Widower Works 3 Jobs to Adopt Stepdaughter, Learns Bio Dad Stole Her from Shelter

Bernie lost his wife in a tragic accident, but he is determined not to lose his stepdaughter too. He does everything possible to ensure he will gain permission to adopt the girl, but then her biological father appears with a birth certificate and a criminal record. Bernie takes his pencil and quickly sketches a few lines and shapes on a spare sheet of paper. Once you have the basic shape, you can add in the details. Andrea, Bernie’s stepdaughter, scrunches her face up.

She is struggling to draw a fox lying on its side. “But I like drawing freehand, Bernie, and you’re very good at it,” she says. “But even a great artist will run into difficulties sometimes, and this technique can help with that,” Bernie replies. Andrea lifts her eraser for the umpteenth time and rubs away her latest attempt at drawing the fox’s hind legs. “I’ll give it a shot,” Bernie smiles at her.

Andrea is a very talented artist for a ten-year-old. She has an almost uncanny knack for producing accurate proportions in the animals she loves to draw. As a professional artist, it greatly pleases Bernie to foster her talent. “Forget about it, friend, that’s never gonna happen,” Bernie’s wife Stephanie ends a call on her phone as she enters the room. “Everything all right, honey?

Bernie stands to meet her. “Just work issues,” Stephanie grins and hugs Bernie tightly. “How are my two favorite artists doing?” “Always better when you get home,” Bernie says. Andrea comes over to show Stephanie her drawing.

Bernie watches them as he packs away his paint brushes with an almost unbearable fullness in his heart. It seems like only yesterday when Stephanie, the beautiful gallery owner, stole his heart, and now they are married. Bernie wakes every morning feeling that he is the luckiest man on Earth. The family eats breakfast, and Stephanie goes to work, and Bernie takes Andrea to school afterward. Bernie spends his day painting.

Life is perfect until the day Bernie receives an unexpected phone call. “Your wife was in a serious accident, sir,” the nurse on the phone tells him. “I’m very sorry to tell you that she didn’t make it.” In a matter of minutes, Bernie’s life falls apart. One day he was married to his dream woman, and the next he was standing beside her grave with his young stepdaughter.

“I want her back, Andrea. It’s not fair,” he says. “I know,” Bernie crouches down to wrap the girl into a hug. “I know it’s not the same, but you’ve still got me, honey. I’ll always be here to look after you.

I promise.” Andrea squeezes him tightly and cries into his shoulder. Bernie carries her to her car, and it never occurs to him that he won’t be able to keep that promise. A few days later, Bernie fights back his anger as he stares at the CPS worker across from him. “I’m all Andrea has left,” he tells the woman.

“You have to give me custody of her.” “Usually we would, sir, but your income is too unstable. It’s not in Andrea’s best interest to remain in your care at this time,” the woman gives him a stern look across the table. “Prove that you can provide a stable home, and we’ll be happy to revisit our decision.” Bernie steps out into the street in a daze.

He wants to get a job when he and Stephanie first married, but she insisted he spent his day painting. Her support allowed him to do well as an artist, but not well enough to gain custody of Andrea. He thinks of his stepdaughter waiting for him to fetch her and feels the last pieces of his heart shatter. Bernie watches the cars whizzing by on the road. He’s lost everything.

Now the only solution is to ford into the heavy traffic and hopefully see Stephanie again on the other side, but he can’t do that. Bernie turns away and heads home. Andrea needs him, and Bernie will never abandon her. The next day, Bernie starts applying for every job he can find. Within a week, he gets a part-time job packing shelves at a grocery store.

Then the car wash on the corner hires him to help out on weekends, and a few days later, Bernie gets an evening job working the cash register at the cinema. Bernie works like a dog every day and comes home exhausted every evening. He doesn’t have time to paint anymore, but he doesn’t care. The last thing Bernie does every evening is to press his fingers against the photo of Andrea on his bedside table. “Coming for you, Andrea,” he whispers.

“Just hold on. One day, I’m gonna bring you home.” Bernie meets regularly with Andrea’s caseworker in the following months. She is pleased with his progress and arranges for Bernie to visit Andrea at the Children’s Shelter. When the big day comes, Bernie dresses in his best clothes and makes sure he arrives early.

He wants to make a good impression, but it is all for nothing. The people working at the shelter are frantically running about when Bernie arrives. Something is wrong. He sees it in the staff members’ fraught expressions when he speaks to the woman staffing the front desk. He discovers that fate dealt him another terrible blow.

“Andrea is missing, but our people are doing everything we can to find her.” “How could this happen?” Bernie demands. “She’s supposed to be safe here.” “She had a visitor earlier,” the woman replies.

“A man claiming to be your biological father. We let him in to meet her, and the next thing we know, they were gone.” Bernie slumps against the wall. Andrea’s father? That makes no sense.

Stephanie told him the man vanished after Andrea was born. It seemed unlikely he’d return now. The truth was clear. Some stranger had entered the shelter under false pretenses to kidnap Andrea. “How long ago did this happen?

he asks. “About an hour ago. Our staff is searching the building, and we’ve notified the police. We’ll find her, sir.” “You should never have lost her in the first place,” Bernie replies.

“This man can’t be your father, and if anything has happened to her, then I will make sure you pay for your carelessness.” Bernie rushes from the shelter. He calls for Andrea while running up and down the streets. He shows Andrea’s picture to all the shop owners in the vicinity, but nobody has seen her. A growing panic clenches around Bernie’s heart as his hunt continues.

There is no sign of his precious stepdaughter anywhere. He circles the shelter, ranging wider in his search until a police car pulls up beside him. “Mr. Bernie Fletcher,” a policewoman leans out the window to speak to him. “That’s me,” Bernie replies.

“Have you found my daughter?” “We hope so, sir. A man and a young girl matching her description were spotted near the airport. We’d like you to come with us to identify the child.” Bernie’s heart turns to ice as the police car races towards the airport.

A thousand worries circle in his thoughts. Was the man trying to sneak Andrea out of the country? Would they get to the airport in time? When they reach the airport, the police officers tell Bernie they’ll escort him to a room where he can wait. “Airport security is expecting us,” the policewoman tells him.

“As soon as we find the suspect, we’ll fetch you to identify the child.” Bernie follows the officers through the sprawling crowds. He studies everyone they pass in an effort to spot Andrea. Suddenly, he glimpses a familiar pink shirt in his peripheral vision. “Here she is!

Bernie cries and takes off up the escalator where he spotted Andrea. Bernie elbows and shoves his way through the crowds ahead of him. The girl turns, and Bernie knows without a doubt that it is his little girl. He speeds up, never taking his eyes off Andrea, and catches up to her just as the man leads her toward a boarding gate. “Get your hands off my daughter!

Bernie snatches up Andrea and holds her tightly. “Are you okay, Andrea? Did that man hurt you?” Bernie asks. Andrea shakes her head.

“It’s okay, Bernie. The man’s my dad. It’s true. I’m Fred, and I can prove I’m Andrea’s biological father.” Bernie turns to face this strange man.

Everything he’d intended to say died on his lips when he saw the birth certificate the man held out to him. He was Andrea’s father, but he left. “Stephanie told me you walked out on them when Andrea was a baby.” “Stephanie didn’t tell you the whole truth,” Fred Flint says. “I left because I was convicted of a crime.

I got into business with the wrong people, and when they were caught, I went down with them. While I was in prison, Stephanie had her lawyers file papers to revoke my parental rights. I can’t say I blame her. I wasn’t a good person before, but prison taught me that family and the people you love are more.

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