Adoption…An Inspired Concept

Family is not defined by our genes, it is built and maintained through love Amelia G.

The subject of adoption is near and dear to my heart. The adoption of my youngest son and daughter has its own story – one that continues to this day. You can read about my adoption story in my book, A Glimpse of Heaven. However, today, I want to share someone else’s story with you as well. Adoption begins in the heart and that is where it needs to stay – I hope you enjoy today’s story!:

An Adoption Story That Started at Saks

On my many excursions into Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City over the years, I’ve bought countless pairs of shoes that brightened my mood, picked out dresses that (sometimes) flattered my figure, and turned over my credit card for too many cosmetics that I’d hoped would make me look like a fresher, prettier version of myself.

But one afternoon in October 2002, I walked out of the store with something more valuable than anything money could buy. I found hope in the unlikeliest of places after months of despair, thanks to a woman who decided to strike up a conversation with me in the store’s café.

It was a painful time for me. Married a little over two years, I’d suffered three devastating miscarriages in nine months and, at 42, was slowly coming to terms with the idea that I might never be able to have a child. Up until that point, I never really gave much thought to being a mother, and suddenly I could think of little else. My husband and I had been together for ten years before we decided to get married because neither of us was in a hurry to do so. My parents’ marriage had ended disastrously, leaving my mother in deteriorating health and dire financial circumstances. After her death a few years later, I vowed to maintain my independence, and I threw myself into my work as a freelance marketing consultant and fledgling writer. Motherhood just wasn’t part of the plan.

As my 40th birthday approached, I began, for the first time, to notice babies and their happy, smiling mothers wherever I went. I wished I could talk to my own mother about the yearning, hurt, and confusion I was experiencing.

On that fateful day, I’d been trudging around the city sleepwalking through meetings with clients while the voice inside me cried out, “It’s too late! You missed your chance to be a mother! You wanted an all-consuming career, and now you’ve got one.”

A light mist turned into a heavy rain. Perfect, I thought. Just the thing to match my mood. With an hour to kill before my next appointment, I ducked into Saks, hoping to distract myself with some retail therapy. When scouring the sale racks did little to lift my spirits, I decided to head to the ninth-floor café.

An elegantly dressed, slightly older woman wearing a tweed blazer and oversize pearls was seated a few stools away at the half-empty counter.

“Would you like to see a picture of my daughter?” she asked me.

“Sure,” I said, not at all sure why I was remotely interested.

She reached across the counter and handed me a photo of a smiling Chinese girl. The child was about seven years old and was wearing a Snow White costume.

“That’s Melanie. She’s in the first grade,” she said. I could hear the motherly pride in her voice.

“She’s pretty,” I said. “I love her costume.”

We were still chatting when our salads arrived. My new acquaintance told me she was exhausted, having been up half the night worrying over the news that some boys on her daughter’s bus had teased her about the “funny-smelling” Chinese snacks she had in her lunch box.

The woman explained that she felt strongly about teaching her daughter about Chinese customs and maintaining ties to her heritage.

“What made you decide to adopt her?” I asked, uncertain whether I’d ventured into too-personal territory.

“I didn’t want work to be my whole life,” she said.

I’m not sure if she saw the tears welling up in my eyes as I replied, “I don’t either, but I’m afraid it’s too late.”

“I was 51 when I adopted Melanie,” she said with more than a hint of reassurance in her voice. “And it’s the most rewarding, exciting thing I’ve ever done.”

When our checks came, she handed me her business card, and I finally learned her name—and in that minute, I saw a happier, more fulfilled version of myself. Jill Totenberg was a public relations consultant and a happy, loving adoptive parent. Could I ever hope to have that kind of life?

That night, I dreamed of my mother, remembering that she once had wanted to adopt a child from Vietnam, but my father hadn’t felt the same way. It was the first time she’d ever appeared in my dreams. I woke up knowing I could be—and would be—a mother. I also knew how that was going to happen.

A few days later, in the car on our way to dinner, I told my husband that I wanted to look into adopting a girl from China. “You’re enough for me,” he said. “But if you want to find out more about that, we can.”

In early 2003, we registered with an adoption agency and began an 18-month “paper pregnancy.” During that time, I kept in touch with Jill, e-mailing her occasionally. I promised to visit so I could meet her daughter, but as often happens, life got in the way. Still, the little girl in the Snow White costume and her mother were never far away in my thoughts.

When my husband and I returned from China with our nine-month-old daughter, Madeline Jing-Mei, in November 2005, Jill was one of the first people I e-mailed. “I did it!” I wrote. “I’m a mother, and she’s beautiful!”

“Congratulations,” she wrote back. “You’re embarking on the greatest adventure of your life.”

We recently reconnected on Facebook, and I reminded her that meeting her was the single most important encounter I’d ever had with a stranger. “I can’t imagine my life without Madeline. She’s the happiest child, and I adore her. I would have never really thought about adopting a baby from China if I hadn’t met you that day,” I told her. “You changed my life.”

“You were just ready to hear what I had to say,” said Jill. “It was meant to be.”

Today’s story was written by Diane Clehane and is shared from the following website: https://www.rd.com/true-stories/inspiring/adoption-story-started-saks/2/

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The Role of a Father…The Power of Positive Influence

A Father is neither an anchor to hold us back, nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way

Father’s have an influence whether present or not. I have seen that influence. I have seen the influence of father’s who chose not to be present in their children’s lives. I have seen the insecurity that was a result of those absent fathers. I have seen some of those same children, in an attempt to cover and disguise their hurt, become very angry individuals. I have also seen the positive influence of loving, supportive father’s.

I believe that each of us inherently needs the guidance of a father. In fact, I believe that we each need to have two fathers in our lives – our eternal father and our mortal father. I also believe that our mortal fathers frame our ability, at least initially, to conceptualize our eternal father. Where fathers are caring and supportive, we can more easily envision God as caring and supportive. Where fathers are absent or harsh, we are more easily inclined to believe that God is harsh, absent, or intent on punishing us.

I am grateful for the fathers of the world who have embraced the importance of their role in the lives of their children. I am also grateful for the many men who have “fathered” children in some positive way that they have no genetic link to – whether they have fathered those children as a coach, teacher, ecclesiastical leader or some other way.

I hope your life has been blessed by a wonderful father and many amazing father figures. However, if that has not been the case, it is my prayer that you will be willing to search your heart and come to know (if you don’t already) the father of your soul. I know He loves you and I know of His concern for your welfare and well-being.

Today, I hope you will be as inspired by today’s story as I was. I am so grateful for loving fathers!

An Inspiring Story of Fatherhood

Two years before Castro took over Cuba, Faustino was twelve and returning on a flight to Havana from Miami where his dad took him on a shopping trip. Over the straights of Florida one of the airliner’s four engines caught fire. After efforts to extinguish the flames remotely failed a steward announced the pilot decided to ditch the plane.

Recently Faustino told me, “I’ll never forget the panic in his face. Some passengers began to scream as he told us to buckle our seatbelts, put on life vests, remove our shoes, and brace for the impact.”

Despite the steward’s attempt to stop him Faustino’s dad disobeyed. He unbuckled his seatbelt and knelt in front of the boy where his body could act as a modern-day airbag. He told the child, “Once the plane stops, get out. Don’t wait for me.”

Fortunately when the airplane nearly reached sea level the flames went out. The plane was diverted to a Cuban military airbase instead of Havana’s municipal airport. But at least the touchdown was with wheels on dry land.

The scariest episode of Faustino’s life taught him that he was his dad’s number one priority. Consequently, the boy resolved that he would never intentionally do anything to disgrace the family name. Thereafter Faustino took all of his dad’s advice seriously because he knew – beyond a shadow of doubt – that his father always had Faustino’s best interests at heart.

The boy’s family escaped Castro’s Cuba for Florida in the early 1960s. Like most refugees they had no money. Within weeks of arriving Faustino’s dad held down three jobs. But nothing ranked higher in the dad’s priority than the boy’s education.

Earlier this year Faustino told me, “Even though I was only sixteen dad announced that I was to start electrical engineering college courses. I never questioned the decision. When I brought the University of Florida diploma home after four years, dad hung it on the wall of his home office where it remained until he died 35 years later.”

As an adult Faustino left Florida and became prosperous in Silicon Valley where he worked with some of the era’s legendary figures. Recently I asked how he could be comfortable taking risk on volatile start-up businesses.

Faustino said, “Although dad never explicitly told me that I could recover from failures, I felt instinctively that I could because of his example. Upon arriving in Florida dad possessed almost nothing, yet he made a good life for our family. Additionally, the unconditional family love left me feeling that even if I did fail, there was a parachute.”

During most of his career Faustino lived 3,000 miles distant from his dad. Nonetheless, they talked on the phone almost every day. Typically his dad asked, “Are you okay? Do you need any money?”

Story shared from the following website: https://www.avoiceformen.com/men/fathers/inspiring-fathers-day-stories/

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The Influence of a Mother…

What a mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin   Henry Ward Beecher

The influence of a mother is beyond quantifying. As a mother of both biological and adopted children, I can tell you that the influence of a mother – Good or Bad is felt for a lifetime.

The ability to trust, love, and have empathy begins with a mother.

All mothers who dedicate themselves to their marriages and their children contribute in wonderful and positive ways to the wholeness and happiness of this world!

If you are one of those mothers, please know how important and priceless you are!

I hope you enjoy today’s story!:

The Influence of a Mother

In the fifth grade, “Bennie” was failing at school. He was elated to receive a D on an exam. After all, it was better than the F’s he was getting. Bennie’s mother didn’t share his excitement. “You can’t settle for just barely passing. You’re too smart to do that. You can make the top math grade in the class,” she said.

Long before it was commonplace in corporate America, Bennie’s mother implemented a self-improvement program in her home. She limited Bennie and his brother to three television programs a week and, in their free time, they would have to read two books a week and write a report at week’s end. “My boys are going to be successful in life, because they’re going to be the best readers in the school,” she explained. Bennie did become the best reader in school and, later, became famous for being the first neurosurgeon to successfully separate conjoined twins at the head. This week the former head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Ben Carson, threw his hat into the race for the GOP presidential nomination. “Almost daily she’d say, ‘Bennie, you can do anything you set yourself to do,’” Carson recalls in his autobiography, Gifted Hands.

If success leaves clues, maybe on this Mother’s Day we should take a clue from the lesson these mothers teach us. And the lesson is this—a title doesn’t confer leadership. True leadership is helping people to see their potential, even when they don’t see it themselves.

Story was shared from the following website: https://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2015/05/08/inspiring-mothers-who-motivated-famous-business-leaders/#30155b573a51

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One of the Greatest Gifts You Can Give Your Child…

One of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child is to help them find their talents. Sean CoveryI love children! I love their freshness and their unencumbered awe of the world!

It always makes me sad when I see a child question their worth and begin to doubt that they have any worthwhile abilities. (Truthfully, it makes me sad to see adults question their worth and abilities as well.)

I believe we all have a special obligation to help children believe in themselves and to help them develop their talents and gifts.

Imagine a world in which children and adults alike knew their worth and celebrated their god-given talents and gifts!

I think today’s story would be great to share with children! It does a wonderful job of helping children understand that, oftentimes, developing strengths and talents does not come without some adversity and difficulties.

I hope you will enjoy it and share it if you get a chance!

The Seeds

Once upon a time there were four seeds who were good friends of each other. Taken up by the wind they finally landed in a jungle clearing. There they remained, hidden on the ground, hoping they would be able to grow up and become beautiful trees.

But when the first seed began germinating, they realized it wouldn’t be such an easy task. In that clearing there lived a group of monkeys, and the smallest monkeys would amuse themselves by throwing bananas at any plant they noticed was starting to grow. Using this game, the monkeys learned how to throw bananas and they also kept the clearing free of vegetation.

They threw so many bananas at that first seed that it was almost split in two. And when it told the other seeds what happened, they all agreed it would be better to wait for that group of monkeys to move on, before they attempted to grow.

Well, they all thought that, apart from one, who thought she should at least attempt it. And when she tried she was pelted with bananas, and was left folded over in two. The other seeds got together and asked her to stop trying, but that little seed was completely determined to become a tree, and time and again she would try and try. On each new occasion the little monkeys had slightly improved their aim, and so the little seed ended up doubled over yet again.

But the seed didn’t give up. Every time they pelted her with bananas, she tried even harder, despite her friends begging her to stop, and telling her to wait until the monkeys left. And so, for days, weeks and months the little plant was attacked by the monkeys, and she always ended stooped and doubled over. For a few days she would manage to avoid the bananas, but then the next day some monkey would hit her, and it would all start over again.

And then, one day, she didn’t double over. She was hit by a banana, and then another, but none of them managed to make her stoop. She had taken so many blows, and been doubled over so many times, that she was full of hard knots and scars that helped her to grow more strongly than the other seeds. So, her slim trunk got thicker and more resistant, until it could withstand the impact of a banana. And she was already so well developed that nor could the little monkeys uproot her from the ground. And there she stayed, growing, growing and growing.

Thanks to the extraordinary strength of her trunk she could continue overcoming all difficulties, until she became the most majestic tree in the jungle. Meanwhile her friends remained hidden in the ground, and they continued as ever, hoping that those horrible monkeys would abandon the clearing, never realizing that those very same monkeys were the only ones capable of strengthening the seeds’ trunks by their method of throwing bananas, something that would prepare the seeds for all the problems they would confront during their growth.

Story written by: Pedro Pablo Sacristan

Story shared from the following website: https://freestoriesforkids.com/children/stories-and-tales/seeds

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Let Your Vote be Heard this Coming Election!

US_Flag_HangingBanner3a_outlineThere is a lot of coverage being given now to the U.S. presidential election. Rightfully so! I think that I may have a perspective about that campaign that is held by few others You may wonder what a near death experience has to do with politics? It has everything to do with politics and with life!

I know that the United States of America was founded under the influence, guidance, and protection of God – the Creator of us all. I also know that God will continue to protect us and our freedoms if we continue to serve and obey Him.

Some seem to be of the opinion that God blesses His children the same regardless of their behavior and choices. That is not true. God loves His children regardless of their choices and behavior but He does not bless them the same irregardless. What kind of parent would reward their naughty child the same as the obedient child?

I saw in heaven the evil that is a part of Satan’s work. His work carries on in this world to the extent that we choose to serve him and not God and/or ignore that Satan exists altogether. We each count and we each have important tasks to accomplish with our lives. Who we elect matters. The lives of unborn children matter, families matter, freedom as defined in our constitution matters, receiving blessings from God matters, and most of all – God matters. There is not such thing as a perfect candidate. For too long, our country has voted for individuals who “look good or are popular” according to standards that are light years away from God. Please join with me and let your voice be heard with those that follow God this coming election day!

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