So it was a surprise to me when, six months later, Rachel approached me with a request to secure the services of my lawyer friend, saying she needed his help in arranging an adoption. She wanted to adopt an orphan girl who had grown up with an out-of-state family and she wanted it done quickly. When I sought to understand the circumstances, especially the need for urgency, Rachel told me an unexpected story. Apparently she had had a last-minute bedside conversation with David before he died. He told her that he had, unknown to Rachel, had an affair with her best friend, who had quietly gone out of town and given birth to a girl. The girl had then been growing up with the friend’s sister’s children in rural Pennsylvania. David had a strong sense of guilt for not having looked after the daughter well, let alone acknowledge her, had confessed his lapse to Rachel and begged her to do something about the girl.
I told Rachel that it was good of her to want to give the girl a loving home and asked if she was quite clear in her mind about adopting David’s love child with her best friend. She paused and impressed me with her firm response. Yes, she was certain that she wanted to adopt David’s child and she felt she could lovingly bring her up and give her every opportunity.
“You see,” she added, “I listened to David and promised him that I would take care of the child. But there wasn’t time enough to tell him what I wanted to tell him at that point. Well, Peter wasn’t David’s son. He was the unexpected result of a fleeting relationship I had with his brother when David was out of the country. I could not bring myself to divulge it to him earlier, and then there just wasn’t the time.”