Melanie was six years old, and she wanted a family. She had been in foster care since she was two — too young to even remember her mother and father.
She often asked herself: “Who were they? Did they love me?” Then she’d cry and whisper: “Why didn’t they want me?” But one day, something wonderful happened, something Melanie had been praying for.
A social worker came to visit Melanie and with her came a young couple. The man winked at Melanie and grinned, the woman smiled. She had the sweetest, kindest eyes Melanie had ever seen.
“This is Gordon and Helen,” the social worker explained. “And they want to adopt you.”
“They do?” gasped Melanie, then she turned to the couple and asked suspiciously, “Why do you want to do that?”
Miracles happen when you least expect them.
The man, Gordon, looked shocked by Melanie’s question, but Helen knelt down so she could look Melanie in the eyes and said, “We want to adopt you because we want the nicest, funniest, prettiest girl in New York City to be our daughter.”
Melanie smiled a big, sunny, happy smile and threw her arms around Helen. She had found a family who wanted her, and was willing to love her for herself!
Melanie went to live with Gordon and Helen and discovered that having parents was both wonderful and terrible. It was wonderful because you had two people giving you all their love and attention all the time.
It was terrible because you had two people giving you all their love and attention all the time, and noticing when you didn’t do things you were supposed to do.
Melanie discovered she couldn’t get away with not doing her homework, or doing any of the naughty but fun things she’d done in the foster home. There, there were so many kids, you get away with anything.
In a real family, you don’t get away with anything because people CARE about you! It was a wonderful realization, and when Helen told Melanie she had to clean her room before dinner, she cried, “Thank you, thank you!” and hugged her.
Helen laughed. “I have to tell you off more, Melanie!” she exclaimed.
“Yes, please,” Melanie cried. “Then I know you care!”
Six months went by, and life fell into a pattern that was comfortable for the little family. They got to know each other. Melanie knew not to make noise in the mornings because Gordon worked the night shift. Gordon learned not to scare Melanie with plastic spiders because she was REALLY scared, not fun, pretend scared.
Helen learned that both Gordon and Melanie loved peanut butter cookies. They’d sit on the back porch and devour a whole jumbo packet in five seconds, stuffing the whole cookies in their mouths to see who could eat faster.
They all learned what it’s like to be a happy family.
But then something awful happened. Gordon was hurt at work and had to spend several weeks in the hospital. Helen looked more and more worried as the days went by.
Melanie was a bright girl. She knew that doctors cost a lot of money. Sometimes she would hear Helen cry late at night, and she’d creep into her bed and hug her.
“Thank God for you, Melanie,” Helen would whisper and kiss her.
Fortunately, Gordon got better and came home, but he had to walk around on crutches. That was when the bills started arriving. Helen put them in little piles on the dresser and looked at them worriedly. “We’ll sort it out, Helen,” Gordon said softly.
“Our savings are all gone, Gordon,” she whispered. “I’m scared. It’s not just us, anymore. What if Melanie needs something and we don’t have the money.”
Gordon put his arms around Helen. “Trust in God, my love,” he said. “Hey Melanie, why are you looking so sad? Didn’t I see some peanut butter cookies hidden away on the top shelf?”
One morning, bright and early, Melanie woke up with a start. Someone had blown a party whistle right in her ear! She jumped and opened her eyes.
Her bedroom was full of balloons! Helen and Gordon (yes, he was up!) were standing by the foot of the bed wearing silly party hats and grinning. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” they shouted.
Melanie started to smile. “I forgot it’s my birthday!”
“Get up, get up,” chanted Gordon. “There’s a SURPRISE!”
Melanie got up and followed Helen and Gordon to the dining room. There was a big banner on the wall that read: “Happy Birthday Melanie!” and on the table was the most beautiful birthday cake she’d ever seen!
“That for me?” asked Melanie in a whisper. She came closer and saw the writing on the cake in silver with stars all around: “Happy Birthday Melanie.”
“It’s got my name on it!” Melanie exclaimed and burst into tears. She started sobbing so hard that Helen and Gordon were frightened and upset.
“Please, Melanie,” Gordon said. “Why are you crying, honey?”
“I’ve never had a cake before!” Melanie sobbed. “Does that mean you love me? Really, really love me?”
Gordon and Helen put their arms around Melanie. “Of course we love you,” Helen exclaimed. “We CHOSE you! Out of all the little girls in the world, we wanted YOU!”
The family had a wonderful day, and Melanie went to bed with a bit of a tummy ache because she ate too much cake, but it was the best birthday of her entire life.
The next day was a Sunday, and the family was getting ready to go to church when someone knocked on the door. There was a tall man standing there. “Are you Melanie’s adoptive mother?” he asked Helen.
“Yes,” Helen said. “Who are you?”
“I’m a friend of her late father,” the man said. “And I want to see her.”
“You can’t take her away,” Helen cried. “The court gave her to us.”
“I don’t want to take her away,” the man said gently. “I just want to see her.”
Helen and Gordon sat in the lounge holding hands while the man spoke to Melanie. “My dear,” he said. “I think you will understand the story I’m about to tell you better when you are older…”
“I’m seven,” Melanie said proudly. “I turned seven yesterday!”
“I know,” the man said, smiling. “I was there when you were born. You must know that your mommy and daddy loved you very much, Melanie. But when you were a year old, your mom went to heaven.
“Not long after that, your dad discovered he was very sick. He wanted to make sure he did everything he could for you, so he asked me to sell everything he had.”
The man took out a piece of paper and gave it to Melanie. “He wanted me to give you this money when you were eighteen, or when you were adopted by a good family. I know Helen and Gordon are good people who love you. This is for you and your new family.”
Melanie gave the paper to Helen who started crying. It was a check for $40,000. Melanie’s birth family had reached out and helped her new family when they needed it most!
What can we learn from this story?
- Miracles happen when you least expect them. Melanie was adopted by a wonderful couple after she’d given up hope, then she received an unexpected gift from her biological parents.
- A family is built on love and acceptance. Melanie, Gordon, and Helen became a wonderful family even though they weren’t related because they loved each other.