The Brown family was devastated when their 12-year-old daughter, Stefanie, vanished. Years passed and they were no closer to discovering what happened to their little girl. Eventually, the case ran cold. They were heartbroken.
Stefanie appeared to have vanished into thin air- until she reappeared 20 years later under a new name.
Puberty was not a walk in the park for Stefanie. There were daily arguments and disagreements in her home just months before she vanished. Due to her unhappiness at home, Stefanie threatened to run away on numerous occasions. Her parents just wrote it off as teenage angst and moved on.
However, eventually they would come to regret their decision. After Stefanie’s disappearance, they spent many sleepless nights reliving their daughter’s last days with them to see if they could have prevented the situation. But it was no help, their daughter was missing.
The Brown family was the kind of family that you would always see in church. They were firm in their religious beliefs. The father, Clarence were known to be somewhat authoritarian and his wife Mary was subservient to his desires.
The family’s religious beliefs caused a lot of friction with Stefanie. She did not always agree with everything and the arguments escalated just months before she vanished.
The Brown’s disapproved Stefanie’s lifestyle choices, as she was romantically attracted to girls. She was young and the family did not want to accept this.
Stefanie coming out stunned her strict religious family. It was particularly difficult for Clarence. However, that was only the beginning.
Mary kept reminiscing about some of the events of the past in the months that followed. She recalled the squabbles, the shouts, Clarence’s rage, and his lack of comprehension for his daughter’s individuality with watery eyes.
Clarence lost his grip of reality since his daughter’s disappearance. He couldn’t eat or sleep and he did not even attend church. He picked up his old habit of smoking and barely spoke to his wife. Not long after, Clarence passed away of lung cancer. Mary had to deal with the loss and grief of both her daughter and husband all alone.
Mary could not stand her loneliness anymore. In an attempt to deal with the horrible events, Mary decided to adopt a baby girl named Nina. She was a five-year old Russian and she knew that she could provide the child with the love and care that she deserved.
Mary might have felt regret with what happened with Stefanie, and saw Nina as an opportunity for a second chance. Would Mary make the same mistakes with Nina, or were things going to be different?
Mary had to relearn how to be a mother while she was raising Nina. With Stefanie, Clarence had the majority say with raising her, but now Mary had to do it all alone.
Clarence was a man rooted in strong values. Things had to be orderly and children must be well-behaved. But raising their child with such strictness and rigidity is what lead her to run away. Mary had to do things differently.
Mary had to unlearn all of that. She needed to find a balance between being strict and being kind, being fair but not too forgiving. She had to make sure that Nina lived a fulfilling and happy life.
Nina grew up to be an upstanding member of society. Mary was consumed with pride, her daughter was perfect. Mary felt like she rectified the past issues she made with Stefanie. However, at the age of 27, Nina revealed something that would put her to the test.
Nina announced that she intended on marrying her long-term boyfriend. This was like music to Mary’ ears.
However, what she shared next stunned Mary. Nina’s boyfriend was born as a woman, so he was a transgender man.
Mary initially had some difficulty accepting that. She was a religious woman and it did not align with her beliefs. But she remembered how these religious values made Stefanie run away. She knew she needed to approach this situation differently.
Mary blessed the marriage and then the wedding preparations began. However, little did Mary know that she would find something that made her jaw drop at the ceremony.
When the day of the wedding arrived, one of the first things Mary did was try to get to know the groom. Nina had never introduced them to one another and, all things considered, Mary could see why she might have been afraid to do so.
Now Mary was eager to meet the man her daughter had chosen to share a life with. But when she first saw his face, her heart skipped a beat. She instantly recognized him.
The groom had the same mannerisms, the same face, the same eyes and the same expression as her long lost daughter Stephanie. The groom recognized her too and stared her deeply into the eye.
“Hello, mom”, he said. For a minute, Mary thought she was dreaming. But she wasn’t. That could only be her daughter Stephanie.
After leaving the house, escaping from her father’s intolerance, Stephanie’s life hadn’t been easy. She knew poverty and life on the street. But she ended up getting in touch with some distant relatives who had raised her. With time, she had figured out a deeper fact about her identity: she was actually a man born in a woman’s body.
Her parents would have never accepted it and, in a way, leaving the house had been a fortunate turn for all of them. Living with the Browns, Stephanie, who now went under the name Steve, would have never been happy. God only knows how things might have turned out had she stayed under their parents’ rule.
The distant relatives had taken care of her and supported her. Now, Steve was a successful attorney in the city, working in the same firm as Nina. During their dating stage, Nina had told Steve about her background, and Steve immediately knew that she was talking about his own family.
When Steve told her the truth, she was shocked. They both agreed that it would be better to postpone the decision of telling Mary about it for as long as possible, for they were afraid that Mary might struggle accepting what had become of her daughter.
However, Mary just felt euphoric to be reunited with her son. She also felt really sorry about how difficult Steve’s childhood had been at the Brown’s. They both embraced each other teary-eyed and reconciled.
The wedding proceeded happily. And from then on, the Brown family was more united than ever.