Melanie was six years old, and she wanted a family. She had been in foster care since she was two years old, so she had no memory of her mother or father.
She often asked herself these questions: “Who were they? Did they love me?” Then she would cry and whisper, “Why didn’t they want me?”
But one day, something wonderful happened, answering her prayers.
A social worker, accompanied by a couple, came to visit Melanie. The couple smiled at her and the man winked at her. His wife had the sweetest, kindest eyes Melanie had ever seen.
“This is Gordon and Helen,” the social worker explained. “And they want to adopt you.”
“Really?” wonders Melanie, then turns to the couple and asks warily, “Why would you want to do that?”
Miracles happen when you least expect them.
Gordon looked shocked by Melanie’s question, but Helen knelt down so she could look her in the eye and said this:
“We want to adopt you because we want the nicest, funniest, prettiest girl in New York to be our daughter.”
Melanie smiled, because she was so happy, and then she threw herself into Helen’s arms. She had found a family that wanted her, and was willing to love her!
Melanie went to live with Gordon and Helen and discovered that having parents was both wonderful and terrible. On the one hand, it is wonderful because you have two people who shower you with love and give you their undivided attention all the time.
On the other hand, it’s terrible because they both notice when you don’t do what you’re supposed to do.
Melanie found that she couldn’t get away with not doing her homework or the naughty but fun things she did in foster care. There were so many kids there, you could do anything you wanted.
In a real family, you couldn’t get away with anything because people cared about you! It was a wonderful realization, and when Helen told Melanie that she had to clean her room before dinner, she exclaimed, “Thank you, thank you!” and hugged her.
Helen laughed. “I have to tell you something again, Melanie!” she exclaimed.
“Yes, please,” Melanie cried. “Because I know you care about me!”
Six months passed, and life went smoothly for the little family. They got to know each other. Melanie learned not to make noise in the morning because Gordon worked into the night. The latter learned not to scare Melanie with plastic spiders because she was REALLY scared.
Helen learned that Gordon and Melanie loved peanut butter cookies. They would sit on the back porch and devour a giant package in five seconds, stuffing the whole cookies into their mouths to see who would eat the fastest.
They all learned what it was like to be a happy family.
But then something awful happened. Gordon was injured on the job and had to spend several weeks in the hospital. As the days went by, Helen seemed more and more worried.
Melanie was a smart girl. She knew that hospital bills were expensive. Sometimes she would hear Helen crying late at night, and she would crawl into bed to hug her.
“Thank God you’re here, Melanie,” Helen whispered as she hugged him.
Fortunately, Gordon recovered and returned home, but he had to walk on crutches. That’s when the bills started to pile up. Helen put them in little piles on the dresser and looked at them with concern.
“We’ll get through this, Helen,” Gordon said softly.
“All our savings are gone, Gordon,” she whispered. “I’m scared. It’s just us now. And if Melanie needs something and we don’t have any money, how are we going to manage?”
Gordon put his arms around Helen.
“Trust in God, my love,” he said. “Hey Melanie, why do you look so sad? Didn’t I see some peanut butter cookies hidden on the top shelf?”
One morning, very early, Melanie woke up with a start. Someone had whistled right in her ear! She gasped and opened her eyes.
Her room was full of balloons! Helen and Gordon (yes, he stood on his own two legs) were standing at the foot of the bed wearing silly party hats and smiling. They were shouting “HAPPY BIRTHDAY.”
Melanie started to smile.
“I forgot it was my birthday!”
“Get up, get up,” Gordon shouted. “We have a SURPRISE for you!”
Melanie got up and followed Helen and Gordon into the dining room. There was a large banner on the wall that read, “Happy Birthday Melanie!” On the table was the most beautiful birthday cake she had ever seen!
“Is it for me?” asked Melanie in a low voice. She walked over and saw the writing on the silver cake with stars all around it, “Happy Birthday, Melanie.”
“It has my name on it!” Melanie exclaimed and burst into tears. She began to cry so hard that Helen and Gordon were startled and upset.
“Please, honey,” Gordon said. “Why are you crying?”
“I’ve never had a cake before!” Melanie continued to cry. “Does that mean you love me? Do you love me for real?”
Gordon and Helen hugged Melanie.
“Of course we love you,” Helen exclaimed. “We chose you! Of all the little girls in the world, we wanted YOU!”
The family had a wonderful day, and Melanie went to bed with a slight stomachache from eating too much cake, but it was the best birthday ever.
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,” said Helen. “Who are you?”
“I’m a friend of her late father,” said the man. “And I’d like to see her.”
“You can’t take her,” Helen yelled. “The court has entrusted her to us.”
“I don’t want to take her,” the man said softly. “I just want to see her.”
Helen and Gordon sat in the living room holding hands while the man talked to Melanie.
“My dear,” he said. “I think you’ll understand the story I’m about to tell you better when you’re older…”
“I’m seven years old,” Melanie says proudly. “I turned seven yesterday!”
“I know,” the man said with a smile. “I was there the day you were born. You should know that your mom and dad loved you very much, Melanie. But when you were one year old, your mom went to heaven. Soon after, your daddy found out that he was very sick. He wanted to make sure he did everything he could for you, so he asked me to sell all his possessions.”
The man pulled out a piece of paper and handed 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 handed the paper to Helen, who started to cry. It was a check for $40,000. Melanie’s biological family had reached out and helped her new family when they needed it most!