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