Thursday, May 3, 2012

An engineer on our hands?

 "Look at my castle Mommy!" This is what she says at least once a week--to be conservative about it. Her blocks are one of the first things she plays with. And her building has gotten more and more elborate. One day she had taken a couple boxes and made a bridge from one box to another and then over to the Castle.

And she likes to take pictures of her feats of engineering and creativity. She took these pictures--I found them on her i-touch.

Engineering is a creative art in itself. It will be fascinating to see what her chosen profession and hobbies will be. 

She constantly surprises us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Power of Prayer...HOPE, FAITH and LOVE!

 As I read through this post (click here to read the whole story--you will be inspired and in awe) --it got more and more personal. I've read so many articles about amazing orphans and live with one everyday. But this story is personal. Personal because this amazing young man grew up in the same orphanage Izabella lived for 18 months. They might have passed in the hallways perhaps--or met at an activity day. They are what I like to call "Ophanage Brother and Sister". And the orphanage director that reaches out to help save CongCong's life--is the same one that worked to help Izabella find us and we met him the day she met us, and finalized her adoption with us the following day (see picture of him and our new family below.)

So...I am more than compelled to ask you--to reach out to CongCong with your prayers! He needs our Love, and Prayers to save his life.

As Kelly R (yup..this request and article about CongCong came to us from that really special Kelly that sent our Izabella's pic to us for the first time) posted on her blog: 

CongCong (an orphanage brother to Izabella) in the hospital fighting Leukemia.

Lisa, Izabella, Director of Xian City CWI, and Dan on Adoption Day--Oct 2009

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

"From you mommy!"

Izabella and I took a quick walk to the park tonight before dinner tonight. Spring is 4-6 weeks early! It's only the end of March--and we've had summer weather for a few weeks now. Izabella has already taken a dip in her pool on the deck--and we're lovin' it.

Izabella was so excited to give her baby a ride too! So she scurried around and packed a little bag for her. Strapped her safely in the stroller and even got her some sunglasses to protect her eyes! The best part was watching all this happen--and listening to her loving little chatter to her all the while. As we headed out she said, "Mommy this is my daughter. She looks like me." Yes she does Izabella. It was the reason I picked that dolly--not only is it an Asian doll--but it has a striking ressemblance to you.

We took our dog Sadie with us on our walk--so I had cautioned her, if there were other children at the park--I'd need to stay with Sadie and she'd need to play by herself, without help from Mommy. She assured me that was fine--after all she had her daughter to play with and they were going to take a ride down the slide together. When we arrived at the park she asked me to watch the stroller and she tenatively headed to the playground equipment. After a bit of coaxing--she made her way down the slide--with baby between her legs. A few minutes later she ran back over carefully placed her baby in the stroller..covered her up with the little blanket to keep the bugs and sun out of her eyes and went on to play a few more minutes.

Soon it was time to leave and she gently talked to her baby as we walked. I said, "Izabella you're such a good mommy! " she said, "I know." I said, "You do? Well, how'd you learn to be such a great mommy?" she replied immediately and much to my surprise. She said,"You Mommy. You are a great mom to me. And I am a great Mommy to my baby. That's how. Simple. I just do what you do." Ok, a tear of sweet joy in my heart as I write this!

On our way home, we ran into a neighbor friend and she asked Izabella, "What's your baby's name?" Izabella replied, as she busily fussed over her baby, "China Doll." She has only named two of the MANY animals and babies she has. She named the little lamb my friend Laura (a sheep farmer) gave her and I brought to China for her--the little lamb's name is Franny. And a spotted horse my sister and her husband gave her--named "China." Now all spotted horses are named "China." or so she thinks. Interesting.

One more memorable conversation from today (there are many but these stood out and I wanted to remember them):

This morning on the way to school she wanted to know if she could wear make-up when she a big girl. I explained she doesn't need make up. She's beautiful without any and always would be no matter how "big" (old) she gets. That's when something strange happened--her face dropped into a VERY SAD place and with tears welling up in her beautiful brown eyes and she said,"Oh, but mommy- I don't want to have white skin ! I like my peach skin. I don't want to lose it!" What? I have no idea what putting make-up on and losing your skin color has to do with anything--is it the foundation I put on? Perhaps. What I do know is she has been pre-occupied with her skin color vs. ours since early on. So, we have talked about it in a special way--which it is! And we love her peach skin. She even proclaimed her discovery one day that she's Peach and White. See!" As she showed me the inside of her arm, "I have white skin like you here--and peach skin here!" She wasn't convinced I was right about her keeping her peach skin, until I explained that before you're born--God decides what color skin you're going to have. And you have that skin color all your life! He gives some people white skin, others brown skin, others peach skin and some brown skin. But, no matter what--all people get to keep their skin color chosen specially for them--forever!

I am consistently fascinated by the way she sees the world. And challenged sometimes with how to answer--I'm sure all Mom's are. Thank you God for giving me the most precious gift of her and for allowing me the honor to be a Mommy--Izabella's Mommy.

Izabella--Mommy loves you do deeply! You are my heart, my dream come true, my everything!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Meeting Daddy After school...

For a quick picnic date! A surprise for Izabella a JOY for us!
Beautiful day! Of course NOTE: her special friend "Franny" had to join us! Laura if you're out there following us--THANK YOU Again and Again. This little sweet lamb had become a very special friend.

"I love you daddy! I should have brought my puppies! They would love this!"

Monday, March 26, 2012

Nap-time! So Sweet!

She was so tired today! Just grabbed her special Franny (lamb given to her by one of my best friends from high school -- Laura--and also the only stuffed animal toy we brought to China with us) and curled up for some shut-eye!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our Magic Boat Journey to and Over the Ocean

Click HERE to Watch our Video of this Magical Trip

It is not possible to put into words--what it’s like to share this magical trip with a little girl that was “watching the world from the inside out” for so long. And then had her world opened up to her--just like Jasmine--taken for a ride on Aladin’s Magic Carpet--she was awed at every turn. Her world will never be the same--and she is very grateful for that. She says it with her words, her eyes and every single breath she takes.

This face was worth all the wait--the saving--the sweating--the work. :) Priceless! She just say the princesses arrive on the upper deck!

We packed up our bags and put them outside our door--for pick-up to head home--and then scurried down the hallway--in a HUGE hurry-to catch the Mickey “See ya Real Soon” show. Her little hand in mine--she said, “Mom. You’re the best Mom in the whole world!” Clearly she was delighted that I would take her to see the Characters one more time. Daddy thought it was too late--ok it was late--but this was a once in a lifetime trip (or so we thought before we went--now we dream of another voyage with Disney) and I didn’t want her to miss a thing. So--we went--Daddy hung back at the room and relaxed.

When we got there--the Characters were signing Autographs again--we had brought our book--and she was delighted to meet Daisy for the first time--and we both had to say “See Ya Later” to Mickey--and thank him for a magical voyage. And then she insisted on seeing Princess Belle one more time. Where we were blessed with another special moment--as Belle said to her “Don’t worry Izabella--we’ll see you again soon!” We both stopped and looked at her and I said, ‘Izabella, how did she remember your name? Wow! You must be very special!”

Indeed she is--every where we went--the staff at the pool, the wait staff, the stateroom hostess--EVERYWHERE--they referred to her as PRINCESS. Even if she didn’t have her crown on. You can recognize a true princess even if she doesn’t have a crown on--just by the way she carries herself, and by the way she treats people. If you’re a true princess--it shows all over you from the inside out. Daddy and I knew she was royalty when we met her--and everyday she proves this is so.

One of the moments in this video--that I un-wittingly caught on video--was how Chip and Dale treated our little princess. If you watch close--you’ll see how he treats her with such tender, loving, gentle care--and then does something that chokes me up just thinking about it--while on bended knee--HE KISSED her little hand. Watch her face light up as she looks to me after!

This is also evident at the Princess Gathering in the Grand Atrium of the ship. She is wearing Belle’s Christmas Ball Gown--on loan from one of the other little girls waiting in line ahead of us. The minute she put that dress on--she stepped into princess mode--and never fell out. Watch her as the princesses arrive--and as she plays with the other princesses as they wait the arrival of the princesses. Her hands--and her facial expressions. She often looks down at her lap--as if to remind herself--she really is a princess--lifts her head--and kicks into princess style with the hand movements and facial expressions and kind words of encouragement and direction. It’s a treasure to watch in real life--and on video.  And Ahhhh...the magic of sharing this magical boat with other little girls that have the same journey she did! Little Jasmine happens to be a travel buddy of a family in our local group of families that adopted from China! God is so good! The companionship of the America world Families--was a treasure. 

Another magical moment--that was NON-Disney--was our trip to the ocean in Cocoa Beach. I spent 10 years in California--so I was familiar with the ocean--they had never been. So watching them experience the sand, the beach and all the treasures of the sea--was so SWEET. This section of the video always brings a tear to my heart--as I think of how far we’ve come. When I see the pictures of MY family on the beach--I think of how far I’ve come since the days on the beaches of California--single and wanting a family to share it with. Last week on the shores of Florida--I realized that dream too. And sharing it with them is a HUGE treasure. If you listen to the words of the Disney song playing--”I see the Light-from the Disney Movie Tangled” it describes exactly what I was thinking when we were there--parts of it even make me wonder if this isn’t exactly what Izabella was thinking too--on the days after she met us in China and on that sandy beach last week.

I See the Light Lyrics

From Tangled (Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi)
All those days

Watching from the windows

All those years
Outside looking in

All that time

Never even knowing

Just how blind I’ve been
Now I’m here

Blinking in the starlight

Now I’m here

Suddenly I see

Standing here

It’s oh, so clear

I’m where I’m meant to be

And at last, I see the light

And it’s like the fog has lifted

And at last, I see the light

And it’s like the sky is new

And it’s warm and real and bright

And the world has somehow shifted

All at once

Everything looks different

Now that I see you
All those days

Chasing down a daydream

All those years

Living in a blur

All that time

Never truly seeing

Things the way they were

Now she’s here

Shining in the starlight

Now she’s here

Suddenly I know

If she’s here

It’s crystal clear

I’m where I’m meant to go

And at last, I see the light

And it’s like the fog has lifted

And at last, I see the light

And it’s like the sky is new

And it’s warm and real and bright

And the world has somehow shifted

All at once

Everything is different

Now that I see you

Now that I see you

After The Cast of Disney Characters headed up the stairs to bed--and the Golden Shine-y papers floated down on us in celebration of an amazing voyage--she looked up at me and said, “Mommy. That was SO FUN!” I said, ‘Oh Yes it was. Thank you for such a great trip Izabella. I had so much fun too.” She said, “NO! THANK-YOU Mom!” How can a 4-year old understand that kind of gratitude.

Sooo many wonderful moments--I will treasure--all because I shared them with my sweet daughter Izabella and the man that made her a reality in our life. But none as treasured as her! She’s a treasure beyond my imagination.

I only hope someday she understands--how grateful I am--to call her my daughter! That my words of gratitude--although seem silly to her right now-are the truth of my heart. She made this trip so magical.

And every Disney Crew Member--clearly made this a magical trip--and very special to this tender, very special little girl.

Thank-you God. Thank-you. 

Mommy! I Danced with Donald!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Please Read!

If you are a follower of our journey to Izabella--you'll love this book --Chasing China; A Daughter's Quest for Truth [Kindle Edition] $2.99 @ I

It is an easy read--and I (a very slow reader) read it in a matter of hours. I can't stress enough what an important work this book is in the plight of orphans around the world. I promise it will touch you deeply--in places you never knew existed.

I believe --A good book stays with you after you turn the last page....this one did!

I'm not a huge reader or even movie-goer. I would like to be, but never find time to read or sit through a movie, and if I do, I lose interest easily. I can't watch a movie, or read a book more than once (with a very few exceptions). But those few I do get through--that I love the most--are those that get my gears moving and I can't shake it out of my head for days! The book or movie that seemed to reach into a part of my heart I didn't know existed--and bring it to the forefront in an astonishingly BIG way. Leaving me thinking about it's impact and what to do about it for days. This one--is one of those books! I'm still struggling with what to with the part of me this book touched--that's hitting me in the face everyday now that I've read it.

After finishing it--I looked at my precious daughter and couldn't separate Mia from her for days. The only word I have for that feeling is 'haunting"! Kay Bratt's ability to carry me with ease through this book-and leave me haunted by the facts in this fictional story--are a gift-to me and anyone who reads it.

I immediately wanted everyone I know--adoption family or not-to read it--so they would stop with the assumptions about the reason she is our daughter--her history. They'd open their minds and hearts to the plight of a reality that is so far from the comfort of the arms of their beautiful--but oh so protective---I'd even say cocooned-- families. I wanted them to read it so they would understand--there are so many children out there--that need the love of a family. That their life challenges are so far from our imagination--we can not begin to imagine the heart ache-the yearning they will feel--forever--not knowing. That they would open their hearts-their minds and their souls to these children--not just in China.

So--I'm writing this--in hopes--some non-adoptive families--might dare to give this book a chance. Even if you don't open your home to an orphan--that your mind would be opened to the REALITY of an orphan and be a little more sensitive to an adopted children-when you meet them in your everyday life. That they might find a way to "give back" to those that are helping these children--by donating to an organization (here are a few to check out--their work is amazing--An Orphans Wish or Starfish Foster Home, Love without Boundries Foundation, or  Half The Sky Foundation) that is dedicated to helping them get the surgery they need, supporting their families so they don't need to abandon them to get their child the life-saving surgery they need. The organizations that are doing everything they can to get these children the family they need. It might seem a small donation--but it's huge in the lives of a child.

AND if you dare--follow them on facebook--their day-to-day impact plays out before you. As children are given the hope of life--some the gift of a family--all the love of someone that cares. If noting else--it's a good daily reminder--that you are blessed in so many ways--that children around the world may never know.

As we waited for our daughter's face and location to be revealed to us--I thought of her birth parents--her journey--her circumstances--but only in a way that I could understand from the comforts of America. As adoptive families--we think we know the circumstances surrounding our children's early years. We also think we will never know--and find it easier not knowing for many reasons.

BUT--the minute we met her--I couldn't shake the guilt that I was privileged to call this girl my own-love her with all my heart--all at her birth parents sacrifice. It still bothers me. And as our daughter opens up--we realize this is not something that will never be comfortable--for anyone.

This book is not for the blind adoptive parent that thinks the past should be tucked away and we should stay focused on the future. The parent(s) that believe their child doesn't remember (she/he is too young). It is for those that want the truth of the story of their child and so many orphans--not just in China. That acknowledge their deep, many times self-inflicted suffocation of that need--to remember-to know--the details of their life before they found themselves alone at such a tender age.

If nothing else--this book reminds those of us--with big wonderful western families (rich or poor)--that they have a HUGE blessing in their family. Never to be taken for granted-to be cherished-honored and respected in everyway.

Thank you Kay Bratt--not just for writing this book--but for your un-selfish service/gift to orphans in China. Your heart is special--your determination inspiring! 


Chasing China; A Daughter's Quest for Truth [Kindle Edition] 

by Kay Bratt --Only $2.99 on 

Book Overview: Mia is beautiful, talented and has the world at her fingertips. But what makes her different than the average college student who juggles a heavy workload and a rat of a boyfriend? Many years ago she was born to an unknown family in China but soon discarded to fend for herself in a busy train station.  Fate stepped in when Mia was taken to the local orphanage and adopted at the age of four by her American family. Life has been good for her, or at least as much as she has allowed it to be while pushing her deep feelings of abandonment to the back of her mind. Finally she has decided that in order to move forward, she must confront her past. Mia takes a journey to the mysterious land of her birth and embarks on a mission to find answers. As she follows the invisible red thread back through her motherland, she is enamored by the history and culture of her heritage--strengthening her resolve to get to the truth, even as Chinese officials struggle to keep it buried. With her unwavering spirit of determination, Mia battles the forces stacked against her and faces mystery, danger, a dash of romance, and finally a conclusion that will change her life.  91,000 words, 344 pages.