It was 6:00 a.m. when the phone startled us awake. “Turn on the TV!  America is under attack,” blurted my friend’s voice.I hung up and flipped on the television, waking my husband with my clumsy movements. It really didn’t matter which channel the TV was on . . . the day was September 11, 2001. The television image showed a smoking building with debris falling from the tower in real-time. Our anxious newscaster’s voice, along with devastating video, shot a bolt of panic in us, just as it did for all Americans tuned in to the news that morning.

We woke our kids and had them all climb into our king-sized bed. As we watched and listened in horror, our family took solace in being together. It felt like the world was crumbling to pieces, but being physically together and offering comfort to each other was the much-needed foundation of security for each of us.

During the terror of the next several hours, we were forced to leave the frivolous and focus on the truly important: Gone was the worry of our teenager’s wardrobe choice for the day, whose job it was to do the dishes didn’t cause any contention, running low on gas before the paycheck seemed trivial.

Yes, the terrorists infused confusion, mayhem and even fright in our nation. But the pendulum swings both ways: Patriotism soared, support for our government rose, gratitude for our freedoms increased. And, at least for my husband and myself, acknowledgement of the incomparable blessing of family took first place in our hearts and minds.

We’re a blended family, created biologically and through adoption. Each of our children came to us through series of miracles. While some were trying to terrorize us, as Americans, our attention regularly diverted from the news and was drawn to our children. We recounted the gift of life given to us several times over, sometimes with the help of medical professionals, sometimes through the unselfish act of a birth mother, always with divine intervention.

While the sacrifice of heroes running into burning buildings is different from the sacrifice of those who place their children for adoption, nevertheless, it is sacrifice. And while heroic individuals were sacrificing to save those who couldn’t save themselves, we were reminded of the sacrifice of those who helped us create our family.

And so, each year when our country is struck with somber recollection on 9/11, I am also struck with renewed gratitude for the gift of family and for those who helped in the creation of ours.