"What lies behind us, and what lies before us are small matters
compared to what lies within us."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Little Girl is Growing Up

Yesterday, Isabella turned 12 years old! I can hardly believe that she has been here for five years! 

Before I show you the fabulous cake, I thought I would go back in time a little and share Isabella's story and how she came to be in our family. 

When Isabella was four year old, her parents made the very difficult decision to take her to the orphanage. They loved her very much, but they just couldn't afford to feed her. They wanted her to get an education. She has five older brothers and she was the only girl. I can't even imagine what a difficult decision it was for her parents. This picture was from when she had just come to the orphanage. Her father's name was Andre, and he named his only daughter after him, Andremene. When we had to re-adopt Isabella in the United States, she said she really wanted a new name. She said wanted to start fresh. She choose the name Isabella. 

Isabella's family, even her grandma, visited her several times while she was in the orphanage. The orphanage was not a good one. The caregivers were very harsh. Isabella remembers them whacking all the children if one child mis-behaved. There was no running water or electricity. All of the children were terrified to get out of their beds at night to go to the bathroom. The bathroom was pitch dark and there were snakes and spiders inside. Isabella didn't even know what toilet paper was when she first came to the US.

I had always felt drawn to Haiti and the people there, but my plan was to adopt a baby. Anastasia was two at the time. I heard about Isabella through a missionary group. She had been at the orphanage for a while by this time. She had seen many of her friends get a family. She felt terrible because no one had picked her yet. I always tell her that she had to wait for me to find her! At first, I only sponsored Isabella, but it soon became clear that she was meant to be our daughter.

Isabella was five when we officially submitted our paperwork to adopt her from Haiti. It took two long years before she finally came home. My heart was broken when a missionary would send me a picture and I would see another tooth had fallen out! I felt like I was missing so much. I also knew she wasn't in a good place, so I worried and worried. We were able to send her a photo album of our family, so she could be a little more prepared. 

We had Isabella escorted by the missionary because Haiti was having some riots at the time. I will never forget going to meet her at the airport. As soon as she saw me, she ran straight to me and yelled, "Mom!". I had learned some Creole, but apparently, I hadn't learned it very well, because every time I tried to speak to her in Creole, she would laugh. She learned English very quickly. 

We were at a breakfast buffet when she spoke her first sentence. She wanted to get more food, but she was concerned that I would take her other food, so she told me, "no garbage!" She ate so much at first that she would throw up. 

I'll never forget the look on her face when she saw me running water for the bathtub. She had never seen such an incredible thing! 

This is Isabella at 8 years old. 

Isabella was 7 1/2, Anastasia was 5 and little Catherine was just one. I am so blessed to have Isabella as my daughter! Someday, we plan to go back to Haiti and find her family.  

Now on to the birthday festivities! Anastasia got Isabella some beautiful jingle bell earrings.

Grandma got Isabella a fabulous, sparkly bracelet. 

She wanted to have a "sky" cake. We had a lot of fun putting on the skittles for the rainbow. 

Then we went ice skating! I brought the cake and then I saw a sign that stated "No outside food allowed!" We are such rule breakers! We did sing very, very quietly.

This was the first year that little Catherine's feet were finally big enough for her to rent skates. I wasn't quite sure how she would like ice skating. You never know what to expect with little Catherine.

I was anticipating some high drama with Catherine. I imagined having to drag her onto the ice. 

Isabella remembered how to skate from last year and did a great job! 

I shouldn't have worried about Catherine. She stepped onto the ice and took off. She didn't hold the wall or my hand. I have no idea how she knew what to do, but she was off and away. 

Anastasia had Olympic dreams. 

We all had a wonderful time! I must be getting old because I was worn out! 

Happy Birthday my sweet Isabella! 


  1. Happy birthday to Isabella. She is such a beautiful girl and I can tell she is a blessing to your family as well.

  2. I found your next daughter...

  3. Happy birthday Isabella ! Your life story inspires me ! Having gone through what you've been through and managing to be so happy and full of life is truly an inspiration to me !! Once again : HAPPY BIRTHDAY !

  4. That post gave me goosebumps.
    Happy Birthday Isabella!
    What a lovely family you have, i'm glad your mum found you!

  5. Happy Birthday Isabella!

    Since two out of my children ice skate and are thrilled about their sport, I must say going skating was a fabulous choice for a birthday activity :-) ! It seems like your girls had great fun!

  6. Happy Birthday Isabella!!! I will be in Haiti this summer and we are staying next door to an orphanage. I'm not going to be able to look at any of those kids without thinking about your sweet girl. So thankful she is in your family!

  7. Happy Happy 12th Birthday Beautiful Isabella!!! What a blessing you are to your family!! The cake IS fabulous and I love the last pic of the Super Skaters!!! Great birthday memories!!! (((BIG HUGS)))!!!

  8. Happy birthday Isabella! I'm thankful God gave you a new start and an amazing family to love you! And I love the name you chose, when I was a little girl I named my favorite doll "Isabella".

  9. I am so glad to learn Isabella's story. She is lovely and has a marvelous smile. Please tell her "Happy Birthday" for me. Are Anastasia and Little Catherine biological children, then? I started enjoying your blog shortly after Victoria and Frederika joined your family so I have missed much of your family stories.

  10. All of your girls are beautiful but now that I know Isabella's story, she is doubly so !

    Happy Birthday Isabella

  11. Happy Birthday Isabella! You picked a beautiful name! :)
    The cake looked very yummy. :) I like Ice Skating, but at my age, I am better of just watching. :) I hurt for everybody each time they fall. LOL

  12. Happy Birthday, Isabella! You are an amazing young lady!


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