Upon arriving at the maternity hospital in the evening amidst contractions, my husband and I eagerly awaited the arrival of our fourth child. With our family already deemed “hopelessly large,” the unexpected possibility of twins, despite no family history, had become a running joke after our second and third boys turned out to be twins. Thankfully, an ultrasound during the second screening provided clarity, and we could determine whether it was another set of twins.

However, our fourth child arrived as a single baby, relieving us of uncertainties. We were settled in a private single room that we had prepaid. Later, when they brought my baby for feeding, the chief doctor entered with a concerned expression, revealing an unexpected development.

He explained that an 18-year-old woman had given birth to a girl earlier that morning but refused to accept the baby, promptly calling a taxi and leaving the maternity hospital despite her weakened state. The baby, remarkably beautiful and healthy, was now without a caretaker.

Recognizing our desire for twins and our empathy for the baby’s fate, the doctor proposed the idea of us taking the baby, considering that legally, I had given birth. However, the thought of consigning the baby to an orphanage was heartbreaking, and the official adoption process, while an option, would take months and offer no guarantee of approval, leaving the baby in limbo.

Despite the delicate nature of the proposal, it was presented to me by the head nurse, Lyubov Stepanovna, whom I knew well and had a friendly relationship with, both within and outside the maternity hospital. Perhaps it was this familiarity that prompted her to broach the subject with me.