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:

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The Stories That Bind Us

In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future. -- Alex Haley

I hit the breaking point as a parent a few years ago. It was the week of my extended family’s annual gathering in August, and we were struggling with assorted crises. My parents were aging; my wife and I were straining under the chaos of young children; my sister was bracing to prepare her preteens for bullying, sex and cyberstalking.

Sure enough, one night all the tensions boiled over. At dinner, I noticed my nephew texting under the table. I knew I shouldn’t say anything, but I couldn’t help myself and asked him to stop.

Ka-boom! My sister snapped at me to not discipline her child. My dad pointed out that my girls were the ones balancing spoons on their noses. My mom said none of the grandchildren had manners. Within minutes, everyone had fled to separate corners.

Later, my dad called me to his bedside. There was a palpable sense of fear I couldn’t remember hearing before.

“Our family’s falling apart,” he said.

“No it’s not,” I said instinctively. “It’s stronger than ever.”But lying in bed afterward, I began to wonder: Was he right? What is the secret sauce that holds a family together? What are the ingredients that make some families effective, resilient, happy?

It turns out to be an astonishingly good time to ask that question. The last few years have seen stunning breakthroughs in knowledge about how to make families, along with other groups, work more effectively.

Myth-shattering research has reshaped our understanding of dinnertime, discipline and difficult conversations. Trendsetting programs from Silicon Valley and the military have introduced techniques for making teams function better.

The only problem: most of that knowledge remains ghettoized in these subcultures, hidden from the parents who need it most. I spent the last few years trying to uncover that information, meeting families, scholars and experts ranging from peace negotiators to online game designers to Warren Buffett’s bankers.

After a while, a surprising theme emerged. The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.

I first heard this idea from Marshall Duke, a colorful psychologist at Emory University. In the mid-1990s, Dr. Duke was asked to help explore myth and ritual in American families.

“There was a lot of research at the time into the dissipation of the family,” he told me at his home in suburban Atlanta. “But we were more interested in what families could do to counteract those forces.”

Around that time, Dr. Duke’s wife, Sara, a psychologist who works with children with learning disabilities, noticed something about her students.

“The ones who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges,” she said.

Her husband was intrigued, and along with a colleague, Robyn Fivush, set out to test her hypothesis. They developed a measure called the “Do You Know?” scale that asked children to answer 20 questions.

Examples included: Do you know where your grandparents grew up? Do you know where your mom and dad went to high school? Do you know where your parents met? Do you know an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family? Do you know the story of your birth?

Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush asked those questions of four dozen families in the summer of 2001, and taped several of their dinner table conversations. They then compared the children’s results to a battery of psychological tests the children had taken, and reached an overwhelming conclusion. The more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. The “Do You Know?” scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.

“We were blown away,” Dr. Duke said.

And then something unexpected happened. Two months later was Sept. 11. As citizens, Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush were horrified like everyone else, but as psychologists, they knew they had been given a rare opportunity: though the families they studied had not been directly affected by the events, all the children had experienced the same national trauma at the same time. The researchers went back and reassessed the children.

“Once again,” Dr. Duke said, “the ones who knew more about their families proved to be more resilient, meaning they could moderate the effects of stress.”

Why does knowing where your grandmother went to school help a child overcome something as minor as a skinned knee or as major as a terrorist attack?

“The answers have to do with a child’s sense of being part of a larger family,” Dr. Duke said.

Psychologists have found that every family has a unifying narrative, he explained, and those narratives take one of three shapes.

First, the ascending family narrative: “Son, when we came to this country, we had nothing. Our family worked. We opened a store. Your grandfather went to high school. Your father went to college. And now you. …”

Second is the descending narrative: “Sweetheart, we used to have it all. Then we lost everything.”

“The most healthful narrative,” Dr. Duke continued, “is the third one. It’s called the oscillating family narrative: ‘Dear, let me tell you, we’ve had ups and downs in our family. We built a family business. Your grandfather was a pillar of the community. Your mother was on the board of the hospital. But we also had setbacks. You had an uncle who was once arrested. We had a house burn down. Your father lost a job. But no matter what happened, we always stuck together as a family.’ ”

Dr. Duke said that children who have the most self-confidence have what he and Dr. Fivush call a strong “intergenerational self.” They know they belong to something bigger than themselves.

Leaders in other fields have found similar results. Many groups use what sociologists call sense-making, the building of a narrative that explains what the group is about.

Jim Collins, a management expert and author of “Good to Great,” told me that successful human enterprises of any kind, from companies to countries, go out of their way to capture their core identity. In Mr. Collins’s terms, they “preserve core, while stimulating progress.” The same applies to families, he said.

Mr. Collins recommended that families create a mission statement similar to the ones companies and other organizations use to identify their core values.

The military has also found that teaching recruits about the history of their service increases their camaraderie and ability to bond more closely with their unit.

Cmdr. David G. Smith is the chairman of the department of leadership, ethics and law at the Naval Academy and an expert in unit cohesion, the Pentagon’s term for group morale. Until recently, the military taught unit cohesion by “dehumanizing” individuals, Commander Smith said. Think of the bullying drill sergeants in “Full Metal Jacket” or “An Officer and a Gentleman.”

But these days the military spends more time building up identity through communal activities. At the Naval Academy, Commander Smith advises graduating seniors to take incoming freshmen (or plebes) on history-building exercises, like going to the cemetery to pay tribute to the first naval aviator or visiting the original B-1 aircraft on display on campus.

Dr. Duke recommended that parents pursue similar activities with their children. Any number of occasions work to convey this sense of history: holidays, vacations, big family get-togethers, even a ride to the mall. The hokier the family’s tradition, he said, the more likely it is to be passed down. He mentioned his family’s custom of hiding frozen turkeys and canned pumpkin in the bushes during Thanksgiving so grandchildren would have to “hunt for their supper,” like the Pilgrims.

“These traditions become part of your family,” Dr. Duke said.

Decades of research have shown that most happy families communicate effectively. But talking doesn’t mean simply “talking through problems,” as important as that is. Talking also means telling a positive story about yourselves. When faced with a challenge, happy families, like happy people, just add a new chapter to their life story that shows them overcoming the hardship. This skill is particularly important for children, whose identity tends to get locked in during adolescence.

The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.

Today’s article was written by Bruce Feiler and is shared from the following website:

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The Importance of Friendship…

A friend is one that knows You as you are, understands where You have been, accepts what You have become and still gently allows You to grow William Shakespeare
One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class walking home from school. His name was Kyle. It looked like he was carrying all of his books, and I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday? He must really be a nerd.”

I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on. As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him. They ran right up to him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt. His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him.

Then he looked up, and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes. My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye. As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks. They really should get a life.”

He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!” There was a big smile on his face. It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude. I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived. As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before. He said he had gone to private school before now. I would have never hung out with a private school kid before. We talked all the way home, and I carried his books.

He turned out to be a pretty cool kid. I asked him if he wanted to play football on Saturday with me and my friends. He said yes. We hung all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him. Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again. I stopped him and said, “Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!”

He just laughed and handed me half the books. Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends. When we were seniors, began to think about college. Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke.

I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem. He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship. Kyle was valedictorian of our class and I teased him all the time about being a nerd. He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.

On Graduation Day, I saw Kyle. He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than me and all the girls loved him. Boy, sometimes I was jealous. Today was one of those days.

I could see that he was nervous about his speech. So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!” He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one), and smiled. “Thanks,” he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began.

“Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years. Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach… but mostly your friends. I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them. I am going to tell you a story.”

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met . He had planned to kill himself over the weekend. He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker, so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later, and was carrying his stuff home. He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile.

“Thankfully, I was saved. My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.” I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment. I saw his Mom and Dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile. Not until that moment did I realize its depth.

Never underestimate the power of your actions. With one small gesture you can change a person’s life. For better or for worse. God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way. Look for God in others.

“Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”

I agree with this. Your one action can really change a person’s life. or motivate someone. And friends are the most important part about your life. A friend does have a major impact on you. Many times i have found myself being depressed and lonely. I don’t know if its hormones or just me. But a message from a friend on whatsapp or facebook instantly makes me forget about my  depression and I’m all happy and cheerful again. 🙂

Like Aristotle said –

“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ”

We are all social animals. I have never found or met anyone who “does not partake of society”. And now days there are so many social networking websites, I don’t think this generation can ever feel lonely, You can always connect with someone online or just call them up.

So, don’t judge people by their appearances, be kind to all and keep smiling 🙂

Today’s comments and inspiring story were shared from the following website:

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How to Have a Long and Happy Marriage

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. Mignon McLaughlin

Eighty-seven years ago, Karam and Katari Chand met in their native land of Punjab, India through an arranged marriage. They’re still together and are waiting for the Guinness Book of World records to proclaim them as officially having the world’s longest lasting marriage. Karam says “My trick is to make Katari laugh. I like to tell jokes and make her smile. Being funny is my way of being romantic.”

The couple have eight children and twenty eight grandchildren together. There is an age difference – Karam is 107, and his wife is a relatively youthful 100, but that hasn’t stopped their long and successful partnership.

One of the secrets to their long and happy marriage is that the key to success is looking after each other in every way possible.

“I have been told laughing makes you live longer… my wife is still alive so it must have worked! I love her so much and I want to spend another 80 years by her side,” Karam says.

The couple now lives in Bradford and are both looked after by one of their children.
Katari says that eating right is very important. “When I was young I used to make him a nice fresh meal every night. We are vegetarian so I brought lots of fresh vegetables and made sure he was eating healthy food.

“Health is very important and I wanted to look after him so we could grow old together. Some would say it has worked!

Karam does a word search every day to keep his mind alive. He believes that spending plenty of time together has helped their marriage last.

“We have not spent any long span apart in over 50 years. We go everywhere together – up until a few years ago we went to India every year with the family and for all family weddings we make sure we get to stay together,” he says.

The couple’s marriage has lasted nearly five years longer than that of the current Guinness World Record holders and the couple is in the process of getting confirmation from the company that they will be named as the new record holders.

Both now share their five steps to a long and successful marriage:

1. “Always be faithful: always be faithful to one another. When you get married you commit to devoting your life to that person and even when the times are tough, don’t believe that the grass is greener…because it isn’t.”

2. “Look after each other as best you can: if you want to grow old with your partner you have to make sure you always look after each other in every shape and form. Whether it is making a meal, holding your partners hand when crossing the road or being a shoulder to cry on when something goes wrong.”

3. “Be tolerant of each other: everyone has bad habits or annoying traits. Whether it is leaving a towel on the floor or listening to the radio too loudly, you have to tolerate each other and realize that no one is perfect.”

4. “Listen to each other: the most important thing in a relationship is to listen. People don’t listen anymore because they are too busy with work and TV. Listen to your loved ones’ problems and concerns every day, because then you can help them overcome them and be happier. Also, it brings you closer together because you are the first port of call for each other when there is an issue in your life.”

5. “Follow social and religious values. Respect, care, cherish, love and value your partner – always treat them how you would want to be treated yourself.”

Today’s article was written by Greg Goodsell and is shared from the following website:


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The Power of a True Friend

 A day spent with you is my favorite day. So today is my new favorite day Winnie the Pooh

Friendship is a priceless gift – a gift that we should never take for granted. I love today’s story! Often, the most cherished moments of our lives come because of the thoughtfulness of friends. Friends come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are our best bud and sometimes they are a complete stranger. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and that you get to spend it with some friends!

Wet Pants

— Author Unknown

Come with me to a third grade classroom. There is a nine-year-old kid sitting at his desk and all of a sudden, there is a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened.  It’s never happened before, and he knows that when the boys find out he will never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they’ll never speak to him again as long as he lives.

The boy believes his heart is going to stop; he puts his head down and prays this prayer, ‘Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now I’m dead meat.’

He looks up from his prayer and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says he has been discovered.

As the teacher is walking toward him, a classmate named Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled with water. Susie trips in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy’s lap.

The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is saying to himself, ‘Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!’

Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All the other children are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. The sympathy is wonderful… But as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been transferred to someone else – Susie.

She tries to help, but they tell her to get out. ‘You’ve done enough, you klutz!’

Finally, at the end of the day, as they are waiting for the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and whispers, ‘You did that on purpose, didn’t you?’ Susie whispers back, ‘I wet my pants once too.’

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