“It’s not as bad as it looks,” Molly said, plopping the stack of papers she had been cradling down on the desk. The stack was easily four inches thick. “I think we only need about twenty signatures.”
“Only?” Eleanor asked, playfully.
“I know,” Molly agreed. “It’s ridiculous the paperwork The State requires. They could do away with half of it and have kids in homes in less than a month, rather than… How long has it been for you?”
“Eight months,” Elleanor replied.
“Consider yourself lucky,” Molly said, opening the top manila folder. “Most of the time, the process drags on for at least a year.”
Molly slid the first document Elleanor was to sign, across the table. “That’ll change, if I have anything to do with it,” she said.
As if on queue, Elleanor noticed the one framed item in the room, hanging behind Molly in a patch of low sky-blue sky. She recognized immediately the red a white coat-of-arms on the document—the three sheaves of wheat. Harvard Law?
“Scary, huh?” Elleanor heard Molly saying.
Elleanor turned to look at the girl, whom she guessed wasn’t even legal drinking age.
“I’ve got skeells, as they say,” Molly said, grinning silly.
“I’d say so,” Elleanor replied.
“Don’t worry,” Molly said. “I hope to use my super powers for good—not evil.”
“That’s reassuring,” Elleanor said.
“I’ve been through the process,” Molly divulged. “I didn’t have to sign a million papers, like you and my mom,” she said. “But I know all about waiting. And trust me; it can be just as hard on the adoptee as it is on the adopter.”
It was for that reason—and the slim possibility that her request would be denied—that from the beginning, Molly’s mother had instructed Elleanor to acquaint herself with Nicholas from a distance. “Sometimes it’s better to never have hope,” Heather Plageman had told her, “than to have hope and have it taken away.”
Elleanor stared at the diploma behind Molly’s auburn head. It’s all the same, she suddenly realized: birth and adoption. The Honeywell Home for Boys was just another womb; another dark place from which a child needs delivering. Bring the child into the world. Feed it hope and it will thrive.
“Do you need a pen?” Molly asked.
Elleanor started. “No… no,” she replied, and fished her ink pen from her purse.
“Good then. Let’s get started.”