A boy would come to the playground every evening to do his homework, no matter the weather outside. His neighbors always noticed him there and would often question why his parents would allow him to stay out at night to study.
One day, Abigail, who lived nearby, decided to approach him. It shocked her that he was sitting in the rain with just a light jacket on while reading a book.
She went out with two pairs of umbrellas. “What are you doing out here, young boy? The rain is getting stronger by the minute,” she asked.
The boy looked at her sadly. “I wish I could go home, ma’am, but I can’t. My mom is busy, so she tells me to stay out here every night until she’s done,” he revealed.
Abigail was shocked that the boy’s parents would leave him outside for hours regardless of the weather. She decided to do something about it by inviting him inside her house. “Come on. Have dinner with my family and me,” she said, handing her the spare umbrella she was carrying.
The boy smiled and looked at her gratefully. “Thank you so much. I haven’t had a good dinner in a while. My name is Antoine,” he said as he got up from the park bench.
“You can call me Aunt Abigail,” the kind woman responded. “You’re doing homework, right?” she asked him.
Antoine nodded. “Yes, I’m almost done with my homework, but I am quite hungry,” he admitted.
Abigail set another place for Antoine at the table when they got inside. She served fried chicken and spaghetti for dinner, which delighted the young boy. He ate alongside Abigail’s husband, James, and their grown-up son Peter.
Once James and Peter were done, they left to watch a ball game on TV. Meanwhile, Abigail kept Antoine company on the dining table and proceeded to ask questions.
“What does your mom do, Antoine? Why is it that you can’t be home when she’s busy?” she asked.
“Well, my mom is looking for a new husband. She refuses to have me at home when she has guests over,” Antoine revealed.
Abigail immediately felt sorry for Antoine and offered him an alternative. “It’s dangerous to be out in the dark every night. You never know what’s lurking outside, and the changing weather could get you sick. If you want, you can come and visit me every day and do your homework here. I can prepare you dinner, too.”
Antoine was in tears. He never expected anyone to offer him any help. “Thank you, Aunt Abigail. I appreciate it. I noticed all the neighbors looking at me every time they passed the park, but no one ever offered to help. Thank you,” he said.
Since then, Antoine would visit Abigail daily. He would have dinner and finish his homework on the table. Sometimes, when he could not understand his teachers’ instructions, he would ask his Aunt Abigail for help.
One particular night, Antoine said goodbye only to knock on Abigail’s door again after a couple of minutes.
“What happened, sweetheart? Why are you back here?” Abigail asked.
“My mom won’t let me in the house,” Antoine said, crying. “I kept knocking, but she wouldn’t answer. I have nowhere else to go,” he cried.
Abigail didn’t hesitate to let Antoine in. She prepared the guest bedroom for him to sleep in and tucked him in at night. “Don’t worry, sweetheart. Everything will be okay. You get a good night’s sleep, alright?” she said before shutting the door.
That night, however, Abigail couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t imagine ever leaving her son out with nowhere to go. “Maybe his mom left and didn’t return home. She should be back tomorrow,” she told her husband.
“I think it’s time you talk to his mom. She’s being irresponsible leaving her kid out to fend for himself alone,” James advised.
“You’re right. I’ll take him to his house myself when he wakes up.”
The following day, Abigail took Antoine back to his house to have a word with his mom. However, it wasn’t her mother who opened the door, but a man Antoine didn’t know.
“What brings you here?” the man asked.
Before Abigail could say anything, Antoine’s mom rushed to the door. “This is my neighbor and her son! They’re always pestering me every morning,” she said, lying. And before Abigail and Antoine could say anything else, the woman slammed the door in her own son’s face.
Abigail was in shock at the abuse Antoine was experiencing. However, she didn’t want him to feel any worse, so she took him back to her house, where she told him she would talk to his mother later.
However, before she could go back to Antoine’s house, his mother came knocking on her door. “Can I ask you for a favor?” she quickly asked.
“And what might that be?” Abigail replied. She was both irritated and disappointed at the amount of neglect Antoine’s mom was showing him.
“Since you and my son get along so well, can you pretend he’s yours? He can stay here since you’re already taking care of him anyway,” she suggested.
Abigail could not believe what she was hearing. “How can you just let go of your son like that? He’s YOUR son!”
“I can’t live with my son anymore. I started dating someone new, and he doesn’t like children. You don’t mind, do you?” she asked.
Abigail was starting to love Antoine, but she knew her boundaries. She was not going to tolerate an irresponsible parent, especially at the expense of a young child. “This isn’t right at all. I’m not going to do that,” she said.
Antoine’s mother shrugged. “Well, then I guess I’m going to have to send him to an orphanage,” she said so calmly that Abigail was appalled at her heartlessness. She could not even begin to imagine how a woman could treat her own son that way.
That night, Abigail consoled Antoine, who was starting to understand that his mother did not want to be with him.
After his mother left that day, Abigail realized she didn’t have the heart for the kind boy to be placed in an orphanage. So she decided to talk to her husband about letting Antoine stay at their place.
“Sweetheart, I just want you to know that you are more than welcome to stay here with us, okay? From now on, our home is your home, too. Your mom…” Abigail started, slowly explaining the situation to Antoine.
“I know. She abandoned me,” he said in tears.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. It’s nothing a sweet nine-year-old boy like you should be experiencing. Don’t be disheartened. We are your family as well,” Abigail said, hugging him.
Six months since Antoine officially moved in, Abigail was convinced she didn’t want to return him to his biological mom. Not only did she and James grow to love him as their own, but she realized he would not have a good life if he returned to her. So she went to a judge to request that the woman’s parental rights be terminated. “She abandoned her son!” she reasoned.
After a gruesome process, Abigail’s request was granted, and Antoine was considered an orphan. However, to make sure he never has to live without parents again, Abigail asked him if he wanted to become part of their family officially.
“Would you like to live with us officially?” she asked the young boy one day. “We would like to become your parents if you’d have us.”
The boy, who loved Abigail, James, and even Peter, was ecstatic. “Of course! You’re so much closer to me than anyone else who has ever been in my life. I’ve never felt more at home, and I’ve never felt more love than you’ve shown me. Thank you for treating me like your own son,” Antoine said.
Everything was going well for the happy family until one day, the wayward mom came back for her son. “He dumped me,” she revealed.
Both Abigail and Antoine were unfazed, but she kept talking. “You can come back home now,” she told her son.
Antoine looked at her angrily. “You can’t just come to get me at any time you please. My home is here. And you’re not my mom anymore. She is!”
“Go away. You’re not welcome here,” Abigail said, shutting the door on her face the same way she closed the door on her son a year back.