[OOC: I've always wanted to write more with Joza's kids when they were young but I spawned most of them into existence as teenagers.]

For some of us, beginnings don’t start off so pretty. They hadn’t for Joza, so she’d promised that her own children would want for nothing. They would have warm beds, food to eat, and a safe home. They wouldn’t have to drop out of school to start helping out with expenses, they wouldn’t have to make the choice between groceries and paying the electricity bill.

“Who’s that, ma?” Yula had been sitting on the couch, playing a game on her datapad when her mother returned home with a newcomer. A child in her arms, flushed pink with Zeltron heritage. She looked to be younger than Yula herself, about three or four years of age. “Are you babysitting today?”

There was a conscious gentleness to Joza’s posture, aware that the small girl in her arms had suffered terribly. And now, coming to a strange new place, it was no wonder that she seemed a mix of fascinated and terrified. Moreover, she was silent examining Yula.

“No,” Joza wanted to choose her words carefully. “…Where is your brother? Go and find him for me.”

It didn’t take long for Yula to fetch her brother, running to the base of the stairs and shouting for Alan to ‘come down, mom wants to talk to you’. There was a twinge in her voice that promised him he was about to get in trouble, but that was far from the truth.

“Inside voice please, love.” Joza admonished her daughter, though there was a measure of distraction in her voice. Her son descended the stairs quickly, sliding into the kitchen in his socks.

“Hi mom,” He greeted, stopping short at the sight of the
violet haired child with his mother. “Who’s that? Is that one of our cousins?” His stormy grey eyes approach the pair, peering at the child in curiosity.

There was hesitance on Joza’s face as she tried to find the words to explain such a delicate matter to her children. Would they be angry with her? Happy? Who knew. Raising children was the hardest thing she’d ever done, but there was always room in her heart for more. “You can’t save them all.” Ivan had seemed exasperated at her decision, but when has his opinion ever stopped her?
“Alan, Yula. Meet Nida; your little sister.” She knelt down to her two eldest so that they could get a closer look. “Nida, these two are your big brother and big sister. Can you say hello to them?” Nida still seemed out of sorts, staring at the other two children with eyes as wide as saucers. Still, she had unclasped her arms from around Joza’s neck and slipped onto the ground. She said nothing, only watched with her hand fisting the material of her new mother’s pant leg.

Excited by the news, Yula immediately got into Nida’s face. “Hi
Nida! I’m Yula, your new big sister!” Nida only blinked in response, continuing to watch Yula carefully.

Alan seemed a little more perturbed by the situation. “Oh, great.” He heaved an exasperated sigh. “Another little sister!” He had his mother’s flair for the dramatic, after all.

“Did she come from your belly, mom? Is that why you were gone?” Yula finally gave Nida some breathing room, attention turning back towards her mother. Alan made it his business to answer that particular question.

“Of course she didn’t, what are you, stupid? Babies don’t grow that fast. We’re adopting her, right mom?” There was almost a hopeful note in his voice, but Joza couldn’t decide if he was just happy with correcting his sister or if he was coming around to the idea of having another sibling.

“Alan, watch your language.” There was a warning note in her voice, wondering how she’d manage three children when the first two were already prone to fighting. “But yes, you are right. We’re adopting Nida. Does that sound good?”

Alan’s face hardened as he inspected Nida. “Yeah, I guess so. She’s way
more quieter than Yula, so I like her.”

Yula was quick to get defensive. “And I’m glad she’s not a dumb boy like Alan!”

“Alright, alright. No more name calling, do you hear me? This is supposed to be something positive.”
Joza was quick to cut in and curb any more nonsense. “Now, I want you two to be very kind with Nida. The place she’s come from was not very kind to her, so I need you two to make her feel welcome, okay?”

“Where’d she come from that was so mean, mama?” Yula piped up, no longer interested in trading insults with her brother. This was a question that Joza knew was coming but still didn’t have an answer for. How do you tell your kids that their new sibling had been pulled from a busted brothel
slave trading network?

“We’ll talk about that later.” Swiftly, she pivoted the conversation elsewhere. “Why don’t you go and show Nida your toys? I’m sure that the both of you have plenty enough to share.”

Joza watched with a spark of pride as her rambunctious children ushered their newest sibling away with talks of electronics, coloring books and whatever else they had. They were good kids, but incorporating an abused child into their family would take a lot of patience and understanding. Kids who’d experienced what Nida had often had a difficult time adjusting and faced a myriad of mental disorders. Her hopes surged when along with Alan and Yula, she heard a new, soft voice giggling in the next room over.

Maybe they’d be alright after all.