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upworthy
Joy

Woman reunites with her family 51 years after being kidnapped

Melissa Highsmith never even knew her real family was searching for her.

dna test for missing kids

The family celebrate their reunion following a decades long search

In 1971, Melissa Highsmith was kidnapped from her home in Fort Worth, Texas. Her disappearance has been one of the oldest missing person cases in America. Now, she gets to celebrate a long-awaited reunion with her family in what she calls a “Christmas miracle.”

As ABC affiliate WFAA reported, Melissa’s mother, Alta (who now goes by Alta Apantenco) had put out an ad for a babysitter to watch over her then 21-month-old while she was at work. A white gloved, well-dressed woman going by the name of Ruth Johnson responded to the call, but she was no babysitter. After Johnson picked up baby Melissa from Apantenco’s roommate, the two were never seen again.

As any parents would do in this situation, the Highsmiths worked tirelessly to find their little girl, involving the Fort Worth police and even the FBI. Sadly, it was all to no avail. The only glimmer of hope remaining was that there was no evidence of harm, so maybe, just maybe, their Melissa was being well taken care of. And for 51 years, the family held onto that possibility.



Meanwhile, Melissa—who never remembered being kidnapped—led a hard life with the woman who claimed to be her mother. "I didn't feel loved as a child. It was abusive, and I ran away at 15 years old. I went to the streets. I did what I had to do to get by... I worked the streets," she shared in a one-on-one interview with WFAA.

Then in September, everything would change. After receiving a failed tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that Melissa had been sighted, her father Jeffrie Highsmith (now divorced from Apantenco) decided to try his luck with DNA testing. DNA testing service 23andMe came back with a match linking him to Highsmith. Their son Jeff (Melissa’s brother) then found her on Facebook and reached out.

Even though Melissa was skeptical, she was shown a baby picture by the Highsmiths which she admitted looked like her “twin.” According to Good Morning America, Melissa had a special birthmark and celebrated a birthday very close to the child taken all those years ago.

Any remaining shadows of doubt immediately disappeared when Melissa confronted the woman she thought was her mother. "The person that raised me, I asked her is there anything you need to tell me and it was confirmed that she knew that I was baby Melissa so that just made it real," she told FOX 25.

In perhaps the strangest twist of fate, Melissa and her family had been so close, yet so far this entire time—living less than 20 minutes apart.

That discovery is not without its bittersweetness, but so far the family is focusing on making up for lost time and celebrating their reunion.

"I’m just elated, I can't describe my feelings. I'm so happy to see my daughter that I didn't think I would ever see again," Apantenco told WFAA. "I feel like I am dreaming and I keep having to pinch myself to make sure I'm awake," Melissa added.

On their shared Facebook Group page the family wrote, “the joy is palpable amongst all family members” adding that finding Melissa “was purely because of DNA, not because of any police / FBI involvement, podcast involvement, or even our family’s own private investigations or speculations.” They are not alone. Previously a man kidnapped in 1964 found his real family using different ancestry services. There are still miles to go in terms of diversifying DNA databases, but DNA testing has taken on an increasingly significant role in finding missing persons over the years, and continues to be a game changer.

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As for the newly reunited Highsmith family, the plan is to simply take things day by day. According to WFAA, Melissa has officially adopted her birth name (she had previously gone by “Melanie”), and is even planning on remarrying her current husband so that her father can walk down the aisle. These are sure to be hard won memories the entire family will cherish forever.

A woman is shocked to learn that her name means something totally different in Australia.

Devyn Hales, 22, from California, recently moved to Sydney, Australia, on a one-year working visa and quickly learned that her name wouldn’t work Down Under. It all started when a group of men made fun of her on St. Patrick’s Day.

After she introduced herself as Devyn, the men laughed at her. "They burst out laughing, and when I asked them why, they told me devon is processed lunch meat,” she told The Daily Mail. It's similar to baloney, so I introduce myself as Dev now,” she said in a viral TikTok video with over 1.7 million views.

For those who have never been to Australia, Devon is a processed meat product usually cut into slices and served on sandwiches. It is usually made up of pork, basic spices and a binder. Devon is affordable because people buy it in bulk and it’s often fed to children. Australians also enjoy eating it fried, like spam. It is also known by other names such as fritz, circle meat, Berlina and polony, depending on where one lives on the continent. It's like in America, where people refer to cola as pop, soda, or Coke, depending on where they live in the country.


So, one can easily see why a young woman wouldn’t want to refer to herself as a processed meat product that can be likened to boloney or spam. "Wow, love that for us," another woman named Devyn wrote in the comments. “Tell me the name thing isn't true,” a woman called Devon added.

@dhalesss

#fypシ #australia #americaninaustralia #sydney #aussie

Besides changing her name, Dev shared some other differences between living in Australia and her home country.

“So everyone wears slides. I feel like I'm the only one with 'thongs'—flip-flops—that have the little thing in the middle of your big toe. Everyone wears slides,” she said. Everyone wears shorts that go down to your knees and that's a big thing here.”

Dev also noted that there are a lot of guys in Australia named Lachlan, Felix and Jack.

She was also thrown off by the sound of the plentiful magpies in Australia. According to Dev, they sound a lot like crying children with throat infections. “The birds threw me off,” she said before making an impression that many people in the comments thought was close to perfect. "The birds is so spot on," Jess wrote. "The birds, I will truly never get used to it," Marissa added.

One issue that many Americans face when moving to Australia is that it is more expensive than the United States. However, many Americans who move to Australia love the work-life balance. Brooke Laven, a brand strategist in the fitness industry who moved there from the U.S., says that Aussies have the “perfect work-life balance” and that they are “hard-working” but “know where to draw the line.”

Despite the initial cultural shocks, Devyn is embracing her new life in Australia with a positive outlook. “The coffee is a lot better in Australia, too,” she added with a smile, inspiring others to see the bright side of cultural differences.

Family

Smart mom leaves babysitter a list of 'add-on' chores to make more money if she chooses

“You are more than welcome to hang out and watch TV all night, but if you want to make some extra $, these jobs are up for grabs.”

via KIvanKC/TikTok and KIvanKC/TikTok. Images used with permission.

Katrina Ivan's list for her babysitter.

A mother in Missouri has found a way to maximize date night with her husband. She left a note for her babysitter, giving her options to make more side cash by completing small tasks around the home.

The goal was to have a night out and to return to a cleaner and better-organized home. It makes sense. Most of the time, babysitters just sit around while the kid sleeps, so why not make their time more productive and profitable?

Katrina Ivan, a science teacher, posted the list she sent her babysitter on TikTok and the video received over 1.5 million views.


​“You are more than welcome to hang out and watch TV all night, but if you want to make some extra $, these jobs are up for grabs,” Katrina wrote to her babysitter, a senior in high school whom she’s known for 4 years.

babysitters, babysitter prices, katrina ivan

Katrina's list for the babysitter.

via KIvanKC/TikTok Used with permission.

When the babysitter saw the list, she was excited to get to work and started cleaning the windows 10 minutes after Katrina and her husband left the house. Katrina realized her plan was working when she saw her cleaning the windows through her Ring camera. “She was like, ‘Heck ya!' and got to work right away,” Katrina told Today.com. "I left all the supplies out for her so she didn't have to feel weird hunting around for things."

By the end of the night, the babysitter was able to clean the mirrors and windows, organize the toys, vacuum the couch and scrub and organize the silverware drawer.

"I think this is a great opportunity for your babysitter. You’re giving a choice, and I love that," Lisa B wrote in the comments on the video. "This is a great idea!! Sometimes it’s boring to just to sit and watch TV. This makes time go by quicker and sometimes it’s things I would do to help," Del added.

Most commenters applauded Katrina’s idea, although some thought she could pay a little better.

"I think $10 is too cheap for some of these tasks considering the amount of work/size of the mess," Liz wrote. In a follow-up video, Katrina broke down the money she paid the babysitter that night.

@kivankc

Replying to @LISA B │✨ what i'm learning ✨ #greenscreen

Katrina agreed that the prices could go up a bit. "I’ll definitely be restructuring the prices to make this more fair in the future," she wrote. However, she added that she paid the babysitter $75 for the night just to watch her 2-year-old son, who was asleep most of the time.

All in all, the sitter made $28.75 an hour, tax-free. Not bad at all.

In another follow-up, Katrina interviewed the babysitter, who said she enjoyed making some extra money. “That sounds great,” she said.

What questions do you have for the newly famous babysitter? She’s along for the ride, and enjoys the spotlight. Loving the money, and crushing the jobs we leave for her. Sorry friends, but she’s not available to book-this kid is wayyy to busy between date night babysitting for us, earning perfect grades, being involved in a zillion after school activiites, and taking night time Fire/EMS classes at night so she can start her CAREER fresh out of high school. Do I sound a little proud?!?

@kivankc

What questions do you have for the newly famous babysitter? She’s along for the ride, and enjoys the spotlight. Loving the money, and crushing the jobs we leave for her. Sorry friends, but she’s not available to book-this kid is wayyy to busy between date night babysitting for us, earning perfect grades, being involved in a zillion after school activiites, and taking night time Fire/EMS classes at night so she can start her CAREER fresh out of high school. Do I sound a little proud?!? #sorrynotsorry #sillyinterview #babysitter #bestbabysitter #sidequests #meetmybabysitter #cheers #toddlermom #momlife

This article originally appeared on 2.6.24

Health

Dentist explains the 3 times you should never brush your teeth

Sometimes not brushing your teeth is the best way to protect them.

Representative Image from Canva

Add this to the list of things you didn't learn in health class.

For those who love the oh-so fresh feeling of immediately running to brush their teeth after a meal, we got some bad news.

London-based dental surgeon and facial aesthetics practitioner Dr. Shaadi Manouchehri recently shocked around 12 million viewers on TikTok after sharing the three occasions when you should “never” be scrubbing those pearly whites—if you want to actually protect your teeth, that is.

The hardest part about this video, which some viewers are undoubtedly still processing, is that each of these no-no times is exactly when brushing your teeth is the only thing you’ll want to do. So much for instincts.


Number one on Manouchehri’s list, which caused the most controversy in the comments, isright after vomiting. Yep, you read that right.

“This is because the contents of the stomach are extremely acidic and the mouth is already in a very acidic state so if you brush straight after [vomiting] you’re basically wearing away your enamel,” Manouchehri explained.

Of course, commenters weren’t willing to let this one go without a fight. One viewer wrote, “I would rather lose all of my teeth than not brush after vomiting.”

Manouchehri also says to avoid brushing your teeth directly after eating breakfast. This is because “when you’ve just eaten, the mouth is, again in a “very acidic state,” so if you’re brushing your teeth you’re rubbing that acid on the tooth, which wears down the enamel.” Other sources have also confirmed that brushing your teeth tight after any meal isn’t really recommended.

This goes double for right after sweets. Manouchehri says to wait a full 60 minutes before putting a toothbrush anywhere near your mouth after having something sugary. Because…you guessed it…acid.

Does this advice seem counterintuitive? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

@drshaadimanouchehri #dentist #dentistry #dentaladvice #learnontiktok #funfacts #londondentist #dentalcleaning #teethbrushing #teethbrushingmadeeasy #teethbrushingtips #londondentistry #marylebonedentist #fypシ ♬ original sound - Dr Shaadi Manouchehri

“Ah, yes, the three times I want to brush my teeth more than any other time,” one person joked.

Luckily, there are few alternatives to try if you want that good, clean mouth feeling but don’t want to compromise your enamel—the simplest being to either rinse with or drink water. You can also use sugar-free chewing gum or conclude your meal with dairy or non-acidic foods, according to Advanced Dental Associates. If you still crave a little more of a hygiene bang, you can opt for a mouthwash with fluoride and using a tongue cleaner, which removes excess acid, per Curetoday.com.

Guess there’s a time and a place for everything, even when it comes to dental hygiene.

Pop Culture

Nicole Kidman shares the unconventional marriage rule she has with husband Keith Urban

They've had this communication rule since the very beginning of their 18 year relationship.

Keith Urban (left) Nicole Kidman (right)

Long before Nicole Kidman began her long-term relationship with AMC theaters, she was committed to husband and country singer Keith Urban. The two have happily been together since 2006—which is a good run for any modern day marriage, but most certainly a Hollywood one.

And perhaps their nearly decades-long success can be partially attributed to one surprising communication rule: no texting.

While appearing on the Something To Talk About podcast in 2023, Kidman shared that she was the one who initiated the unconventional agreement.

"We never text each other, can you believe that? We started out that way – I was like, 'If you want to get a hold of me, call me…"I wasn't really a texter.,” the “Moulin Rouge” actress shared.

She added that while Urban did attempt texting her a few items early on, he eventually switched when Kidman wasn’t very responsive. And now, 18 years later, they only call each other.

“We just do voice to voice or skin to skin, as we always say. We talk all the time and we FaceTime but we just don’t text because I feel like texting can be misrepresentative at times…I don’t want that between my lover and I,” she told Parade

.

There are, of course, some pros and cons to calling over texting. Research has shown that people who call feelmore connected to one another vs. texting, with the voice being an integral component of bonding. As our society becomes increasingly more distant and lonely, finding those moments might be more important than ever.

At the same time, calling can invoke a lot more anxiety compared to texting, which could lead someone to not communicating at all. Also, I don’t know about you, but the thought of having to call my partner for mundane things like “don’t forget the eggs” would drive me crazy.

But regardless of whether or not you adopt Kidman and Urban’s no-texting rule, perhaps the bigger takeaway is that relationship longevity depends on being able to establish your own rules. One that feels good and that each partner is able to stick to. Especially when it comes to communication.

As Urban himself told E! News at the CMT Music Awards, "I have no advice for anybody,You guys figure out whatever works for you…We're figuring it out. You figure it out. Everybody's different. There's no one size fits all."

Luckily, there are many ways to have good text hygiene, without having to do away with it completely. Very Well Mind suggests to avoid texting too many questions, and to be respectful of your partner's schedule (probably best to not text them while they’re sleeping just to say “hey,” for example). Nor should texting be used to argue or deal with conflict. Lastly, probably save the lengthy, in-depth conversations for a phone call. Fifteen heart emojis are totally fine though.

@tallulah.roseb/TikTok

Maybe she's born with it. But maybe it just modern day cosmetics.

A woman named Tallulah Rose recently went viral after sharing a well-intentioned, but oh-so misinformed compliment men tend to give her. It left a lot of other women nodding in agreement, because it revealed what still seems to be a common beauty myth.

"I actually just, like, don't understand men and how their brain works sometimes because today I was just minding my own business when this guy comes up to me and is like ‘you are so elegant, you are such a natural beauty,'" she said in the clip.

Of course, Rose is positive any other woman would instantly know that the beauty men are responding to is anything but natural.


“I think a woman can take one look at me and be like … this is fake,” she said before breaking down the costs of enhancements she’s made.

“My jawline cost $10,000, okay? My lips are clearly done. My hair is $2000, my lashes are $200 every two weeks.”

jawline cosmetic surgery, natural cosmetic procedures

"My jawline costs $10,000, okay?"

@tallulah.roseb/TikTok

She then lifted her bangs to show a wrinkle-less forehead and immovable eyebrows, thanks to Botox or some other kind of anti-wrinkle injection. Plus, she has “enough makeup on to season a f***ing wok.”

Still, men will wistfully tell her “ 'they don't make them like you do these days.” to which Rose quipped, “yes they do with a needle and a scalpel!”

plastic surgery, cosmetic procedures

"They don't make 'em like you these days…yes they do! With a needle and a scalpel!"

@tallulah.roseb/TikTok

Since sharing this hot take, Rose’s video has garnered over 12 million views on TikTok and has been shared across several platforms. Most of the comments came from women who have had their own fair share of this experience.

Some were just as hilarious as the original video.

"My husband was like 'please never get Botox' If I could raise my eyebrows at him I would have,” one person wrote.

Another added, ““I’ve had male friends remark how I don’t wear heavy makeup like other girls. I spend at least 30 mins a day putting my face on.”

Over on X, people were just refreshed by Rose’s honesty.

Rose told news.com.au that many men “genuinely can’t tell the difference between a natural woman and a woman that has had cosmetic surgery,” primarily due to seeing celebrities who have had work done and assuming that’s the standard. She’ll often ask male friends to name a celebrity crush, and “they’ll name someone that has clearly had work done but they are just quite clueless to it.”

And that is really where the important conversation comes in. Unrealistic beauty standards aren’t necessarily a new issue. But now the paradox of cosmetic procedures being stigmatized while at the same time not even acknowledged in much of what is touted as natural beauty puts women in an impossible position. They can’t naturally live up to these expectations, and then are labeled as fake if they do make efforts to look enhanced (which is the new normal…make it make sense).

Point is: Praising a woman for her “natural beauty” might be intended as a compliment. But for many, it’s neither true, nor a compliment.