“I don’t dream anymore” – Yousef, 13, Palestinian beggar

I glance across the room at my two kids sitting side by side watching “Sponge Bob”. They hum the introductory song off key, but still, they sound beautiful! They look so much alike; dark curly hair, and big dark, almost black, eyes.

I do not recall the exact moment that I decided that I wanted to adopt a child. I have a son, but my plan and God’s plan were not the same, and I was not able to have another. My son wanted a sibling, and always asked, “Why don’t I have a brother? Will I ever have one?”

And so the subject of adoption came up, much to my husband’s dismay. He was satisfied with one child, and felt that adoption was an unusual path to take. He knew his family would not accept it. I did not want my happiness and needs to be controlled by his family, so I did not give up.

For over two years a wall would go around him when I talked about adopting.

By coincidence, family and friends were giving me piles of used clothes to take to orphanages in Palestine. I “invited” my husband to come with me. Reluctantly, he agreed.

I think at this point my work was done and God stepped in, for there we met a little girl who touched my husband’s heart. He decided he wanted to adopt her. Unfortunately, politics made it impossible.

Needless to say, just over a year later, our beautiful daughter, now five, came to brighten our lives.

But that is not where it ends. Last year, our social worker called to tell me that my daughter has a four month old brother, and would we take him? Without discussion, we knew we had to bring these two innocent children together.

Since he has been with us, I have lost my freedom. I walk with chubby hands clinging to my legs, I stumble over toys, and the house is constantly turned upside down. But it does not matter because while the confusion is temporary, the love is forever.

My children softened the hardest hearts. My husband’s attitude changed, and my in-laws, who once turned their faces from me, have opened their hearts and love the children dearly. Some are now sponsoring children in Gaza.

I wish I can help all the children of the world, but that is impossible. I am only one person. So my thoughts stay closer to home – to the children of my community and a bit beyond.

I am disturbed by the discrimination of Arabs in Israel. In Arab cities, there are few opportunities for children to grow or be challenged. They develop a narrow view of the world. I worry about the Palestinian children who leave school, and come to Israel to beg, or try to make a few pennies selling lighters, gum, or worthless toys. I fear for the thousands of orphans resulting from the conflict, and the young Israeli soldiers, M16s hanging from their shoulders, who are learning to oppress and teaching to hate.

Palestine and Israel are sad places where the goodness of the human spirit is wasted on fear, greed, oppression and bitterness.

Palestinian and Israeli women – mothers, wives, sisters - have the same dreams, fears, and needs. We should help ourselves since the government will not. For the sake of the children and their futures, it’s time women took a stand.

My vision is to provide a place where women’s inner strength can be drawn upon. I want to light the flame that has been dampened for so long. Offering a variety of classes, and volunteer and coexistence programs will encourage curiosity, learning, and growth. Women can pass their newfound knowledge to their children. Knowledge brings strength, and powerful women make powerful children.

I hope that one day we will say, “Enough is enough – our children deserve better!”

As a VOF correspondent, I can give a voice to the people in this troubled part of the world whose stories are overlooked by the international media. As a Palestinian living in Israel, not only can I FEEL the stories, but I can TELL them.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Vision.

Comment on this Post


Dear Noreen,

I must admit I was waiting for you to post your last assignment and as always you touched my heart and filled me with mixed emotions - sadness, courage, admire, happiness. Your heart is so warm that can melt any barriers. I am sure that you can encourage many women to follow your lead and cause a change in your community. And hey - you already made a huge difference. You sheltered two lovely children, whose lives will never be the same as they could be. Your personality is impeccable and you deserve the deepest respect. I bow to you! All the best, Ivana

You were waiting for me to post my assignment?? That made me feel so good, as did the rest of your comment. Thanks so much Ivana! What a great compliment you paid me!!


Dear Noreen, thank you for sharing your personal experience. I am glad your husband changed his mind and opened his heart. And even your in-laws changed their feelings towards you and your decisions. Thank you for following your path without giving in. I know that children have the ability, even if they are still babies, to open the adults' hearts and to let the love shine into it. It happened to my parents, too. They did not accept that the father of my son was from Tunisia but even less they accepted that my son was given the surname of his father even if we were not married. Nobody asked how this happened: it was simply my fault! They did not know that it was a disinformation of the registration officer. So at the beginning, especially my mother, refused to even look at my son Saber. My father was much more different. He did not question much on the background even if he was not happy about it. He just opened his heart to this little creature and loved it from the beginning. For my mother it took nearly 4 months. But she opened her heart, too.

Children are the future of our societies and together with the women. I find it a great idea to create a common ground of encounter for women to share and exchange their experiences as mothers. As you say: they all share the same challenges and issues but are separated sometimes by politics and barriers established by them. I am sure you will be able to reach your goal and I wish you all the best for it. Peace to you In friendship and admiration Eliana


Am I right when I say that Italians are quite conservative? Maybe in the smaller villages? I'm guessing that there are a lot of similarities between our cultures? Does your son's name mean "patience"? I'm wondering about the pronounciation. 4 months must be the magical number! It took my mother-in-law about the same time. Once she was ok with it, everyone else was too. The hurt stays in my heart (not towards her - toward the followers!) Some people just can't understand or appreciate the idea of adoption. Just yesterday, after all this time, a good friend finally realized that in my mind, there is no difference between them and my biological son, and my feelings towards them are just the same as hers towards her kids. I have heard so many insensitive comments from people, but then there are some who feel so happy with it that they are moved to tears. Your father is like mine. My kids adore him! As tough as he is, his heart just melts when he sees them. There is a chemistry between him and my daughter and I love watching them together. It is the best thing I have ever done, or ever will do,


Dear Noreen, there surely are some similarities between your culture and the Italian traditions, especially in the little villages or rural areas. The people there are rather conservative and tend to judge before knowing a person. I was really sad, about that initial lack of aceptance from my mother's side because she herself should have known better. Her mother married a Croatian citizen and so she was having a Croatian surname. Even if she grew up in a city in the north of Italy, she faced discrimination because of her surnamen and because her skin is darker than that of the other northeners. I think she felt her pain for her situation coming up again when my son Saber was born. Saber means "patience". It's an Arabic name. In some little villages in the south of Italy the situation of women is even worse than in my village in the north. In the south women are not allowed to work or to go out with friends without permission. The patriarchal system is very strong there. Women and daughters are supposed to marry the man the father choses for them.So many who don't want to do so,escape home with their boyfriends and get pregnant so the families have to accept that they want to stay together. Weell, of course mostly they are too young for marriage (18 or 19 years old) and so they face many challenges and sometimes divorce, which is not well seen in the south: it's like a shame. So many women stay together with violent and dominant husbands not to brake traditions. Women in the south are not allowed to go out to party, discotheque or pubs without a man of the family accompaniying them and looking after them. They don't have the chance of having boyfriends or meeting them. But now things are going to change little by little. It's still al long way to go. I think 4 months is a key-number. I am glad your mother-in-law changed her mind and accepted your children. When the mothers are ok, everything around them turns to be ok too. That#s amazing and it proves, that women and mothers are pilars and milestones to our societies. And essential to a positive development. I think you did the right thing, no matter what others around you thnk or say. It was a decision taken with the heart and that's what matters. And you have a big heart. I sustain a community on Ivory Coast and the children there and one in Haiti, not too close but not too far from the earthquake and every time I get news from them I am so glad and my heart jumps up. Today I have my online classes in "facilitation" in the evening and I hope this time without any tech problems. It's really interesting so many people from different backgrounds all working together for a common purpose and idea. Really interesting. What about your journalism classes? I wish you a peaceful day Eliana


Noreen this is great wallahi , your writing is so powerful habibit , i salute you for the adoption idea and i would love to see your beautiful kids pix

iam so proud of you so much ,i have to meet you on day insha allah and frankly you deserve to be the correspondent to wrold pulse , you can cover stroies in a place which no one would care to write about it .

please keep writing my sister

my love Alia

Shukrun Alia. I felt so good with your words. Adoption is the best thing. They are great kids. I've been so surprised by the people here who tell me it is against the religion. They do not understand!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is the most Islamic thing a person can do. To me, THIS is what our religion is about. There are so many battles but with my kids, I made a small indent.

I would love to be a correspondent, but if I do not make it to the end, I will still post stories here, and continue with my regular writing. That would be great to meet you one day. I would love to go to Syria...........I hear the markets in Damascus are great!! Maybe one day we can meet up in Jordan. Do you ever go there? I haven't been in a few years, but it's a couple hours drive from me.

Inshaallah we will get to know each other as friends and sisters!

Love, Noreen

yes sure , you did a great thing when u adopted your kids ,i would be happy if you come to syria and we can meet in jordan too ,i know jordan very well

please keep in touch my sister

love you Alia

Noreeeen sweetheart ! You really touched my heart - made my hands smile !!!!!! I can completely relate to your post ! I have been talking to a lot of girls recently about adoption - I personally liked to adopt a child, even if someday I have my own. My discussion with girls seemed to take a whole new front when religion came in - I was stunned to hear one say ' adoption is not allowed in islam' :S :S Thankfully I was aware of the details of islamic adoption by which I could 'disarm' her misconception. I have no idea how girls fall for that but her family seems to hold those views. For the love of God, What can be more islamic than adopting a kid !!

I am so happy for you - I hope you share more stories about your kids :-)

With Love and Kindness

Shukran Okhti !

Thanks Farona! If you feel that adoption is for you, then go ahead and do it. There are too many kids that need good homes. I heard so many ignorant and rude comments from people when I adopted the first child. And people are not shy to speak their opinions. And I also hear the same thing you did - that it is not allowed in Islam. This is so untrue. What bothered me is that some of the people who said that are the ones who are religious - but I educateD them about this aspect of the religion!! I just can not understand how some people can respect the pillars of Islam (so easy to do), yet have a hard time accepting a child without a home. To me, THIS is what Islam is about! Anyway, these adoptions, in a way, opened my eyes to the people around me, and in some cases has determined my relationships with them. I felt that the people who accepted them really love me because they wanted my happiness. And then there are some who tried to discourage me, and some who till now are so curious they want to know the kids backgrounds, and everyone wants to know if they are biological sister and brother, which I really don't think is their business. I don't know how to answer rudeness with rudeness but I work my way around it. These kids are blessings, part of me............but this experience has also been an eye opener.

Love, Noreen

I am glad with your adoption you will able to set examples and dispel myths . Islam is not just about praying, fasting, and paying zakah ! Where’s the love ? and social responsibility as Muslims :S I am stunned !

There are certainly too many kids without homes – I find it absolutely strange when I find couples with no children of their own refuse to adopt. To them, trying to have kids of their own, is the wisest choice.

More people would have adopted if only it was socially acceptable. Most individuals do socially acceptable things, so much so that even if they do not wish to adopt personally – they will go and adopt for social reasons !

It is during difficult circumstances we able to differentiate foe’s and friends :S people who believed in you are true friends and well wishers, others just want to help you, be there for you , as they ‘see fit’.

I encountered a similar experience recently. My sister suffered from TB – and many refused to talk to her even on phone ! as if Smart phones can transfer TB, swine flu these days :S And those who did talk, asked weird questions like “ if I touch you would I get TB?”:S we sisters joked about these strange misconceptions a lot ! (LOL) that was refreshing !

I am proud of you sister !

Fi-Aman Allah !

It is so heartwarming to listen to someone else's voice from halfway around the world...when they feel the same way I do! The love you feel for your children is a love and passion for your community and the world which you can really feel in your writing!


Hi Pheebsabroad,

Thank you! I think there are many people worldwide who share our feeling about adoption, but the question is: are they willing to do it? For me, it's been great, and I feel that these kids are part of me just as my oldest son is. Every once in a while, my husband looks at them with a smile, and shakes his head, amazed that we did this...........and it took me 2 years to convince him!!!

I always tell him "women know best"!!!


Hi noreens - I agree with the other posts that your voice is one that should be heard and highlighted through WorldPulse, and I think that your biggest gifts are love, generosity and the guts and determination to make changes, and go against the crowds. I wish you all of the luck in working in your community and teaching your children to be better citizens of society, and I hope for you that your national leaders figure out a way to solve their dispute so that another generation does not have to be affected. Best of luck to you in achieving your goals. - Jennifer

Thanks Jennifer. Your comment means a lot to me! It bothers me because there are so many changes that can be made in my town, but change is happening in the wrong way. There are many things going against us, but I thnk that there are also a lot of people who want to see a change. I think after so many years of the same or worse situation, people are discouraged. I hope one day things will change too but I think it is going to take lots of time.


Dear Noreens, I am here as part of the listener group to congratulate you on this last assignment. Your story is very inspiring and touchy. It is beautiful to see how you´ve the consciousness of those around you with simples but deep gestures. I wish I had that power too...I am trying to give another example for those around be as well...I am still missing that feed back, but I will keep on working, someday I will find the my best expression. I am glad to know that you´ve already found yours. I am very sorry for what is happening on your region, my fathers family is jewish and I have to say that I am not proud of their behavior on the Palestine issue. It is really sad to see how they play the victm in order to excuse their attacks. Segregation is obviously not the answer, if the jewish don´t understand that after all they had gonne throught I don´t know who else could. I am not comming back to Israel until this policy falls. I refuse on going to taglit travelling experience to be brainwashed into supporting this blind country. I have a dream to live in a world where we could respect our differences but still acknoledge that every human creature has the same rights as we do. Let´s keep fighting for that, starting to raise counsciousness on those among us, changing the structure from the inside out. I wish you all the best and good luck with everything :-)

Thank you! You say you are trying to make a change in your community - just wondering what you are trying to do? Whatever it is, remember that change takes time. Don't give up! Your words about the political situation here touched me. Most of the stories in the media are about the West Bank and people often forget about the Palestinians who are in Israel. There are many tours to Israel, but the tourists are never taken to the Arab towns here, so they end up leaving and not seeing the whole picture. Let's hope one day there will be a change in all this..............and if you ever come here, you are more then welcome to visit me!