The first US woman to adopt internationally shares her inspiring story

The first US woman to adopt internationally shares her inspiring story

Marjorie Margolies knows a thing or two about parenting, and in her new memoir, “And How Are The Children?” the mom of 11 kids shares how she became the first single woman in the U.S. believed to have adopted internationally.

In 1970, Margolies was a TV reporter when an assignment took her to Korea for a series on adoption. She returned home with the beginning of her own story — a 7-year-old daughter named Lee Heh.

“(She) stuck out her hand (and) said, ‘How do you do,’ and that was the only thing she knew how to say,” Margolies told TODAY’s Hoda Kotb on Tuesday. “So sweet.”

Margolies became the first single woman to adopt internationally in the United States of America.

“I knew I wanted to parent,” Margolies said. “I didn’t know if and when I would marry. I also knew that I had done all these stories on hard-to-place kids, and I thought, ‘Hmm, that’s something that I could do.’ I realized the challenges.”

Three years later, while covering a story in Vietnam, Margolies adopted Holly.

“Holly was impossible,” Margolies shared. “She smoked. She was 6 years old. She was a pickpocket.”

What appeared as a full plate for the intrepid reporter and single mom of two young girls was just the beginning of Margolies’ story.

In 1975, she married Congressman Ed Mezvinsky, who had four daughters of his own. The couple would go on to have two biological children.

But even as a family of ten, Margolies had only one answer when asked to take in a family of refugees: “Let’s do it.”

So, a family of five refugees from Vietnam moved in with the family.

“They lived with us for 25 years,” Margolies shared.

A household of 15 kept things interesting.

“I could tell you if we ever had guests, Holly would walk in and she’d say, ‘Are we gonna adopt any of these people?'” Margolies told TODAY. “And it was fun. It was fun.”

Through it all, Margolies never gave up her professional pursuits. In 1992, she ran for Congress and won, serving for two years as a congresswoman from Pennsylvania.

With fourteen other people at home, Margolies’ house was described as a “magic circus.”

“The circus part is right,” she said. “The magical is a little bit of an exaggeration.”

But in 2016, heartbreak arrived. Holly passed away from cancer at age 48.

“There’s just nothing like losing a child,” Margolies said. “People will say, ‘Time will heal.’ Sometimes it does but sometimes it really doesn’t.”

Margolies said her late daughter “was amazing” and left an incredible legacy, including two children.

Today, Margolies spends as much time as she can with her 21 grandchildren.

She shares her role as a proud grandparent with former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Her son, Mark, is married to their daughter, Chelsea.

Reflecting back on parenting, Margolies said she loved the curiosity and challenges.

“I got myself to the point that I was not going to feel guilty, being at work and not being with the kids, or being with the kids and not being at work,” she said. “I was going to reconcile that and understand that that’s what made me a better mother.”