He didn’t exactly smile when we shook hands

In fact, I was a bit intimidated by the presumably 6″4′ young black teenager I was meeting. I was in the very small kitchen of a very small house right in between Kingshighway and Martin Luthur King Dr. The walls had been patched with cardboard to keep out the cold. Five African Americans were wondering what the heck I was doing there. Not exactly where you would normally find a tall, very white, very middle class woman in her minivan.

I figured out pretty quickly why he was upset. His girlfriend had to leave St.Louis because she didn’t have a safe place to stay. She was pregnant with his baby. I was taking her to Springfield to a new maternity home that had space for her. He had never been out of St. Louis. There wasn’t a shelter in St. Louis that had space for her. To him, I might as well have been taking her to the edge of the world.

He started drilling me with a million questions at once.

Will she be able to come back to St. Louis?

Will they let the daddy of the baby come see her? That’s me.

What is this place again?

We want to get married. Can we still do that?

Can we call each other?

Our baby shower is in March. Can we still have it then?

Will they give her food and take care of her? She hasn’t really had no heat or hot water in awhile.

She don’t have a lot of money. Does it cost?

I want to take care of both of them right now but you know, I can’t just yet.

When he figured out I was very much on their side and was there to help, this hard, young man from very rough background softened before me as he turned to say goodbye to his girlfriend. I left them alone and headed to the driver’s side but caught a glimpse of something so tender in the rear view mirror. I saw this intimidating young man carefully  bend down to take his tiny girlfriend into his arms while they stood shivering in the cold. I saw him start tearing up as he tried one more time to get her stay, and for her to tell him this was what they had to do right now. As we drove away, I saw him grab his cell, and then I heard her cell phone ring as he called to tell her he would try to talk to her everyday and that he was going to find where the nearest bus station was.

I was so happy to be able to finally help one of the girls that I keep getting phone calls for. Here was a maternity home that had just opened up its first phase and they actually had space for this young lady. But I have to admit it broke my heart to take this young woman far away from everything she had ever known. Sometimes that’s a good thing. But sometimes, when you actually see a young man wanting to be a good daddy, well, you have to wonder how it’s going to work when his girlfriend is so far away.

It was just one more reason to keep pushing towards getting The Sparrow’s Nest opened. We are blessed to be able to have maternity homes in Missouri who want to work together for these babies and their young mamas. But do we really have to send one of our own away? Shouldn’t we try to keep these young families together and mentor everyone involved around this precious little baby?

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