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Disaster Relief - Articles

Celebrating Life in the Midst of Tragedy

Thu, 14 May 2009 - 3:31 PM CST

dBy Alice E. Jones

Michael, Arlene, & baby Andrew

The words to a favorite song are especially meaningful to Arlene Blondo as she cradles her infant son in her arms, gently rocking him in the family glider rocking chair. It is customary in the evening for this new mother to read story books, pray, and listen to soothing music while little Andrew sits nestled in his mother's lap enjoying the love and attention lavished on him. But this evening is different.

It is September 11, 2001, and her husband, Michael, will not be coming home at the usual time. Instead this detective with the New York City Police Department will work a grueling 27-hour shift at the site of our nation's largest ever crime scene - the terrorists' attack on the World Trade Center in Manhattan.

Receiving a call from Michael immediately after the tragedy, Arlene, like all Americans, was in a state of shock and disbelief. She would spend the rest of the day at home with Andrew. Finding comfort in music, in prayer and in the Scriptures, Arlene received calls throughout the day learning the whereabouts of family and friends as she was informed that each one in their wide circle of influence was accounted for. Calls came in from across the nation from those who knew that Michael worked for the NYPD, asking if the Blondos were all right, and seeking to find out details of an attack that left our nation stunned and shaken.

As people throughout the city, the nation, and around the world watched continuous replays of that early morning bombing, the NYPD and NYFD frantically searched for signs of life. Any glimmer of hope, any signs of movement or cries for help, sent the workers into a tireless search for life among the smoke and rubble.

The tragedy would take on an even greater meaning for the Blondos, both natives of New York City, who just months earlier, had adopted the baby Arlene held in her arms, a child she knew could have been an unknown statistic among millions of others lost in another tragedy - abortion.

Caught in a suffocating squeeze to abort the child she was carrying, a courageous birth mother in another state broke free from the emotional ties of a birth father demanding to make arrangements to extinguish the life of his unborn child.

But God has other plans for little Andrew.

"Well, if you can't have a baby, then I think it is time to adopt!"

Over 4 years earlier that gentle nudge from a loving grandmother at a large family gathering encouraged the Blondos to pursue adoption. Familiar with Highlands through the Assemblies of God church in Queens where they are members, the Blondos called Highlands, requested that their names be placed on a waiting list, and then filled out the necessary paperwork. Three long years passed as the Blondos endured the most grueling part of the adoption process - the wait.

The teenage birth mother who had fled to Highlands for refuge knew that she would not parent the child forming within her, but neither would she allow the child to die. And it would be the Blondos who would eventually be chosen to parent the child who came to be known as Andrew.

Andrew is a gracious gift

"Look who is 1 year old! I can't believe that a year has passed so soon. As I look at Andrew it still amazes me. I still cannot believe the gracious gift of adoption that God has given us. I have to pinch myself to make sure I am not in some wonderful dream. Andrew is indeed an answer to prayer and a blessing beyond our wildest dreams," Arlene Blondo said in a recent interview.

Andrew's first birthday was celebrated at a gathering with family and friends. His life, spared from abortion, is filled today with all the things that make for a happy childhood and a close-knit, loving family. He enjoys playing with his cousins and being "one of the boys." He beams when he is with them. A smart, independent toddler with determination and energy who enjoys being tickled, kissed, and hugged, is no doubt destined for greatness just like his father and all the heroes of the NYPD and the NYFD.

Alice Jones
Alice E. Jones
Editorial Assistant

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