Matt didn’t usually feel scared…. It wasn’t in his nature, not when he spent long hours on the rooftops of Hell’s Kitchen.
But when he heard Foggy’s whoops, cheering about the adoption approval, Matt could honestly say that he was terrified.
As the sounds of children playing got closer, Matt could feel sweat building up on the palms of his hands, making his stick slippery as he tapped his way up the stone steps.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” he asked
Foggy groaned theatrically at Mat as he gently ushered his husband towards the local orphanage. “We’ve been together since law school, we live together and now that we actually have a nice, spacious apartment, equipped with baby room, a seedling is the final step!”
Smiling at the enthusiasm in Foggy’s voice, Matt nudged the other man in the side. “You know… most people wait for a time after marriage, before having a… seedling?”
“Not Susie, don’t you remember? Less than two months after getting married, she had the kid…. Our way is way more sensible.”
“Well, avocados have seeds… it made sense in my head okay?! Now, the papers have been approved, despite their initial concerns about two men raising a kid, so all we to do is meet the children and make a decision.... it is just me, or is the adoption process just like shopping?”
“You can’t call it that Foggy!” Matt chuckled, as Foggy gently coached him up the stairs (despite Matt not actually needing any help) “I remember being in an orphanage and trust me… shopping centres are better.”
As Foggy opened the large doors to the orphanage, Matt winced when the sounds of crying, screaming and laughing children hit his ears. The smell of full diapers, vomit and paint caused him to gag slightly as he took some time to dial everything down.
Foggy, however, had clearly noticed the wincing…. And the fact that Matt had stopped right in the middle of the entrance. “Hey, you okay?”
“W-we can forget about this if you want? I can cancel the appointment and we can come back another day?”
Matt sighed softly…. Foggy sounded like he really didn’t want to go home and give up now. “No, no… just let me adjust.”
The pair waited outside for a few minutes before entering the large building and striding over to the receptionist’s desk.
“Hi, we have an appointment with a Miss Hayley Marks?” Foggy greeted the young lady at the desk, who glanced at Matt for a brief second before plastering an overly happy smile on her face and nodding eagerly.
“Of course. If you would just wait here whilst I call for her?”
They nodded, moving to sit in the waiting room. Minutes passed by, and Matt began to focus on a single cry, coming from up ahead and slightly to the left.
“Do you hear that?” he asked Foggy, keeping his voice low so as not to be over-heard.
“The baby? Yeah, I feel like it hasn’t stopped to breathe in the last five minutes.”
The pair continued to listen to the crying, until they were approached by a middle-aged lady.
Foggy helped Matt to his feet, before shaking the lady’s hand. “I’m Mister Nelson and my partner here is Mister Murdock…. We decided not to hyphenate.”
Matt smirked at this. He’d personally wanted to hyphenate their names, wanting to partially adhere to traditional marriages by sharing a name with his husband.... not that he ever really vocalised these thoughts.
“I understand…” The lady, who was probably Miss Hayley Marks, answered, “… now, if you would just like to follow me, I can introduce you to some of the children. Do you have an age preference?”
Matt and Foggy nodded, but as they were led further down the hallway, Matt found himself drawn the room that seemed to contain the crying baby.
“Ummmm, excuse me?”
“Yes, Mister Murdock?”
Gesturing at the room with his cane, Matt continued, “That baby has been crying for a while now. Isn’t there anyone who could calm him down?”
There was a sad sigh, “We’ve tried…. But at this time of the day, he just continues to cry. We’ve tried everything.”
She then led them into the room, which Foggy described to Matt, whispering in his ear so that Matt had a good idea of where everything was.
According to the description, the walls were a light blue and the cot was in the centre of the room. Any toys that there were, were stored in the corner of the room (less of a tripping hazard for Matt). As they wandered up to the cot, Matt clearly heard Foggy’s heart-beat skip slightly.
“What is it Foggy?”
“…. He’s so tiny…. How is he making that much noise, he’s tiny.”
“What does he look like?”
“…. Ummmm, like every other baby. He looks like he’ll have brown hair though, but I’m not sure about his eyes, they’re scrunched up pretty tightly.”
“So sad…” sighed Miss Marks, as Matt and Foggy turned in her direction, “… his parents signed him over just over a week ago.”
“Couldn’t afford to keep him?”
“Quite the opposite. They had nice suits on, their car was nice…. But they considered him to be…. Imperfect.”
Miss Marks gently stroked the boy’s hair, soothing him as his eyes slowly opened. She then waved her hand over his eyes and Foggy (who was relaying these actions back to Matt) noticed that the baby’s eyes did not follow the movement.
“He’s blind!” gasped Foggy in shock, causing Matt to flinch slightly.
“The nerves behind his eyes didn’t develop properly, so he was born blind…” Miss Marks explained, “… his mum and dad must have kept him for a few weeks before finding the task of caring for him too difficult. They didn’t even seem to care that they were signing over a human life!”
The baby seemed to miss the gentle touch, and started to scream once again.
It was then, that Matt came to a realisation. “It’s too loud….” He whispered.
There was a brief moment of silence, before Foggy clicked his fingers and gasped. “His hearing….” Began Foggy, “… he’s more aware of what he’s hearing, making it seem louder to him. The children playing and the sounds of everything going on around him are overwhelming… no matter where you place him. Mat has the same problem sometimes.”
“So, maybe a specialised room or some form of ear plugs would help?” Hayley asked, understanding dawning in her voice.
“To some degree yes, but- “
Foggy paused as Matt rested his cane against a nearby wall and gently lifted the baby out of the cot, cradling him against his chest. Matt then began to rock, listening as the shrieks began to quieten until they finally tampered off.
Eventually, the baby’s heartbeat slowed down until it became clear that the boy was asleep. Once he was sure, Matt placed him back in the cot and grabbed his cane. “Shall we?”
Foggy took his partner’s arm again as they were led out of the room.
“I think you surprised her.” Muttered Foggy under his breath, as he took a hold of Matt’s arm, following the flustered social worker down the hall and into the main playroom.
“… I surprised myself.”
Meeting the other children was nice…. Forget nice, it was amazing.
After Matt’s show of parental affection, Hayley had seriously warmed up to the pair.
“You know…” she began, as there was a moment of quiet in the room, “… if you want to spend more time with the baby in room four, you are very welcome to.”
Foggy’s heartbeat sped up slightly at this.
“Y-You haven’t referred to him by a name yet…” stammered Foggy, “… doesn’t he have one?”
There was another sad sigh from Miss Marks.
“His parents didn’t seem to bother… I mean, there must be a name on his birth certificate, but we don’t have access to that. When they signed him over, they referred to him as “boy” and refused to give us his true name.”
She shuddered, “I hate to think about what might have happened if he’d remained in their custody any longer.”
Knowing that Foggy was probably thinking the same, Matt frowned…. There were too many negative connotations with that particular train of thought.
The trio left the play-room and wandered back down the hallway, heading towards the reception area…. Not that Foggy and Matt made it there…. They stopped inside room 4.
Matt listened as the baby’s breathing sped up, indicating that he was waking up and getting ready for another screaming fit. Before the baby could start crying, Matt reached into the cot and gently tapped his fingers against his belly, softly humming as he did so.
To Matt’s joy, the baby started to giggle…. As did Foggy.
“Are you really humming the Ducktales theme?”
Matt chuckled, “It’s the first thing that came to mind.”
From the doorway, Hayley spoke up. “Would you two like to schedule some supervised visits with him? I think…. You three would be good for each other.”
Once again, Foggy’s heartbeat sped up slightly.
“I think that would be a great idea….” Matt answered, when Foggy remained silent, “… Can we set that up?”
When Miss Marks eagerly agreed and rushed out of the room to grab the paperwork, Foggy wandered over to Matt.
“Are you sure about this?” he asked, “Taking care of a blind baby is going to be difficult.”
“Ah-ha, but why shouldn’t we give him the same chance as other children? We know how to deal with blindness, we can help him…. And you really like him.”
“Yeah… yeah, I do.”
It took several more visits over the next couple of months before the baby got used to them and the paperwork was signed. The room in the flat was all painted up, with suitable toys and a cot all ready, Foggy and Matt were ready to take him home.
They entered the orphanages with all the necessities they might need for the journey home, including a pram and a bag of diapers.
Foggy couldn’t be more excited.
“This is it!” he exclaimed, practically jumping up the steps.
Matt chuckled as he felt his arm jostle up and down due to the excitement Foggy was feeling. “I know, I know!” he laughed as they walked down the hallway to room four.
As they got closer, he couldn’t help but overhear Hayley cooing softly to their soon-to-be-son.
“There we go little one, one foot in… and now the other one…. There’s a good boy! Oh, what have you heard?”
Matt grinned to himself and began to tap his stick harder against the floor, in order to make it louder, until they reached the doorway.
“Ah, that’s what you heard!” chuckled Hayley as she picked up the baby, who was now waving his arms around, as if searching for a familiar touch. “It’s very nice to see you two. Everything is ready at home as well I presume?”
Foggy gently lifted the baby from Hayley’s arms, cooing at him as they made their way into the main reception area. After placing him in the cot, Foggy went to fill out the adoption certificate.
“I was wondering…” he began, causing Matt to raise an eyebrow, “… would you like to call him Jack?”
Matt felt as if all the breath had left his body. “W-what?”
He could hear Foggy shift uncomfortably. “Well, I know we wanted to wait until everything was definite before giving him a name, and I thought it would be nice to honour your Dad’s memory, what do you think?”
Matt thought to himself for a few moments before shaking his head. “D-do you mind if we have it as a middle name?”
“… Can I ask why?”
“I-I don’t want to start comparing him to my Dad.” He held up his hand as Foggy drew in a quick breath to protest, “I know it’s unlikely, but I’m worried that it might happen.”
“… Alright, so what do you want to name him?”
Again, Matt paused to think…. Until he came to a decision. “How about Joseph.”
Foggy hummed and aahed to himself, before he agreed and wrote it down on the paper. “Joseph Jack Nelson-Murdock. I like it.”