Bettie B. Youngs, Ph.D., Ed.D., is a former Teacher-of-the-Year, university professor and a Pulitzer-Prize nominated author of thirty-one books translated into twenty-three languages. She has frequently appeared on CNN, NBC Nightly News and Oprah. The Washington Post, USA Today, Family Circle and U.S. News & World Report have all recognized her work.
Jennifer Leigh Youngs is the author of Feeling Great, Looking Hot & Loving Yourself: Health, Fitness & Beauty for Teens!
Once youÆve felt the power of love, youÆre sure that no one should ever be without it.
ùAlison Hudak, 15
At the dinner table two years ago, my parents announced ôweö were going to adopt a baby. I wasnÆt quite sure why we were doing this. There were already three kids in my family. Why would my parents want another kid? It wasnÆt like they couldnÆt have children of their own. It was my motherÆs idea. SheÆd found out about international adoptions from a lady at work. She thought about it, and that was that. So ôweö were going to adopt a little girl from China.
I was flabbergasted! Mad, too. And really upset at my mother. I didnÆt want to have someone in my family who wasnÆt really a part of my family. I told my mother so, too. She said we wouldnÆt be getting the little girl for a year or so, so there would be plenty of time to think about things. Thank God, I thought! But within no time, we received a picture of the ônew sister.ö I didnÆt mean to judge, but I thought she was very strange-looking. She had a large head and huge eyes that seemed cross-eyed. I told my mom that at least we should pick a prettier kid, and this isnÆt the one we want. She ignored me and sent word that the baby known as Qin Li Chun would now be Kara Qin Li Hudak. I was going to have a Chinese sister.
Then, we were notified that my mom had been picked to go on the next trip to China. My whole family and even some of my extended family went with her to the airport to send Mom off and wish her a safe trip. Not me! I was still totally opposed to this whole thing! I pleaded and pleaded with my dad to stay home. More than a year had passed since the ôfamily announcement,ö but I still didnÆt want this baby. Everyone knew this. I had informed everyone that this was a really stupid idea, and that weÆd all be sorry we were actually doing this. Over and over, Mom tried to ôwarmö me to the idea and said that in time, she hoped IÆd be excited about itùlike everyone else was. I was certain IÆd never be okay with it! Dad said if that was my choice, I could stay home.
It was nice to have Mom gone on the trip. It was a really fun time because Dad was very lenient and we got away with thingsùlike not doing our chores or cleaning our rooms. Then reality hit! Mom called, and I could hear ôKaraö screaming in the background. I told my mom that if that was the kid she was bringing home, she should reconsider because already it sounded like the huge mistake I knew it was. But she ôretrievedö this kid. And she did bring her home! This time I tagged along with the family to get her from the airport. I was excited to see Mom, not excited to meet my new ten-month-old ôsister.ö When I saw Mom, I hugged her. I only looked at the baby, but I didnÆt want to hold it. Right away I could tell Kara was ôherö baby, and that was all she cared about at that very moment. I thought Mom didnÆt have enough time to split between three kids. How could she ever do it with four? I knew that this baby, being an infant and also adopted, would get all the attention from everyone around her. I disliked this kid even moreùif that was possible! To me, she was simply a total intrusion on my family.
Kara didnÆt say a peep in the first half hour we met her. But thatÆs the only time this girl would ever be quiet again. The moment we put her in that car seat, she screamed, and I mean screamed. IÆve never heard anything so piercing in my life. I put my hood up and tried best to think of a happy place and what life was like before this terror was brought here.
Things went downhill from there. Kara was the most annoying creature that God had put on the planet. She was ALWAYS crying about something or another. She had no clue what we were saying, of course, because she didnÆt speak English. I wanted absolutely nothing to do with the child. I wouldnÆt play with her or hold her. If my mom needed help, I would try to get out of it any way I could. My mom was so disappointed in me that I was being this way and not accepting my new sister. It seemed to me that the new baby took over our family. It was Kara this, Kara that. One day, I couldnÆt take it anymore. I sat in my room and just cried and cried. I even prayed. ôGod,ö I pleaded, ôpleeeeease make things better, because I canÆt stand the way things are!ö
I guess you could say my prayers were answeredùthough not in the way I expected. I mean, the adoption agency didnÆt recall this crying creature, nor did my parents tire of loving or soothing her. School was out, so I was home a lot more. One day, as I was sitting in my room, Kara came dashing in, bear-hugged my legs and then, looking up at me, gave me the biggest smile. It was just so evident that she totally loved me. I totally melted right then and there. Suddenly, like a flash of lightning, I just loved her. I canÆt even account for the change in me. But thatÆs all it took. The hug and huge smile changed my entire attitude toward her. In that moment, I just fell in love with a little girl who had come halfway around the world to have a family to call her own.
IÆve become a sister to Kara. She is my baby, my baby sister, and I love her.
I now realize how Kara is blessed to have us take her in. But we are so blessed by her presence. All this makes me love my mother even more. If it werenÆt for her, Kara might still be in an orphanage with no family to call her own. My motherùher heart big enough to love even more than three childrenùhad reached out to a little child who didnÆt deserve to be alone. I criticized my mom for doing this ôstupidö thing, when in fact she had brought a little angel to our home. Mom had created a miracle for this little girl. And itÆs become one for us, as well.
Someday, I would like to adopt a child. IÆm sure of it. The sense of love and satisfaction of helping someone who needs a home is a beautiful feeling beyond description. Yes, Kara is a lucky little girl that she has a home. But I am even luckier to have a sister as special as Kara. Love is like that. Once youÆve felt the power of love, youÆre sure that no one should ever be without it. Everyone needs someone to love them in the way IÆve learned to love my little sister. My mother has given our family the chance to learn this. Thank you, Mom.
Alison Hudak, 15
AuthorsÆ Note: When Alison sent us her story, she was so proud of her ônewö little sister that she included a picture of Kara. Alison, like your mother and family, youÆve discovered the truest essence of what it means to be a taste berry in the life of another. You are cool, caring and courageous!
¬2004. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Taste Berries for Teens #4: Short Stories and Encouragement on Being Cool, Caring and Courageous by Bettie B. Youngs, Ph.D., Ed.D., Jennifer Leigh Youngs. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.