Sade Baderinwa came into Edie House's life when she was 4. House remembers the little girl's navy blue and red dress with white piping, her saddle shoes and Afro. Sade couldn't pronounce House's name. She called her "Edick." Soon enough, though, the child would ask, "Edick, can I call you Mom?"
Today, Baderinwa, a WBAL anchor, is on the threshold of a promising television career. Proudly watching from home is House, former WBAL anchor and public affairs manager.
As a child, Baderinwa spent many hours with House in the television newsroom. "I remember the studio from when Edie had her own show. I could invite my friends," Baderinwa says.
She watched House at work and got to meet station guests such as 1980s pop singer Stacy Lattisaw and Stevie Wonder. And she remembers how House rose before dawn to do the morning news show, just as Baderinwa does today. "She really paved the way," she says of House.
Now director of communications for the Baltimore City school system, House beams with pride when speaking of Baderinwa. She stresses, though, that a television career was strictly Baderinwa's idea. "I never encouraged her nor did I discourage her," House says during a conversation with Baderinwa at a Cross Keys cafe. "Not because I didn't want her to do it; it had to be her decision. [In television, you spend] so much time working, you need to do something that you really want to do."
The two women first met when Sade accompanied her father, a family friend, to the House residence in Baltimore. At that point, Baderinwa was in her father's custody and her birth mother was not in the picture.
House, then in her 20s, and her parents, James and Edith, were smitten by the affectionate little girl. She was the kind of child "you would want to love and kiss all the time," House says.
Sade often stayed with House and her parents. House remembers once, when Sade spent the weekend, her mother, a stickler for propriety, insisted on polishing her scuffed white shoes.
Another time, House retrieved Sade from her prekindergarten class and the rattled teacher told her: "We had show and tell today and Sade told the class that she wore a bra and drank beer."
The "little boys were so excited," House said. On the way home, she set the little girl straight about telling whoppers.
When Sade was about 7, her father left for Africa and didn't return. House, then in her 20s, and her parents took in the little girl as if she were their own. If House occasionally found herself explaining Sade's presence to puzzled acquaintances, little Sade needed no such clarification: "To me, she was my mother. She always will be."
Baderinwa was equally close to House's parents. Her grandmother Edith, who as a child also knew the pain of being abandoned, made no distinction between biological grandchildren and her, Baderinwa says. "Whatever the other kids got, I got," Baderinwa says.
House's late father was a taxi driver and there wasn't a lot of money to go around, but the family sent Baderinwa to elementary school at Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.
Baderinwa received more than unconditional love from the House family. She also received "a sense of values. Edie taught me how to be a lady, to have aspirations, to work hard and be classy," she says. Once, House realized that Baderinwa had taken money from a purse in their home. She "made me go to confession," she says. "I had to sit before the priest and say why I stole the money. I thought I was meeting God."
Such life lessons "really helped shape who I am today," Baderinwa says.
About five years after Sade had become part of her family, House received a call at work from her daughter's birth mother, who had lived in Montgomery County all along. She wanted to see Sade.
"I knew that day was coming," House says. Still, it was a heartbreaking moment. "I was a single woman. I didn't see a future for getting married. Sade and I were very close."
She also understood that Sade yearned to know her biological mother, as House reminds her: "Once when my mother was combing your hair, you asked, 'Grandma, do you ever forget your Mom?' "
House and her mother accompanied Sade, then 12, to a meeting with her birth mother at Clyde's in Columbia. "It was a very moving moment," House says.
Her ties to Sade were not severed. "We worked out an arrangement, thanks to God," House says. Sade, for example, spent all holidays with the House family. But House deliberately gave her room to meld with her new family, which included a half-brother and two stepbrothers. "It really has taken so much love on Edie's behalf. She allowed my relationship to flourish with my mother," says Baderinwa, who's now in her early 30s. House says simply: "I needed Sade to have that space. They needed to bond as a family."