Friday, January 11, 2013

Celebrating Two Years With Natalie

Two years ago today, we officially and legally adopted our daughter, half-way around the world in a foreign city.  It is amazing how our biological clocks know when a life-changing event took place even years later!  Images of our trip have been flooding my mind-foods, feelings, colors, sounds, the people.
I was sick for most of the 16 days we spent in China, and I was feeling so miserable until we got home that I swore I would never go back!  It is true what they say-as you move away from traumatic events, you can begin to let go of the bad memories and hold on to the good.  Perhaps that is why each generation can look back on their past, nostalgically, as "the best years".  It makes moving forward-easier.  I keep in touch with several other families who traveled with us and adopted their children.  Three of those families are starting the paperwork to go back to adopt again-in fact, one family is there right now.  People have asked over the last two years if I would adopt again, and I said no, one child is enough.  But if I was younger and had another $30,000-I would!  (Although I cannot speak for my dear husband, however.) 

There are moments-very fleeting moments-where I wonder if we did the right thing for Natalie.  Should we have taken her away from her native country?  We gave her a family and love and-we hope-opportunities she would not have gotten in China. We had expected to save her life, but she had the first heart surgery in China.  Would she have gotten the second one or would she have died at a young age? She's a fighter, but how long would her heart have held out?  But, we also brought her to a place where no one else looks like her.  We took her away from a country which is booming, growing and changing, to one which is in economic crisis and stagnate.  Someday, would her chinese parents try to find her-only to discover she was gone?  And then, the worst feeling of all, would she have been safer in China?  (I don't think China has mass shootings in elementary schools!)  As a nation we have paid and continue to pay a terrible price for our freedoms-but it is those very freedoms that make our Nation so desirable among other nations.  The one thing I discovered about the Chinese people-they are a complex people.  They love their country-but they secretly want to be just like America. They are fascinated with us! (Whenever Brad and I got into the car, our chinese guide would put on American music from the 70's and 80's and sing along-Barry Manilow and Richard Marx, for example.  Brad and I would secretly look at each other, smile and snicker-music we hadn't heard since high school!)

While we were in China, Brad and I were terribly self conscious!  It's very disconcerting to visit another country where everyone is of the same race, except for yourself.  We take our country and it's diverse peoples for granted!  We are so use to seeing all different races, nationalities, and ethnic groups on a daily basis-where we work, go to church, in our neighborhood, and on TV.  We were so uncomfortable in China-standing out everywhere we went.  But, looking back on our time there-(our guides wouldn't let us stay hidden in our hotels; they constantly had things for us to do and places to see)-I see now that the people were not only fascinated with us, but very pleasant  and kind.  I wish I could have spoken the language- we could have had many, many interesting conversations.  Infact, I was beginning to feel comfortable in Nanjing by the end of our week stay, and I look forward to returning, someday. 

We had to promise the Chinese Government that we would teach our daughter about her chinese heritage.  During our first year and a half home our priority was to limit stimulation and to bond with and help her to learn the English language.  Natalie was 22 months old, but in terms of her physical, social, emotional, psycological growth, and language  she was really only 12 month old.  In 2 years her growth has been astronomical!  She has developed her own unique personality and spirit.  She has become my inspiration!  She has taught me to make boundaries and stand up for myself and my family.  She has shown me how to have compassion and understanding for others.  And she has given me strength and grace to accept the things I cannot change and the hope and faith to believe that God is in control and works everything for my good as He sees it, not as I see it or want it to be.  Natalie brings out the best in me!  One morning shortly before Christmas Natalie said to me, "Mama I belong here.  You will be my Mama forever and Dada will be my Dada forever."  And just as Jesus' mother Mary, I will treasure all these things and ponder them in my heart always.

I don't know what the future holds.  I don't know if Natalie will want to know anything about her heritage.  I don't know if she will be angry at us for taking her away from China.  I don't want her to be "grateful" to us for "saving" her life, because only God can do that.  But I do hope she will always know deep in her heart and soul that we love her for who she is and who she will become-thru all the good and the bad, the sad and happy.  She is loved by us UNCONDITIONALLY.  She was given to us by God and is a blessing to us each and every day!  I will keep my promise to China-I am searching for and reading anything and everything I can on China and it's people.  I will make sure she knows her heritage and it's traditions, and I will support her in any way I can if she decides to return home one day.  She is both American and Chinese!We love you Natalie-please never doubt that!!!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Blessed Beyond Measure

Natalie's preschool is 25 minutes away from home.  Because she only attends for 3 hours, instead of using up the gas and putting so many miles on our car, I simply stay at the school.  When the weather was nice, I brought my road bike and rode for an hour or so.  The closest grocery store is 10 minutes away, so I sometimes do my shopping while she is at school.  Now that the weather is cold and windy (and rather wet), I have been staying at the school and reading or using the time to update her blog and work on her photo albums.  I don't often get to see her, but today she walked past me with her classmates and when she saw me she got the biggest smile on her little face and she waved to me.  That one little moment made my day-my heart leaped with so much joy.

 I loved Natalie long before we knew her-long before she was ever born.  God grafted her into my heart.  He told me everything about her-she is everything I had always dreamed.  Isn't it amazing?  I loved her so much that there were times I cried over the child that was only a dream in my heart and mind.  I loved her so much that I ached for her and longed for her.  I had become so despondent when I reached 35 years of age and we were no closer to starting the adoption, (and every year after that was even harder).  But, praise God, I had two beautiful christian friends in my life, my sister-in-law and best friend Caroline and my cousin Beth who both understood my dream and knew that everything was in God's timing.  When those moments of fear, despair and hopelessness would hit me, and I wondered whether or not I would ever adopt, they heard me, they helped me through my tears and reminded me that this IS my path, the dream was real and the adoption would happen in God's timing-not mine!  My little girl had not been born yet.   I think the hardest part of being a christian is to trust that God knows you and His plan, in His timing, is the only way to live.  He gives us free will to choose, but it is our responsibilty to pray and talk with Him in every decision we make throughout our lives.  We must trust and hope in Him.  This is the most important thing I can pass onto my child, and I hope this blog and my personal diaries will convey this to her one day.  That's not to say that my faith doesn't waver.  That doesn't mean I don't question every decision I make-even in the back of my mind, there have been times, in which I question the existence of God.  My faith has gone thru many crisis over the years and I know there will be more.  But at each moment of crisis and despair I have always cried out to Him for help and direction.  There were times he answered me immediately and there have been times it has taken months and years for an answer.  But He DOES answer.  Natalie is proof of that hope and trust in God.  My wonderful loving marriage is proof of that hope and trust in God. 

That one little moment-that one little smile from Natalie- I will hold in my heart forever.  I never knew I could have so much love for my husband and my child.  I love being with them both.  I physically miss them when they are not with me.  What did I do to deserve such blessings?  Nothing.  Only by God's grace have I been blessed and loved.  That is adoption!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why this Blog?

Some people wonder why I keep a  blog.  I wondered the same thing the first time the idea was presented to me.  This blog can be very personal, even offend some people who may read it.  But there are three very important reasons.  First and foremost this blog is for Natalie-a chronicle of Natalie's life from the moment we "chose" her to be our daughter-from that moment we made the conscience decision to change her life forever.  Second, it is another way for me to express my feelings about being Natalie's mama-another source outside my personal diary.  And lastly, I keep access to this blog open for people to read, because, like me, there are many adoptive parents out there who need to know they are not alone in their struggles to raise an internationally institutionalized special needs child.  I am constantly looking for that support and reassurance from other parents because only they can understand what it is like to parent such a beloved child.  My prayer for everyone who reads this blog and others like it, is that they may be blessed with an open mind to the special circumstances which are involved in parenting an adopted child who has PTSS and become more supportive of the orphans and widows of this world.

*"Institutionalized children have a 'stressed-shaped' brain.  Therefore they lack behavioral and emotional control.  A child's response to stress is to 'rev up' or 'shut down'.  (This can happen many times a day, and very abruptly.)  Such jerky behaviors, with little or no modulation from one emotion to another and abrupt transitions, are a result of an 'on and off' method of controlling energy.  Without the ability for self-control (self-regulation) it makes it difficult for a child to connect with others, focus attention and learn new things.  This ability to self-regulate takes place between infant and parent, but many internationally adopted children do not get this kind of interaction."  Natalie was blessed (we can only assume) to have this learning experience for the first six months of her life, which is why there are times her behavior is "normal", and she can self-regulate her emotions and behaviors.  Unfortunately, she lost that ability for 1 1/2 years before coming to us, and in its place, she developed survival skills.  Therefore she does not always know how to use her self-control and as a result needs extra attention, understanding and patience to help her to learn and activate these skills. 

The mind-set of most people is: as long as you just love the child and treat her like any normal kid, then she will be just fine.  But these children are far from normal.  And should not be treated in the same manor.  For the first year or more of their lives they did not have the love, attention, safety, predictability, and most importantly the bonding/attachment to one/two parents.  It has only been in the last 20 years that studies have proven just how important this is to the emotional stability and health of a child.  For the first year we had Natalie I heard over and over again from family members, friends and complete strangers, 'oh she's a normal 2 year old' and 'oh that's just the terrible two's'.  I had moments of distraught loneliness.  My husband couldn't understand or help because Natalie rejected him completely and he had his own psychological  emotions to deal with.  What saved me was learning to trust in my judgement as Natalie's parent.  I knew her anger and her shut-downs were similar to the terrible two's (and now the three's).  But they went much further!  And because Natalie latched on to me-I learned how to respond to her inappropriately intense emotions and her intense lack of them., and she only trusts me to help calm her down.  There were and still are days in which I feel like I am on a roller coaster ride-on the verge of screaming or getting sick.  She expresses emotions in excess of what we believe is called for at the time (what might be considered normal) - explosive outbursts to minor things such as not getting her way, Brad arriving home from work, a casual remark, an innocent look or touch.

There are some adoption books that I rely heavily on for support and training.  I read them before Natalie's adoption and I re-read them all the time.  I refer to them throughout the years.  They have become a great comfort to me.  There is one paragragh I have read, re-read and now have posted in my bedroom to read everyday.  For any adoptive parent it is important to hear:

**"Most of us were not taught about our post-institutional child's deep need for control, or clingy, anxious attachment, or what to do about lingering orphanage behaviors.  Parenting a new child with adoption issues can be exhausting, overwhelming, and bewildering.  It is extremely depressing to feel like you are a failure at parenthood, but you are not.  You may simply be working off the parenting role model you were raised with-it doesn't work with our post-institutionalized kids."

So the next time that well-meaning person decides to give you unsolicited advice about your child, keep in mind, they don't understand, they really don't want to understand, (so save your breath), smile, but do what you know is best for your child.  And I hope that our experiences with our precious beloved Natalie can help another parent and/or adoptee.

 *  quoted from 'Adoption Parenting edited by Jean MacLeod & Sheena Macrae
** quoted from 'Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child' by Patty Cogen

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Mama, I love you, I won't leave you"

Natalie has been home with us for 1 1/2 years-the same amount of time she spent in the orphanage.  She now has as many memories of her new life as her old.  She has made unprecedented progress in such a short time.  Often, older children coming out of orphanages are behind developmentally for years.  Natalie is now at least in the 50th percentile or higher, physically and intellectually, and we have seen great strides in her emotional development.  She is truly an amazing individual.  In only 5 months she went from putting three words together, most times unrecognizable, to speaking in complete understandable sentences-in English (her second language).  She has definitively developed her own personality.  She is sensitive and intuitive: one morning last week I was not feeling well.  I was sitting there on the edge of the bed and she crawled in the bed, came up behind me, put her arms around me, and said "Don't worry Mama, I take care of you" and gave me a big hug.  She is persistent and determined:  we were at the park, and there were lots of other children there that day.  Natalie wanted to play on an apparatus that was occupied by two boys, about ages 4 and 6.  When she tried to join them they would yell, "get off" and throw mean looks her direction.  She would proceed to get off, analyze the situation, and get right back on.  At one point the older boy pushed her away, in hopes that she would get his point.  She came right back.  The grandfather of the boys warned me to keep an eye on the older one because he could be a little rough.  I looked at Natalie and responded, "I think my daughter can hold her own."  It wasn't long before the three of them (the boys and Natalie) were playing together and having great fun.  (She seems to be "gravitating" towards boys-older boys-oh my, look out!)  She is observant and cautiously curious.  And she can be serious and silly.  She's just BEAUTIFUL! 

One of the very thoughtful gifts I received at the "toddler shower" (last year-after arriving home from China) was a picture frame with "Gotcha Day" and the date inscribed on it.  For Brad and I that day was both an anxious, exhilarating, happy, and heart breaking day.  But for Natalie it was sad, confusing and terrifying.  Not one picture from that day shows a "happily ever after" family.   For months the frame remained empty-void of a picture.  Then a good friend told me that she had a framed picture of their adopted daughter from her Gotcha Day and every time she looks at it, it is a reminder of the trauma her daughter endured.  So I put Natalie's sad picture in that frame.  The other day Natalie came into our room.  She said, "I want to show you something Mama."  I asked her what it was.  She immediately walked over to that picture, picked it up and said, "this is me.  I was very sad, I did not know my Mama and my Dada."  She is very perceptive.  The past couple weeks she has become very interested in "her" story and "her" pictures, and can recite her adoption story as only a three year old can. 

Last year she was desperately attached to me-out of fear of being abandoned yet again- but she feared intimacy, physically and emotionally rejecting the love we showered upon her.  She treated me like a "caretaker" and Brad like a monster to be feared.  In the orphanage, she learned that the only way to get attention was to smile and put on a show for others.  In public, everyone thought she was cute, adorable and 'oh so normal'.  But, at home, she literally pushed us away, just to see if we would really love her and not leave her- with sleepless nights from night terrors, nightmares and regressive emotions.  Each time I became discouraged, I looked at that "Gotcha Day" photo as my reminder to remain patient and understanding of the trauma she has endured.  Today she is an overly energetic preschooler who loves hugs and kisses (and to be tickled) from Mama and Dada.  She lives for our undivided attention, and doesn't cling to me out of fear, so much anymore.  Everynight she says "I love you, I'm not going to leave you."

After a year of quiet and limited stimulation, Brad and I have been having great fun watching Natalie experience new things, like Hershey Park.

Now that she understands the language, she loved Easter, and we got her first Easter basket! (Can you tell she loves the Pooh characters?)

She is no longer afraid of water.  She got into the creek and pool for the first time this year, and we are having a hard time keeping her out of water-she has to play in the kitchen sink when I wash dishes, she stomps in puddles and loves being sprayed with the hose.  We are headed to the beach in a couple of weeks, and now that she is no longer afraid of sand, we are looking forward to watching her play in God's giant sand box!

Now my silly girl is ready for preschool this September.  She loves to play with other children.  Each new child she meets instantly become her "new best friends".  (Oh my, the innocence of children-why does it become so complicated as we get older?)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mama, can we go to cabin house now?

We went to the mountains last weekend-well, as Natalie likes to call it, the 'cabin house'.  Brad and I have taken over responsibility for the family cabin, which is located in State College.  We have had Natalie there 6 times, and she LOVES IT!  I think we were both surprised by how quickly she took to staying there, but I now know she loves having Mama and especially Dada ALL TO HERSELF!  For months, Natalie hasn't wanted much to do with Brad, so it was so nice to see her following him everywhere, sitting on his lap, letting him read books, and spontaneously giving hugs and kisses.

We went mainly to cut wood to replace what we burnt over the winter and to catch up on some much needed sleep.  Poor Natalie, although she has been having less nightmares, she had both nightmares and night terrors while we were there.  Her bad dreams now seem to be coming soon after she goes to sleep-which for me is much better.  Many times I am not in bed or asleep yet when she wakes, and after I get her back to sleep she has been sleeping thru the remainder of the night, which has been a great help for me-no more interrupted sleeps-it's a good thing I am already a night owl!

Someone recently said to me (about Natalie's nightmares) that "bad things happen to everyone, you just have to learn to deal with it."  The comment caught me a little off guard---so I simply stopped talking about Natalie.  She was not wrong in what she said-yes, life can be difficult and as human beings we DO learn to adapt-even babies.  But,  how many of us were abandoned by our mom and dad at 6 months (old enough to carry those memories) many of us were born with a life threatening illness AND had open heart surgery less than a year after our many of us were, again, abandoned by the people we were beginning to trust during that surgery/ many of us lived in an institution where we were left alone in our bed more often than we had human touch and warmth...and THEN how many of us were abandoned, yet again, and left in the arms of complete strangers who didn't even speak the same language-forced onto an airplane only to be taken to a place which was like NONE other we had ever many of us have nightmares and night terror nearly every night?  YES, as human beings we have the amazing ability to reason and think thru our circumstances and choose to adapt...WHEN WE ARE ADULTS!  But Natalie, and most of the abandoned children in China did NOT choose their circumstances...were unable to understand, reason and, in most cases, to survive.  How many children are alive, but their spirit is dead?  Because THAT is what dies when we do not have the nurture, love, and trust of those responsible for our care during the first 2 years of life!  In many ways Natalie was blessed to have been with people who loved her for the first 6 months of her existence in this world.  And I believe that she WAS loved and cherished, because she has a beautiful, caring spirit.  I CHOOSE TO BELIEVE that her biological parents loved her, wanted her, and still mourn her.  I know that my daughter will be a strong, sensitive, and loving person with a happy and healthy spirit.  BUT, THAT TRAUMA will also define who she is and will become, and it is my job as a parent to continuously help her thru those moments of anguish, despair, anger and confusion (and nightmares).  I WILL NOT brush her feelings aside and just assume she will learn how to deal with them.  It is our job to do whatever we can to help her.  “The way we understand both our present and our future depends on what we have lived through.” (from Xinran's book)

 I want to believe  the comment that was made to me was because that person was uncomfortable discussing the facts of Natalie's situation...that she was uncomfortable with anything outside of her beautiful and protected life.  I certainly don't want to stress anyone more than they already are-because every one's lives are stressful enough but I also believe that you truly cannot understand anyone elses circumstances until you have walked in their shoes.  I also do not believe that we should turn a blind eye or stick our head in the mud to others plights.  As a society we are much too selfish and self-centered, and it is much easier to ignore than to be educated.  If anyone is interested, there are three books which are accurate accounts of the life of orphans in China and the stories of the mothers who give up their flesh and blood.  Here are the titles:
1. " A Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother; Stories of Love and Loss"  by Xinran
2. "Silent Tears; A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage"  by Kay Bratt
3. "Chasing China; A Daughter's Quest for Truth"  by Kay Bratt
I hope everyone considers reading them, especially if you are having a hard time understanding WHY anyone would go around the world to adopt a child of different culture and race.  (And believe me when I say there are MANY, MANY people who do not understand-Brad and I see it in their faces and attitude everywhere we go.) If anyone wonders why just look at this before and after picture:

First time Natalie met us-January 10, 2011

Home 1 year 2 months-March 24, 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Perfect Day

Getting to sleep in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Snuggling in bed with Natalie, having breakfast together as a family.

Listening to Dada and Natalie laugh and play together the rest of the morning-such games as "horsey", hide and seek, and chase.

Going to Susquehanna State Park and watching Natalie run around, hang over the railing watching the amazing and powerful Susquehanna River flow, seeing the satisfied accomplishment on her face as she climbs the bars on the jungle gym and walks UP the sliding board without any help (well, she did have to tell us to "Let go of butt!").

Spending the remainder of the day and sharing dinner with Grandma and Grandpa or Nana and Yaya and seeing just how much Natalie loves them.

Finally, helping Natalie get ready for bedtime, being in awe in her dexterity to screw the cap of the toothpaste on and off with such ease, reading her books, and the privilege to rock her to sleep.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


About a month ago Natalie announced that she wanted to play "hide-no-peek", and ran off to the kitchen and hid under the table.  We have no idea where she learned the game "hide-and-seek", but it's a favorite of hers to play, now.   This is how things have been for the past couple months-SUDDEN.  After we arrived home from our vacation in late October, I contacted the Lancaster County Early Intervention.  We felt Natalie's language was progressing too slowly.  She could identify objects with one word, but still was not putting two words together.  She tested at having at least a 25% delay in expressive language.  In all other areas, she was well within the average range for her age group.  Although we knew the language delay had to do with English being a second language for her, we had been told that it was a wise move to have speech therapy now so that she was not delayed after beginning school.  So, we set up therapy sessions, bi-weekly, starting in december.  But, by the time her first session came around, she was starting to put not only 2 words, but 3 words together, such as "Mama read book".   And by the beginning of January she was speaking in complete short sentences, using pronouns, verbs and adjectives.  On January 6th, Natalie had her evaluation with the IU 13, since she turns 3 in March the early intervention team wanted to get things in line for her easy transition out of their program and into the next step.  Well, she no longer qualifies for therapy.  They tested her thru the 3 1/2 year old test and stopped, even though they could have gone further.  They discovered that she uses the back of her throat when speaking, and I discovered that she tries to speak thru clenched teeth instead of opening her mouth to pronounce her words.  We assume that is Mandarin.  Other than that she tested average or above average in her abilities.  They noted she can "multitask" which most 3 year olds cannot do.  In other words, she was able to answer their test questions at the same time she was playing with a particular toy.  They were very impressed with the fact that she was able to understand everything that was asked of her and that she followed directions, precisely. They were so impressed with how advanced she was especially since she has only been with us for 1 year, that they want us to bring her back to be tested before she goes to kindergarten, just to see how advanced she will be at that time.  The following week was her scheduled speech therapy session and her tharapist "graduated" her out of the program after only 4 sessions. How amazing!

Natalie is also beginning to understand "feelings" and how to express them correctly.  For example, the other day she was watching "Snoopy's Reunion" and the little girl who had chosen Snoopy as a puppy was crying because she had to take him back to the farm (because they were not allowed to have animals in the apartment building), and when I looked over at Natalie, she was crying too-this was not the first time she saw the movie.  Last evening I got very upset with her because she was being mean to "Dada".  This morning at breakfast she asked if "Mama upset?"  But with this new ability to express feelings comes alot of "trauma baggage" from her life.

Natalie is having so many different emotions that come unexpectedly and in such extremes.  The past two months have been roller coaster rides of fear, frustration and despair.  We spent the first couple of weeks dealing with her anger.  It had been gradually appearing on a daily basis, and culminated on what would have been the week we arrived home in the States-one year ago (January 22).  We understood the trauma induced anger-we took her away from everything she knew and people she was beginning to care for and trust.  We turned her world upside down in every way, shape, and form possible! And completely against her will!  For nearly 3 years she has had NO control over any aspect of her life, and just at a time when toddlers are beginning to understand independence and taking contol-we took all that away from her.  She has been living this past year on FEAR-fear she will again be abandoned, a fear of trust and love.   I could deal with and completely understand the anger.  But Brad has been having the worst time of it.  She even hit him one evening-just out of the blue.  And more often than not she yells at him to "go away". (All the while treating other men in her life, kindly.)  And she has gone back to her reactive coping behaviors, such as banging her head at night and other sleep issues, as well.

Even though I understood, I was getting frustrated, so I contacted the therapist whom had put us on a waiting list 7 months ago for attachment/bonding issues.  Thank goodness we received answered prayer.  I started therapy 4 weeks ago.  Anyway, Natalie's anger has begun to dissipate and I was hopeful we were past this, but we just entered into another phase.

One Monday night Natalie woke from a nightmare.  This one was particularly bad.  She was crying and screaming.  I immediately got up and as I was headed out of my room she yelled "mama".  It was the first time she has ever called for me in the night!  It was one of the events I have waited for all year.  And although my heart skipped a beat when I heard her call for me, I was so afraid for her.  When I arrived in her room, she was standing on the bed crying with her arms out stretched for me.  I was able to calm her and get her back to sleep within a half an hour.  The next morning she woke quite cheerful.  That evening she and Brad were playing as they always do.  We were all laughing and having fun.  When suddenly she stopped playing, came over to me, crawled onto my lap, looked me in the eyes, gave me a kiss and said "goodbye Mama."  She left my lap, walked away from both of us, laid down on the floor, rolled up into a ball and started crying.  We were so taken off guard, we weren't sure what to do.  So I picked her up, put her on my lap and asked why she was crying.  She kissed me again, said "goodbye Mama", and again curled up into a ball and continued crying.  This time I picked her up and told her that Mama and Dada are not going anywhere-we are not saying goodbye and she was not saying goodbye.  She just cried harder and kept saying goodbye Mama.  Then it clicked: once she stopped crying so hard, I asked her, "Natalie, did your China Mama and Baba say goodbye to you?" She looked at me and said "Yes".  I then asked, "were your China Mama and Baba sad?"  She said "Yes", and started weeping.  I then asked, "Natalie were you sad?"  And with that question, she shut down!  Suddenly she put her smile on and wanted to play.  However, getting her to sleep that night was another story.

In between the anger, this latest insight into her past and the emotions from her emerging memories, she has severe meltdowns and nothing we do or say helps-which some days takes me to the brink of despair.  No child should have to go thru the trauma Natalie has lived thru.  There are days that I just stop in my tracks and watch her and I am so thoroughly amazed at this miracle in our life!  We have been so miraculously blessed to have been given such a bright, beautiful, and sensitive child.  I am even more amazed at the plan God had for my life and how it was executed to perfection.  But I will never understand  what I did to deserve such blessings! Brad and Natalie are my life!