The shift at the pool that night was uneventful and once again, I double checked the trash bins outside. Thankfully, Steven was not there. As I was getting into my car, another car was driving into the parking lot. It was not a car that I recognized. I waited to let them know that the pool had closed for the evening.
The car was a lemon and the lady that got out was a wreck. Both the car and the lady had seen much better days. I told her that the pool was closed and would reopen tomorrow morning at 6:00 am. She told me she was not here for a swim. She was looking for a Kevin Boothwell. I was surprised by this as I did not have any memory of meeting her before. I stayed by my car and let her know that I was Kevin. She walked very uneasily over to me and told me her name was Evelyn Free. Steven had talked about me and given his mom my name. This was the elusive Steven's mom.
This hit me like a ton of bricks. What I was thinking and what I did were thankfully not the same. I remained calm as I asked her what she wanted. She confirmed she was Steven's mom and she had lost track of him. Right then I wanted to yell and scream at her, but I thought the better of this, since it would not really provide any purpose. I told her of his meetings with me and that I had turned him over to Social Services after there was no one at his home for several nights. There was no response from her other than she turned snow white and looked like she was going to faint.
I suggested that we go to a local coffee shop to talk this through. We arrived at the shop and I ordered a coffee for Evelyn and a hot chocolate for me. I had never taken to the taste of coffee. Then I explained everything to Evelyn. What I thought was strange was the lack of real emotion in her, the entire time I was talking. It was like she wanted to hear what I had to say. I was confused to say the least.
I took a giant step at the end of the conversation by letting her know that Steven and I had really become good friends. She was not sure what that meant so I told her about him calling me dad and asking why I did not want him. Once again, no real emotion on her part. She told me she was getting tired and truth be told, I was too. We parted ways much more politely that I really felt. How could anyone just leave a 7-year old boy like that? It was too much for me to comprehend. Sleep did not come easily that night.
I was awakened with a knocking on the door. When I opened it, Steven was dragging his mom into my apartment. I looked around and there was no one else with them. I thought this was a bit strange. Steven was doing all the talking.
"Mom, this is the guy that I told you about. I want to live with him so he can be my dad. He already got me some new clothes and he let me sleep in my own room for three nights. Please mom, let him be my dad." I was almost in tears with this plea for his life. I invited the two of them to sit down in the living room. We talked about this and I did indicate that she could sign over his parent rights to me legally if she wanted to. I remembered that Mac Redmann had told me this was a possibility.
What happened next confirmed what I had been thinking for the past few days. Evelyn looked at Steven and me and said that it sounded like a great idea. She was definitely all for it. I resumed the discussion making sure she knew what she was doing. Nothing was going to phase her and none of this sounded problematic to her. She was more than willing to give up his rights to someone she hardly knew and only met last night. When she left, she took Steven with her.
I immediately called Mac and laid out what had just happened. When I got to the part about signing over the rights, I told her that it could not be that simple. I was wrong. As long as the parent is of sound mind and body, signs the papers of her own free will, and has a judge legalize them, it is a done deal. She was most adamant that I knew what I was doing. In rather blunt terms, she told me there was no sending Steven back a few years later. It was a decision that had lifelong consequences.
I made arrangements for Mac to come to my place and meet with Steven and his mom and me. I wanted to make sure there were going to be no unforeseen hurdles. We talked for about three hours and when it was all over, Steven and his mom left for their home. Mac then proceeded to grill me about my background, my reasons and most of all, my determination. I made it abundantly clear that I had thought this over and over and over before arriving at a decision. If it was possible, I was willing to take over as Steven's legal guardian for the rest of his life. She indicated that she was willing to take me on as a client and would do everything she could to make this a reality. She was honest by letting me know that there was no precedent for this sort of thing – it was all going to be a new road. What this meant, I could only imagine. Little did I know what was in store for my future.