This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
This story is copyright by Owen Hudson, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
Dreams Don't Grow on Trees
"Thanks," Cody said when Haden dropped him and Mark off at their house. "I really enjoyed the camping trip."
"I enjoyed it too," Haden said.
"Hey, Mark, get back here and thank Haden for taking us camping," Cody called out as Mark ran toward the house."
"I gotta pee," Mark called back as he rushed toward the house. "Thanks, Haden."
"Adam and I'll help carry your things in," Haden offered.
"Mark and I can do it, but thanks anyway."
"Yeah, thank you for taking us camping," Adam said after moving from the back seat to occupy the front seat that Cody vacated. "I had fun."
"I believe we need to mow," Haden said when he pulled into the driveway.
"Sure, you can help."
"What can I do?"
"I think you're big enough to learn how to use the riding mower."
"Oh boy! Really?"
"I'll have to teach you how to use it first, and while you mow I'll use the weed eater. We'll unload our things after we mow."
After teaching Adam how to use the mower and watching him for a few minutes, Haden was confident that he could handle the rider. In a short time they had the mowing completed.
"I wonder where Amy and Dad are?" Adam said when they went in the house.
"I'm sure Amy is with Tony, but I have no idea where Dad might be."
"Hey, it's 1:00 o'clock."
"Alright, I'll fix sandwiches. We can shower after we eat."
"We showered this morning at the park."
"Yes, but we've been mowing and we're all sweaty."
"I want a soda, not milk," Adam said when he sat to eat his sandwich.
"You didn't have milk while you were camping. You're a growing boy and need your milk."
"Could we go ride our bicycles?" Adam asked after eating his sandwich.
"I need to review my notes for a test tomorrow. Why don't you read that book you got from the library?"
"I finished it."
"Yes, I can read now you know."
"I'll get my Kindle and we'll download one for you to read."
"I'm hungry," Adam said as he later put down the Kindle.
"It's after 6:00."
"Your watch works great when you're hungry. But I didn't realize it was this late."
"Why aren't Amy and Dad home?"
"I don't know, they probably had something to do after church."
"Do you think they'll come home?"
"This family isn't going to abandon you," Haden said as he gave his brother a reassuring hug, after realizing that Adam still had some insecurity about being abandoned.
"Are you sure?"
"Dad and Amy know that you're safe with me."
"Amy's home," Adam said as he ran to greet his sister. "Where's Dad?"
"He should be home soon," Amy said with a smile. "He and Rita went to Covington to see a movie."
"Oh, really?" Haden asked in surprise.
"Yes, at lunch after church, we were talking about movies when Rita mentioned that there was a movie in Covington she wanted to see. Nobody was interested and Dad said he'd go."
"I'm hungry," Adam again stated. "What's for dinner?"
"Tony and I got something to eat in town," Amy said. "Haden, why don't you go into town and pick up a pizza for you and Adam?"
"Call it in and I'll go pick it up," Haden said.
"Dad!" Adam yelled, dropping his slice of pizza on his plate running to give Darrell a hug. "We didn't know where you were."
"I went to see a movie with Rita," Darrell explained.
"Do you want some pizza?" Haden asked.
"Rita and I had dinner in Covington," Darrell said.
"Yeah, how was your date?" Haden teased.
"It wasn't a date," Darrell protested.
"It sounds like it to me," Haden countered.
"Look, Rita is still Adam's case worker, and until Adam's adoption is final, we were just friends from church who went to see a movie. And even that may be taking a chance."
"When will I be adopted?" Adam asked.
"Soon, I hope," Darrell said. "When you're adopted, do you want to keep your same name?"
"No, I want to be a Harrington too," Adam said.
"Do you want different first and middle names?" Darrell questioned.
"Those names are okay," Adam said.
"Hey, Haden, could I borrow your camera tomorrow?" Adam asked the next evening.
"Why do need to borrow my camera?"
"We get to go to the Zoo in Covington from church camp and I want to take some picture."
"My camera is kind of complicated for a ten year old, and it's an expensive camera."
"Well, I'll be eleven next month."
"Maybe you'll get a camera for your birthday."
"I want to be adopted for my birthday, like Mark was."
"That would depend on the court," Darrell said. "I would like nothing better myself. You may take my camera tomorrow. It's in the drawer of my nightstand. Go get it and I'll show you how to use it."
"Haden, you were asking what you should get Adam for his birthday," Darrell said while Adam was getting the camera. "Why don't you get him an inexpensive camera?"
"I was going to get him a Kindle," Haden said.
"I'll get him the Kindle and you can get the camera for Adam," Darrell said. "I've seen some at Wal-Mart for less than $50.00 that would be about right for him."
"I can afford the Kindle."
"Eventually your child support money will end the same as Amy's. No I'll get it."
"Is this the camera?" Adam asked when he returned.
"That's the one, come here and sit next to me and I'll show you how to use it," Darrell said. "It's a lot simpler than Haden's."
"Do I need to buy film?"
"No, it's a digital camera."
"What does that mean?"
"It means that you can download the pictures to your computer. Then you can e-mail them or print them yourself. Do you need money for tomorrow?"
"No, Father Jensen said not to bring money. He said they would have sandwiches and drinks for us."
"Haden, will you help me download my pictures to my computer when we get home?" Adam asked when Haden picked him up at the church the next afternoon.
"Sure, I'm anxious to see your pictures. We'll stop by Wal-Mart and get some photo paper. You can make extra copies and give them to Father Jensen."
"Yeah, that would be cool."
"So, I guess you like church camp now?"
"Yeah, it's fun. I'm glad I get to go."
"What did you like most at the zoo?"
"The baby zebra, it was so cute. I'd like to have one."
"What if the lions came and ate it?"
"We don't have lions here, they're in Africa."
"Didn't you see lions at the zoo?"
"Yeah, but they're in an enclosed space."
"You're too smart for me."
"Yeah, I am. Hee hee."
"Wow, Adam, these are really good," Darrell remarked when Adam showed him the pictures that he and Haden had printed. "Are these for me?"
"They're for Father Jensen, but I'll print some for you."
"Hey, Dad, I noticed that The Bank of Commerce in Covington had a For Sale sign at the church across the highway," Haden said.
"Paul said it was foreclosed by the bank," Darrell acknowledged. "Brenda moved out sometime last week."
"I'm glad she's no longer living close to us," Haden said.
"What happened to the preacher and his brother?" Amy asked.
"They're out on parole awaiting trial," Darrell explained.
Haden couldn't help feeling the pain of his previously dysfunctional family. However, his life had changed drastically for the better since Brenda was no longer part of the family. Darrell's divorce from Brenda had made him an even better father, and the addition of Adam had completed the family.
"Where are you going?" Adam asked the next Saturday afternoon when he saw that Haden was dressed to go out.
"Kyle, Cody, and I are going to see a movie in Covington," Haden explained.
"I want to go."
"It's an R rated movie."
"What does that mean?
"It means that you're too young to see it."
"Tony and I'll take you, Mark, and Justin to see a movie here in Sparks," Amy intervened. "There's a G rated movie showing."
"I have nothing to do, I can take them," Darrell offered.
"Tony had so much fun when we saw the movie with Adam in Covington, he'll want to go," Amy pointed out. "But you're welcome to go too."
"I think I will go," Darrell stated. "Adam, call Justin and ask if he wants to go. Amy, have you already talked to Tony?"
"No, but I'm sure he'll go, if not you and I will take the hoodlums to the movie."
"We're not hoodlums," Adam protested. "But you can call me what you want as long as we get to go to the movie. Do we get drinks and popcorn?"
"I think we can manage that," Darrell smiled. "Now go call Justin."
"Now that he's out of the room, his adoption is set for his birthday," Darrell said. "We could have it next week, but the judge agreed to do it on his birthday."
"Dad, what time?" Adam called out.
"The movie starts at 2:00, we'll pick Justin up at 1:30," Amy answered for Darrell.
"Linda and Steve have agreed to host a combination birthday and adoption celebration party at their house," Darrell explained.
"Hush, he's off the phone," Haden cautioned.
"Hey, did you know that Justin has a brother?" Adam asked.
"Yes, his brother Joe is in the army," Amy said.
"He'll be home Wednesday," Adam said.
"That's good news," Darrell said. "I'll be happy when Perry is discharged too."
"At least he's close by," Amy said.
"Yeah, but until he's discharged he could be sent back to Iraq or to Afghanistan," Darrell mused.
"Surely they wouldn't send him to a combat area with part of his foot missing," Haden said.
"Sure they would," Darrell said. "He may not be in direct combat, but he could be in a support area. And even that's dangerous."
"Did you tell Justin what time we'll be picking him up?" Amy asked.
"Oh, we don't have to pick him up," Adam said.
"Doesn't he want to go to the movie?" Amy asked.
"Yeah, he's going," Adam clarified. "His mom is bringing him out now because she's going shopping."
"That's Justin," Adam said as he rushed to answer the doorbell.
Ranger came running to the two boys with his ball ready for a game of keep away. The two boys eagerly obliged him.
"I can't stay long," Betty said when invited in. "As you know, Joe will be discharged and is coming home Wednesday. We're planning a cookout for him Saturday. We planned on having it at the park, but Lacey thought it would be better if we had it here down by the creek. Would that be okay with you?"
"Of course it would be okay," Darrell said.
"I plan to invite our regular gang, your family, the Millers, and the Holdens," Betty said.
"I'll be happy to help with the food," Amy offered.
"It isn't going to be anything fancy, just hamburgers and hotdogs," Betty explained.
"You'll still need help," Amy argued.
"Incidentally, Adam's adoption is the 14th," Darrell interjected. "He doesn't know it yet. His birthday is also the 14th. The Holdens are hosting a combination birthday and adoption party for him at their house. Your family is invited."
"I'd better not say anything to Justin if it's a surprise," Betty smiled. "That boy just cannot keep a secret."
"Dad, the church is on fire," Adam came rushing in yelling.
"Call 911," Darrell instructed as he rushed out the door, followed by Haden and the two younger boys.
"Wow, all three buildings are burning," Adam said when they reached the end of the driveway.
"This was no accident," Darrell said. "Someone started the fires intentionally."
"I bet I know who did it," Haden suggested.
"You're probably right," Darrell agreed. "I'm sure the fire marshal will do a thorough investigation."
"I don't know why they would burn it down though," Haden said. "They'll no longer get the insurance money."
"My guess is they're angry over the repossession," Darrell said.
"There's the fire truck," Justin said.
"Two of them," Adam added.
"I'm afraid they're too late," Darrell stated as the roof of the newly built dormitory fell in.
"There's Kyle and Cody," Adam pointed out as Kyle pulled into the driveway.
"We were afraid it might be your house," Cody said, as he and Kyle joined the growing group of onlookers.
"It looks as if the church, the dorm, and parsonage are all gone," Kyle said.
"It's sad that the buildings couldn't have been used for something useful," Haden said, more to himself than the others. "It is kind of good that they're gone though."
"It appears that they're going to let the fires burn themselves out," Darrell observed.
"We should be on our way to Covington," Kyle said. "It looks like the excitement is over here."
"Is Mark going to the Movie with Adam and Justin?" Haden asked as they drove to Covington.
"He's going, but I think he was disappointed that he couldn't go with us," Cody said. "He's at the age that he doesn't fit in with either group."
"I hadn't thought of that," Kyle said. "I forgot that he'll be in high school this fall."
"We'll think of something we can do with him," Haden said.
"Wow, this is a great picnic spot," Joe said when he arrived for his welcome home cookout.
"That's why I thought it would be better to have it here rather than the park," Lacey said.
"Yes, thank you Darrell for letting us have it here," Betty said.
"We're all family now," Darrell beamed. "You're welcome to come here anytime you like."
"Joe, what are your plans now that you're a civilian?" Paul asked.
"I took a few college courses while in the army," Joe stated. "I'd like to use my GI Education benefits and get my degree."
"What will be your major?" Rita asked.
"It may sound boring to most people, but I think I'll major in finance," Joe reported.
"It doesn't sound boring to me," Paul laughed. "Would you be interested in working part time while you're in college?"
"I sure would," Joe said. "The GI benefits are very helpful, but not enough to live on."
"Come by the bank Monday and we'll visit," Paul said.
"Mom, could I borrow your car Monday?" Joe asked.
"Sure, but you'll have to take me to work first," Betty said.
"I also need to look for a car to buy," Joe said.
"We have a few repos at the bank if you're interested," Paul said. "In fact, we have a low mileage Pathfinder. All you would have to do is pick up the payments. The owner didn't owe much, but he developed cancer and just couldn't afford the payments. I can't tell you off the top of my head the amount, but I know it's worth more than is owed on it."
"Sure, I'd be interested," Joe eagerly agreed.
"You can look at it Monday when you come in," Paul stated.
"The burgers are ready," Perry called out.
"Oh, boy," Adam yelled and came running out of the water, followed closely by Justin.
"I think we should let the guest of honor be served first," Perry said as Adam and Justin stood holding out their plate.
"Yeah, that's us," Adam giggled.
"Now, get out of here," Perry said as he placed a hamburger patty on the boys' plates.
"They're growing boys," Joe remarked.
"I know what you mean," Debbie said. "I'll soon have to buy new clothes for Mark."
"This has been great," Joe said as the gathering wound down. "Mom said this was a great group that seemed like one big family."
"Son, I've never seen your mom happier," Grant said. "These people have accepted us as one of them."
"Yeah, Dad, I can tell that she's happy," Joe agreed.
"You 'are' one of us," Debbie said.
"Why do I have to wear a necktie?" Adam asked the day of his adoption.
"Because it's your birthday and we'll be taking pictures? Amy said, without divulging the surprise.
"Why are we stopping at the courthouse?" Adam questioned.
"I have some business here," Darrell said. "We have to go inside to the courtroom, so we'll have to be very quiet."
The Harrington Family found seats in the gallery of the courtroom. "What are we doing here?" Adam asked.
Darrell placed his finger over his lip and quietly said, "Shhh."
Shortly, Steve arrived and sat next to Adam, giving him a reassuring smile. "We have a new judge," Steve whispered to Darrell. Her name is Rose Spencer and that's all I know about her."
The bailiff entered the courtroom and announced, "All rise, the Honorable Rose Spencer presiding."
A large, black woman entered and in a businesslike tone said, "Please be seated. Bailiff, please call the first case."
"The first case is the adoption of Adam Lee Woodson," The Bailiff announced.
"That's us," Steve said as Adam's mouth gaped open in surprise. Steve guided Adam and the remainder of the Harrington family to the counsel's table.
"I'm new to this case," Judge Spencer began. "However, that doesn't mean that I'm not familiar with it. I spent several hours reviewing the notes and records from previous hearings. I also understand that today was requested because it's Adam's birthday, is that correct?"
"That's correct, your honor," Steve stated.
"I assume you're Adam's attorney Steven Holden," Judge Spencer stated.
"Yes, your honor," Steve responded.
"Then this young man must be Adam Woodson," Judge Spencer said, and for the first time gave a friendly smile to Adam. "How are you this morning, Adam?"
"I'm good," Adam said, and then added, "your honor."
Judge Spencer chuckled and then said, "Well, happy birthday, Adam."
"Thank you," Adam said and then again added, "your honor."
"Mr. Holden you may call your first witness," Judge Spence said.
"I call Haden Harrington," Steve said.
A very surprised Haden went forward to take the witness stand and to be sworn in. "For the record, state your name," Steve said.
"Haden Ray Harrington," Haden said.
"What's your relationship to Adam," Steve began.
"He's my brother. Well, for now he's my foster brother."
"Would you want Adam to be your adoptive brother?"
"Yes, very much so."
"Tell us how you came to know Adam."
Haden explained how Adam had appeared at their house cold, dirty and hungry, and asking to 'borrow' some bread and peanut butter. He went on to explain how he had come to love Adam as a blood brother.
The next witness was Rita Holland. Rita explained how she was the caseworker, the circumstances of Adam's visit with his natural mother in jail, how Adam was progressing in school, and how the family had come to love him.
Judge Spencer did ask if Rita believed Adam's adoption was in his best interest. The answer was a very positive yes.
Darrell was the next witness. "For the record, state your name," Steve began.
"Darrell Ray Harrington."
"Do you want to adopt Adam Woodson?"
"Very much so."
"Do you understand that if you adopt Adam, you will be responsible for him the same as if he were your birth son?"
"Do you also understand that you will be responsible for the expenses of his rearing?"
"No more questions."
"I have a few questions," Judge Spencer stated. "Mr. Harrington, are you married?"
"No, your honor, I'm divorced," Darrell answered, while thinking, 'Oh, here's the roadblock'."
"Could you tell me what brought about this divorce?"
"My ex-wife physically attacked Haden."
"Was this a sever attack?"
"Yes, your honor, it required sutures and hospitalization."
"Had your ex-wife been abusive prior to this?"
"Not physically, but mentally she was to all of my children."
"Mr. Harrington, why do you want to adopt Adam?"
"Well, your honor, I love him the same as my other children. Also, my family needs him as much as he needs us."
"You may step down. Adam, I need to ask you a few questions. You may sit there with your dad. Do you want to be adopted by Mr. Harrington?"
"No, your honor, I want to adopt the family myself. I want Perry and Haden to be my brothers and Amy to be my sister. I want Dad to be my legal dad."
"You threw me there for a second, Adam," Judge Spencer said with a chuckle. "Let's let Mr. Harrington adopt you and then Perry, Haden, and Amy will be your siblings. Is that alright with you?"
"Yes, your honor."
"Adam, what name do you want to use?"
"Adam Lee Harrington."
"That's a fine name, Adam Lee Harrington," Judge Spencer said as she began to sign the adoption papers.
"Your honor, the family has requested that you pose with them for a picture," Steve said.
"I would be honored to have my picture taken with this fine family."
"Mrs. Holland needs to be in the picture too," Adam insisted as Steve prepared to shoot the photograph.
"Now, we'll all go to my house for a little celebration," Steve said as they exited the courtroom.
"Surprise!" Everyone yelled when Adam entered the room.
"I forgot that it was my birthday," Adam said when he saw the table with birthday presents.
"No, you didn't," Perry teased.
"I really did when I was being adopted," Adam argued.
"Help yourselves to the sandwiches and chips," Linda said. "We'll cut the cake later."
"Open your gifts, and then we can cut the cake," Amy said, after most of the sandwiches were consumed.
"I've never had a birthday party and cake before," Adam said.
"Then this one is special," Lacey said.
"Adam Harrington," Adam read the envelope of the first of many birthday cards.
"Which gift did you like best?" Justin asked after all of the gifts had been opened.
"My best gift was being adopted," Adam said without hesitation. "Thank you all for the other great gifts."
"Son, this was a gift to me and the rest of the family," Darrell said as he gave his son a hug.
"I was happy when I got adopted," Mark said.
"I guess I'll never get to be adopted," Cody said.
"It shouldn't be long now," Rita said. "The hearing to terminate your natural parents' rights is in two weeks. Once that happens we can proceed with the adoption process."
"I'll believe it when it happens," Cody stated.
"Son, Steve thinks that it will happen for sure," Paul said.
"That's right," Steve said. "They refuse to accept the fact that you're gay. They've also refused counseling, and have refused to even see you until you renounce being gay. The court will not look favorable toward them for refusing to cooperate."
"Cody, I've seen many of these cases and I'm positive that you'll soon be adopted," Rita said.
"Yeah, Cody, I never thought I'd be adopted, but I was," Adam said.
"I just want it to happen before I'm 18," Cody said.
"It will, I'm positive," Debbie said.
"Come on, Justin, let's go outside and fly my remote controlled helicopter," Adam said.
"I told Mom you'd like it," Justin said. "I told her to get you one like mine."
"You should have brought yours," Adam said.
"It's in the car," Grant said. "I knew you'd be wishing you brought it."
Later, Adam came inside with a sad appearance and said, "This mean old man took my helicopter and said I wasn't getting it back unless he got some birthday cake."
"That's right," Hal Campbell said as he opened the door while holding the helicopter.
"Hal, we didn't know you guys were back from vacation," Linda said. "Where's David?"
"He's on the phone, and will be over in a minute," Hal said.
"We had you fooled, didn't we," Adam giggled.
"Not for a minute," Linda laughed. "When you said mean old man, we knew it was Hal."
"Just for that, I get two slices of cake," Hal laughed.
"You don't even need one slice," David, who had entered the room, said.
"Sure I do, one for Adam's birthday and one for his adoption," Hal countered.
"Just have one piece and make it two slices," Adam said.
"He got you there," David laughed.
"Well, look who's here," Linda said.
"Father Jensen, Mrs. Jensen," Adam said, as he rushed to gave each a hug.
"I'm sorry that we're late," Lois Jensen said. "We were busy with the church camp."
"Would you like some cake? You can have two pieces," Adam said as he looked at Hal giggling.
"That's it, pick on the Lutheran," Hal joked.
"We can fix that, can't we Adam?" Father Jensen shot back.
"Yeah," Adam agreed. "Oh, how?"
"We can make him an Episcopalian," Father Jensen explained.
"Oh yeah," Adam agreed. "Am I an Episcopalian?"
"You will be when you're baptized," Father Jensen said. "See me Sunday and we'll get that scheduled."
"Mom, have I been baptized?" Justin asked.
"No, you haven't," Betty acknowledged.
"Hey, we could be baptized together," Adam said.
"Yeah, that would be cool," Justin agreed.
The summer progressed rapidly for the families. The beginning of school was upon them. "Dad, do I go to Ms. Lyla's after school this year?" Adam wanted to know.
"Do you want to go?"
"Not really, but if I have to, I'll go. Couldn't I just go home with Amy and Haden?"
"Haden only has one class at the high school and the rest will be at the college. Amy will be in nursing school."
"Then I guess I'll go. Ms. Lyla is nice, but it gets kind of boring."
"Justin is going to be in the Boys and Girls Club," Lacey said. "Maybe Adam would like that."
"I guess I don't know what the Boys and Girls Club is," Darrell acknowledged.
"It's an after school program, and they help kids with their homework," Lacey said. "They have other activities such as sports, crafts, and such too."
"How much does this cost?"
"Mom said that she will be paying $15.00 for the school year."
"That's very reasonable. We'll check that out. How do they do that for just $15.00?"
"They do it with volunteers, donations, and grants."
"I'll certainly make a donation for something like that."
"Dad, do I ride the bus to school tomorrow?" Adam asked during dinner the evening before the first day of school.
"Do you want to ride the bus?" Darrell asked.
"It doesn't matter to me. But how will I get to school if I don't ride the bus?"
"You'll ride with me," Haden said.
"I thought you were in college," Adam said.
"I have English at the high school the first hour before I go to my college classes," Haden explained.
"Don't they have English at the college?"
"Yes, but if I take advanced placement English at the high school I don't have to pay tuition," Haden explained. "It counts as both high school and college English."
"Then who will pick me up after school?"
"Haden has a Tuesday/Thursday schedule at the college, and he'll pick you up Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays," Darrell said. "I'll pick you up Tuesdays and Thursdays. Debbie will pick you up when I can't get away from work. Amy's schedule is such that she can't always be available to pick you up."
"Who will cook dinner?" Adam asked.
"I will on my days off from college," Haden clarified. "I'm sure we'll figure something out for Tuesdays and Thursdays."
"I'll put something in the crock pot on those days," Amy volunteered. "So you won't go hungry."
"Good," Adam said as he rinsed his plate and put it in the dishwasher. "What's for dessert?"
"Are you still hungry?" Amy asked.
"No, but if there's dessert, I want some."
"There's apple crisp."
"It's one of my favorites."
"Any food is your favorite."
"You got that right."
"Hey, Dad, could I buy Will Hall's go kart?" Adam asked a few days after the start of school.
"I don't think so," Darrell said.
"But, Dad, he only wants $350 for it."
"You don't have $350."
"Yes, I do."
"Where did you get $350?"
"It's money I've saved and my birthday money."
"First of all, you wouldn't get much of a go kart for $350, and second, I don't want you tearing up the lawn with one."
"I could ride it in the pasture."
"No, the pasture is leased."
"No buts, you can't have a go kart."
"I would be careful."
"The answer is no. In five years you'll be driving and wanting a car. You're going to need money for that."
"Man, that's going to be a long time."
"It'll be here before you know it.