”
“The person you love most in the world, apart from me, is Mrs Collins. You think of her as your mother, but she’s not your own. How can you say you have no family?” – Stacey replied angrily.
“It’s not the same.”
Alex was an orphan, going from one orphanage to another. He hated it and promised himself that he would have his own family in the future. Stacey knew this; she felt terrible and guilty that she hadn’t been able to cause him to have this dream.
“Please, Alex. We need to explore other options. Surrogacy is another option,” she continued, even though the idea displeased her.
“It’s not the best option either. It’s too expensive and we’ve already spent too much,” Alex refused again.
Finally, Stacey lost her patience. “What else are we going to do? Adoption and surrogacy are our only options!”
“I don’t know!” – he shouted back, and they fell back into an awkward, uncomfortable silence. It didn’t get any better.
“Alex, you know Stacey’s right. Adoption is probably going to be amazing for you,” Mrs Collin gently told him off. Alex visited her a few days after the doctor’s visit and told her about the situation.
“I know, Mrs Collins. But it was my dream,” he whined, laying his head on the kitchen table. They drank tea.
“Alex, listen to me. Dreams change, and sometimes the result is even better than expected. When I became a teacher, I never expected to be so close to one of my students, but here you are. I think of you as my son. Like my family. And you?” – Mrs Collins asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Please, Mrs. Collins. I love you. Yes, you’re the only mother I’ve ever had, but this… different,” Alex continued, shaking his head and feeling terrible.
“I know you’re sad, but are you ready to lose Stacey over this? Because there just aren’t any other options?” – his teacher added softly.
“No, I don’t want to lose her, but I’m not prepared to consider other options. There has to be another way,” Alex said, and Miss Collins sighed. Then they changed the subject.
A few days later Alex got a phone call that he had in no way expected. Mrs Collins’ house was engulfed in flames and he asked his companions to rush to the scene. The flames engulfed the building too quickly and he climbed out of the truck and wanted to run inside like a superhero.
“What are you doing?” – Shouted his colleague Marcus, stopping him.
“I have to go in!” – Alex said, his heart racing with fear. According to him, when he joined the fire brigade after training, he was stoic and calm. All their dangerous and frightening situations were a mere trifle to him. It was his calling. But this time… it was different. It was Mrs Collins’ house, and she was inside.
“You can’t. We have to check the situation first.”
“Help, help, help,” came the women’s shouts, and Alex didn’t want to listen to anyone. He threw himself into the flames like a conquering hero, as if he couldn’t feel the heat. He ran up to Mrs Collins, covered her with his jacket and walked out.
“She needs a doctor! Quick!” – he shouted to the ambulance that had just arrived.
“Alex, you have to go inside. There’s a little boy in there. Tim. I’ve been tutoring him. Please, he’s only eight years old!” – Mrs Collins sobbed, distraught with worry.
Alex raised his eyebrows and looked back at the house.
“He was in the bathroom!” – Mrs Collins said. Despite her panic, she reassured him, and the fireman hurried back into the house. His colleagues had already used the hose and tried to contain the fire, but it was still dangerous to go inside. But he could not let the child die.
He ran back into the house, went into the only bathroom Mrs Collins had, and heard the screams of a small child. He told him to step away from the door and kicked it open with his boot. The boy was frightened, but he held out his arms and Alex pulled him out as quickly as he could. He immediately approached the paramedics outside and asked them to help the child; he then helped his colleagues tackle the fire.
Eventually the fire was contained, but the house was almost completely destroyed.
“It doesn’t matter. Everything that matters to me is right here with me,” Ms Collins said when he told her it was unlikely anything had survived the fire. “Alex, this is Tim, I teach him every day and sometimes he just comes to have lunch with me after school.”
“Nice to meet you, Tim,” Alex said, nodding at the boy who was looking at him with his bright, adoring eyes.
“Thank you! You saved us! You walked through the fire like a hero! How did you do it?” The boy was excited and Alex laughed for the first time since he got the call. It was good to know the boy wasn’t traumatised.
“Well, you’ll be able to join the group one day, Tim,” he said with a smile.
Miss Collins pulled him aside and told him that Tim had been in the same situation as Alex when he was a child. He had lived in an orphanage where he was hardly cared for and had been trying to live with Mrs Collins for a while.
Alex looked at his teacher, frowning, but nodded. “It’s wonderful that you’re doing this for him. He’ll appreciate it.”
Mrs Collins shook her head. “You’re not listening to me. I think of you as a son, but Tim is like a grandson to me now. You two are my family, dear. You don’t have to be related to someone to consider them family. A real family doesn’t know genetics. You just look after each other and love each other. You look out for each other. Every day.”
Alex’s eyes reflected all his pain. “You know what I want, Mrs. Collins.”
“You wouldn’t have saved me if you didn’t love me like a mother, would you? I’ve heard colleagues say that it’s not safe for you to rush in this way,” his teacher continued. “You also rushed to save Tim because you love children. You can love anyone as long as you open your heart. He needs someone – maybe a couple – who can open their heart and love him as their own.”
The fireman bit his lip and looked at Tim, who was talking excitedly to the other firefighters. His gaze returned to Miss Collins and he smiled.
A few months later …
It was Christmas, and Alex was sitting at the dinner table enjoying a fantastic dinner prepared by his wife. But they weren’t the only people present. Mrs Collins was there. Her house needed a complete overhaul and it wouldn’t be ready for much longer. In the meantime, she had moved in with Stacey and Alex.
And another special person was there: Tim. The boy couldn’t wait to start eating Stacey’s mashed potatoes.
“Hold on, dear. Slow down or you’ll choke,” Stacey warned him with a laugh.
Tim only grinned and took something else from the table. He loved it when Stacey cooked, but most of all he loved being with them.
Alex and Stacey had talked after the fire and decided to become foster parents for Tim. However, it was completely different to what he had experienced before. They loved this child very much and wanted to start the adoption process as soon as possible.
Tim had changed their whole life. Their house had always been hectic, disastrous, noisy and now full of toys. He couldn’t have asked for more. He was happier than ever and with Mrs Collins he felt like he had a big family.
Stacey was happy too, and having Alex change his mind saved their marriage. Mrs Collins was right. Some dreams had changed, but even better than what Alex had ever wished for.