Weve talked it over i said i began to worry a little

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“We’ve talked it over,” I said. I began to worry a little about what was going on here. “We love her. Maybe someday we will have more children, but not now. Now is so hard. We move around so much, we have 226 T H E B E A N T R E E S
nothing, no home.” Esperanza was sobbing. This was no act. Estevan handed her a handkerchief, and she held it to her face. “Try, Ma?” Turtle said. “That’s right, Turtle,” I said quietly. “She’s crying.” Estevan reached over and lifted Turtle out of her arms. He stood her up, her small blue sneakers set firmly on his knees, and held her gently by the shoulders and looked into her eyes. “You must be a good girl. Remember. Good and strong, like your mother.” I wondered which mother he meant, there were so many possibilities. I was touched to think he might mean me. “Okay,” Turtle said. He handed her carefully back to Esperanza, who folded her arms around Turtle and held her against her chest, rocking back and forth for a very long time with her eyes squeezed shut. Tears drained down the shallow creases in her cheeks. The rest of us watched. Mr. Armistead stopped fidgeting and Mrs. Cleary’s hands on her papers went still. Here were a mother and her daughter, nothing less. A mother and child—in a world that could barely be bothered with mothers and children—who were going to be taken apart. Everybody believed it. Possibly Turtle believed it. I did. Of all the many times when it seemed to be so, that was the only moment in which I really came close to losing Turtle. I couldn’t have taken her from Esperanza. If she had asked, I couldn’t have said no. When she let go, letting Turtle sit gently back on her lap, Turtle had the sniffles. Esperanza wiped Turtle’s nose with Estevan’s big handker- chief and kissed her on both cheeks. Then she unclasped the gold medallion of St. Christopher, guardian saint of refugees, and put it around Turtle’s neck. Then she gave Turtle to me. Esperanza told me, “We will know she is happy and growing with a good heart.” “Thank you,” I said. There was nothing else I could say. Soundness of Mind and Freedom of Will 227
It took what seemed like an extremely long time to draw up a statement, which Mrs. Cleary shuttled off to type. She came back and was sent off twice more to make repairs. After several rounds of White-out we had managed to create an official document: We, the undersigned, Mr. Steven Tilpec Two Two and Mrs. Hope Roberta Two Two, being the sworn natural parents of April Turtle Two Two, do hereby grant custody of our only daughter to Ms. Taylor Marietta Greer, who will from this day for- ward become her sole guardian and parent. We do solemnly swear and testify to our soundness of mind and freedom of will. Signed before witnesses on this———day of———, in the office of Jonas Wilford Armis- tead, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

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