Adoption has a special place in my heart.

Mostly because of this sweet face.

This is my niece Mia Kate.

She is funny and sweet and giggly and fierce and radiant and has more joy in her little finger than most people have in their entire self.  She makes me princess crowns and composes poems and sings songs she writes herself and twirls whenever possible and dances at the football games and cheers along with her cousin.  She stands up.  She is counted.  She makes herself heard.

She is everything I ever want to be in this life.

And when she looks at me my heart melts.

I can’t imagine life without her.


And this?

This is her story.

A story that started long ago on this blog.

A story that started with a pallet wood letter.

Here’s the original pallet wood letter.

The one that started it all.

You can read about it on this post from September 3, 2013.

My brother and his sweet wife had been talking about adopting for years.  I won’t tell you that part of the story.  That part?  It’s theirs to tell.  You can read his entire story on his blog here.  They longed to adopt.  Their hearts were willing.  They knew it was what they were supposed to do, but there were so many challenges along the journey.  If you or someone you love has ever gone through the adoption process before, you know how long and frustrating and expensive it is.

Like expensive with extra expensive on top.

My brother is a minister.  Paying for an adoption on a minster’s salary is like trying to climb Mount Everest in ballet flats.

Almost impossible.

And that’s when we came up with the idea of selling the letters.

These letters.

My brother was experimenting with simple projects with pallet wood.  He had made a few letters and I saw one and had to have it.  Why not sell them, I told him?  Why not put them on the blog and tell all of you about it and see if any of you loved a pallet wood letter as much as I did?

He told me he’d try it and made me a W.

On that long ago day in September, I put the letter on the blog.

I told all of you that he was selling letters for his adoption journey and asked if anyone wanted to buy one.

And you showed up.

Dozens and dozens and dozens of you showed up.  You told friends and those friends told their friends and the letters flew off the shelf.  Dozens of orders turned into hundreds and then hundreds turned into 1000.

And those 1000 letters?

They brought this sweet girl home.

But there’s one more chapter.

That’s not exactly the entire tale.

There’s a postscript to the story.

One that makes my heart skip a beat and my soul smile and my eyes well up with tears.

You see, when my father passed away several years ago, he left his sander to my brother.

This sander.

This sander that my brother used to finish every single one of those 1000 letters.  When he made a letter, he’d attach the pallet wood to plywood and cut out the letter shape and finish the edges with smaller pieces of pallet wood and then?  He’d sand the edges of the letter smooth using this sander.

The week before the trip to China to bring Mia Kate home, he was working on one final order.  There was one last set of letters to complete before they left.  He made the each of the letters.  He sanded them smooth.  And when he finished?  The sander suddenly stopped working.

It had done its job.

It had finished the final letter.

It was as if my father was telling my brother that his work was done.  I know how proud my father was of him.  I know he celebrated my brother’s talents and his perseverance and his heart for his family.

He believed in him.

And he had stood by my brother’s side through the entire letter-making journey.

But now?

The work was finished.

The sander’s job was done.

It’s been almost three years since this sweet girl became a part of our family.

She has forever changed our lives.

With her heart.

With her strength.

With her optimism.

But most of all…

…with her smile.

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  1. Image for Andrea Meeks Andrea Meeks

    I left my small little world and was enveloped in yours as I read this - it was truly like a breath of fresh air! Such a heartwarming and uplifting and inspiring story. Thank you for blessing me today!

  2. Image for Uta Z Uta Z

    This story brought tears to my eyes! God is so amazing and shows up literally when we most need Him. Thanks for sharing. Mia Kate is so cute!! (I know his work is done with the letters, but maybe he can open the shop again??? I'd love to get my hands on one of those!!!)

  3. Image for Carrie Carrie

    Children bring joy to so many lives. What a beautiful smile that sweet girl has....and how lucky you all are that God graced her to your family! Peace and Blessings!

  4. Image for Nancy Nancy

    I “met” you not long ago through this blogging world and feel like another angel has joined the circle that surrounds my life. I smile each time your blog arrives and head into it knowing a true blessing (and a bit of laughter) is coming. Today - a more serious thank you. I, too, am adopted. In my case it is from birth. I have chosen to not seek out birth parents as I believe they gave me the greatest gift they could in providing me the wonderful parents I have and love. Oh that the world could be such that thousands more could have such love bestowed upon them. Please keep sharing photos and stories of this precious little girl. Her smile alone is a gift to the world.

  5. Image for Barbara Moore Barbara Moore

    Two things just happened. I fell even more in love with my wooden M. And I'm in for the read of my life. First post: today we begin. Thank you, dear friend.

  6. Image for Melanie Melanie

    Just. Simply. WOW. Incredible, beautiful story of family and love and God's provision! My husband and I have been talking for some time about starting a foundation to fund adoptions. We have many friends who have adopted, and simply knowing how different these children's lives would be without the great families they have been adopted into, has tugged at our heartstrings to start this foundation. It is an extremely expensive endeavor and we feel that there are wonderful families who would adopt, but don't have the financial means to do so. Thank you for sharing this and inspiring us to do what God has placed on our hearts to do!

  7. Image for Joy Joy

    Happy Friday!!! My husband and I recently became licensed foster parents in Florida with the intention to eventually adopt. There are SO MANY children in our area alone that need forever families! We have our first long-term placement, a sweet, loving little 2-year-old girl. We hope to be able to adopt her within the next year. We are trusting in God's timing but I would adopt her today if I could!!

  8. Image for Linda Linda

    We also have two of these delightful gifts of daughters. They are in their freshman and shophomore years in college. And they still can make my heart sing!! Thank you for sharing this part of their story.

  9. Image for Kathleen of woodstock, ga Kathleen of woodstock, ga

    oh my word... Karianne...Many years ago I ordered from your brother several Letters for my family an husbands secretary at church...I was so moved by this I prayed for that baby and their trip over to get her...Thank u for sharing...Hallelujah When I got my order your sister in law put a personal note in my order...So Precious....thanks for sharing

  10. Image for Ann Ann

    LOVE this post!!!!! My friend is in process of adopting from China, and it has been a long, arduous haul--not for the faint of heart! Your family's story (including your brother's blog in honor of your dad) is precious, and the story about the pallet wood letters is amazing and a blessing! Your niece's joy, energy, and spirit shine through the photos! God is so good!!!!! Thank you for sharing!

  11. Image for Ann Ann

    P.S. The photo of your "W" against the rustic background is GORGEOUS, and the way you styled it just beautiful!!! I love your design style!

  12. Image for beverlee lyons beverlee lyons

    Well, you made me cry first thing this morning. Your family, all of you, are just as special as you could possibly be, and it is an honor to have you share the special things about them. Thank you for my tears today.

  13. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    My eyes welled with tears and goosebumps ran down my arms when I read about the sander quitting. It's a beautiful story and a beautiful little girl. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Image for Debbie Debbie

    I love this post! Such a beautiful story. We have many adopted children in our family and this truly struck home. What joy they have each added to our lives!

  15. Image for Cheryl Cheryl

    Karianne, Thank you for sharing the story of your niece and your brother. What an inspiring story. I had to read his words on his blog too. Family is everything and you are all very blessed! Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect on all that God has given us. Enjoy this season with all of your family. I'm so happy you are now living close to them and are blessed to spend time with them much more often.

  16. Image for Mary H Mary H

    Just watched the video on your brother's blog... tears welled up in my eyes watching her leave her caregivers.... but what an understanding sister in law you have, and what joy and uninhibited love your niece and nephews showed their new sister (like only children can! ) and likewise she to them.

  17. Image for Terri Terri

    How amazing ... What a Blessed and wonderful "Real Life" story...... I had seen the letters .. but never really knew the story behind them .... thank you so much for sharing "The Rest of The Story"......

  18. Image for Teresa Gonzales Teresa Gonzales

    She is adorable!!!!!!!!!!! Remember the letter's and purpose. Thanks for letting us know about the result! She is amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What is even more amazing is that the sander lasted that long!!!!!!!!!

  19. Image for Shirley Shirley

    I remember your brother posting about bringing seeet Mia home. I sat & cried then but I’m so happy to see how big she has grown & the joy she brings.

  20. Image for Kkatzcradul Kkatzcradul

    I loved this post. What happened is extraordinary, but not mystical or supernatural Your brother and sister-in-law had a tremendous, beautiful desire to grow their family and bless the life of a child. Your brother is creative and skilled. You provided motivation. Fortunately, your father left behind a useful tool that could be used in the effort. You enlisted your caring subscribers who jumped on board. Every step of the way it was humans, real-life people who made this happen. Human hands solve human problems!

  21. Image for CathyAnn CathyAnn

    That is one story with a 'happily ever after' ending!!! with divine help from the Afterlife. Karianne, you are a mesmerizing author. Thanks for openly sharing the wonder of life, yours.

  22. Image for Glo. Glo.

    I remember when they brought her home. I kept checking his blog to updates, but he had taken a break from posting. I hope they will allow you to share Mia's sweet face with us again. p.s. You're a good sister.

  23. Image for nita nita

    I didn't know the story since I only found your blog this year but the story of the sander and the wooden letters made chills. God is so faithful in ALL things. I have a precious granddaughter adopted from Russia at 9 months and it took until she was 17 months to get her home. They were able to adopt her just before Russia closed the adoption agencies for the US. She's 8 now and just a joy to our family. Looks so much like my daughter in law people think she's biological. Yes, God is good all the time.

  24. Image for Jolyn Jolyn

    I saw that 1st picture... what a DOLL!! Then... "She stands up. She is counted. She makes herself heard."... you sucked me right in (you, go, girl!!) Then... "The sander suddenly stopped working. It had done its job." I'm telling you, the tears started rolling down my cheeks. I'll give it a minute before I leave my office so I don't scare the girls. NO, everything is FINE! REALLY!! We truly have so much to give thanks for, today and always. Happy Thanksgiving!

  25. Image for janet janet

    What a heartwarming story! As a parent of a beautiful daughter that we adopted from China 19 years ago, it brings me great joy to hear that your brother and sister-in-law grew their family with a beautiful daughter from China. I believe we are blessed with the children we are meant to have by whatever means possible. Blessings to you and your family!

  26. Image for Dana Dana

    Your niece is beautiful! What a wonderful story! We adopted a beautiful two year old from Russia 21 years ago. She is a wonderful young woman who just left the nest in September to start a new chapter in her life. She has brought such joy to all of us, I don't know what our lives would have been like without her! She is cherished, just as your niece is! Everyday is Thanksgiving when you open your heart to a child that needs a home.

  27. Image for Dianne Miley Dianne Miley

    Karianne, this is the very coolest story ever! And yes, a good friend of mine adopted an sweet little boy from South Korea. He's the adorable-est! And I will share with my friends this resource for funding. How awesome! Thank you! :)

  28. Image for Heather Eledge Heather Eledge

    I love this story! I am the mother to five adopted children. There is no greater joy! There is no bigger blessing!

  29. Image for Kaye Kaye

    This story so touched my heart. Thirty-four years ago my husband and I welcomed our little angel into our family. She traveled all the way from South Korea at 5 months of age along with five other little babies. We had around forty of our friends and family .with us at the airport to welcome her. She has brought such joy to our entire family and we could not imagine our lives without her. Your brother and his wife have a wonderful life ahead of them with such a beautiful little girl.

  30. Image for Pat VonSick Pat VonSick

    So beautiful. Yes, the Lord along with your Dad stopped that sander. It was finished. A beautiful testament to faith. A beautiful little girl to celebrate. Thank you for telling us new to your blog. It’s a cold chill moment & so wonderful.

  31. Image for Camilla Camilla

    The little darling is all that and more. You forgot to mention that she can fly! Oh well at least you showed a photo of it.

  32. Image for Colleen@lilacdrivedesigns Colleen@lilacdrivedesigns

    So sweet, thanks for sharing this story, I had no idea. Your father was watching over that journey, 100%.

  33. Image for Tammy Tammy

    I can barely even see the screen as I type this through tears. Tears of joy and hope. And love. Such a sweet perspective. And a treasure to read. ❤️

  34. Image for Jeannie Jeannie

    What a sweet & touching & tearful story. I sure would like two of his letters: M & K. So if he decides to start again.... Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family.

  35. Image for Jeanne Ann Jeanne Ann

    Karianne, I am so grateful I found your blog several years ago, your family stories are heartfelt and so inspiring. As we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas I know you will continue to share your life journey with all of us. Your an angel!

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