Bret--Bai Ling Yun
Michelle--Bai Ling Feng
Bret's story is a miracle. We didn't know it was a miracle, though, until years later after we had adopted her. Almost five years to be exact. And I believe more miracles are going to come out of it.
Yeah, I know some of you are thinking, "this lady sure claims to have a lot of miracle stories." As my niece Darby likes to say, "True!" But my miracle stories just mainly revolve around adoption. I account for it because of this Bible verse.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.James 1:27
I believe God has blessed me with these miracles because of my adoptions. That is just my take on it.
Anyway, here goes my miracle story about Bret. I report. You decide. That is a joke . . . sort of. : - )
At some point of the story, you may wonder why I'm talking so much about Arden, but Arden is one of the biggest parts of Bret's miracle story.
Sigh... where do I begin. I guess a good place to start is our adoption of Bret in 2004. I picked her out of about three pages of children. I probably had about 30 children to look at, and they were living all over China.
Bret was almost 4 y.o. when I picked her out and only 4 1/2 y.o. when we actually got her. From the day I talked Mike into adopting (no paper work whatsoever started) until the day we were in China getting here was only seven months. My fastest adoption ever! Bret had a a special need, and it was burns. I had never dealt with burns. It was a little scared, but she was so cute that I knew she was the one I wanted. As a matter of fact, when I told my sister how cute she was, my sister, without knowing which child she was, instantly pointed to her picture out of all the kids on the page. I was shocked and asked how she guessed. She said, "Because you said she was so cute."
This was the first time I had ever adopted from Bret's orphanage. The only other Chinese adoption we had done to that point was Bret's older sister, Lael. Lael was from Wuhan. Bret was in the city of Guangzhou living in the Guangzhou Social Welfare Institute (GSWI). Guangzhou is China's third largest city, and the Guangzhou orphanage usually houses around 1,000 orphans at any given time.
Fast forward to 2005 when we were back in China after we had already adopted Bret. On that trip we met Arden. I knew as soon as I met Arden that I wanted to adopt her. Arden was considered an "older" adoption, and was one of the first "older" adoptions out of China at the time. When we actually got her she was 11 y.o. Back then I was nervous about adopting an older child. I know God allowed me to meet her first just so I could "get over" my fear. I also know God has used Arden's story and several people adopted "older" children because of her.
Arden's adoption was sticky. I was looking for an older girl to adopt, but you can't just go in and pick one out. God did put her right in front of me. I had to figure out a way to actually get her though and besides that, I also had to get Mike to agree.
A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure. Proverbs 16:9
The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalms 37:23
I like to say I tricked Mike into adopting Arden. Mike likes to say... "Yeah right like I didn't know what you were up to." Still, I kind of secretly (no "kind of" about it) put Arden right smack dab in Mike's face. And after a few games of Mike playing with her (she was brought to our hotel the day after I saw her) I said to Mike, "I like her." Lael said, "I do too." Mike sighed and said, "I do too." Oh yes, I accomplished my goal!! Mike couldn't say no to this cute thing and she had a personality to boot! One year later Arden was ours!!
But I have to back up to the day we spent in the hotel when Mike first met Arden. I had met Arden the day before in the orphanage. By this time Bret was about 7 y.o. and this is where the story switches back to Bret. Again, this was 2005, and we had already adopted Lael, Bret and Bret's younger sister Lyric. We were in China on the 2005 trip to adopt our daughter Cokie. We took Lael, Bret and Lyric with us on the 2005 trip to get Cokie. One night all of us went out to dinner. We also invited the orphanage director, our guide (who translated for us) and Arden.
I was smiling the entire dinner because I thought I was getting what I wanted--which was Arden of course. Arden was still named Shan, the name given to her by GSWI. Mike and the director were more or less taking care of my kids, because I was just totally catering and involved in "Shan." As I said, we were adopting Cokie on this trip. She had been burned too--much worse than Bret, and the orphanage director was taking a lot of interest in her. I think she thought I should have been. : - ) So, while she was trying to get Cokie to eat I was just smiling at Arden, the other girl I desperately wanted! Shan spoke no English, but our guide was translating. I was explaining to Shan where we lived in the U.S. and basically wanting her to like us. The guide, who in reality was and still is a really good friend, had been our guide from way back when we adopted Bret. We had become friends since that trip and she really had, and still has, a fondness for Bret. She was overjoyed to see Bret again. GSWI had named Bret, Bai Ling Yun. The director, the guide and Shan were still calling Bret by her old name, Bai Ling Yun.
Here comes the miracle!
In the middle of our dinner the guide got quiet. Her eyes started to water and she said, "Shan says Bai Ling Feng says Bai Ling Yun is her sister."
Out of all the children in the GSWI (about 1,000) Bret's new sister to be, Arden, was best friends with Bret's birth sister, Michelle (Bai Ling Feng). Neither we or Bret had absolutely any idea Bret had any birth siblings until Arden told us that day! Michelle was the same age as Arden and they had been very close in the orphanage.
But Bai Ling Feng, now Michelle, had been adopted just a few months before. She had gone to a family in the U.S.
No one "came clean" that day, but no one denied Arden's story either. About a year later we found out positively Bai Ling Feng, Michelle, and Bai Ling Yun, Bret, are biological sisters. They also have another sister who was adopted in China. We do know where she is, but her adoptive parents are not supportive of her talking to Bret.
When Bret was abandoned she was too young to remember it. But, after finally being allowed to have contact with her older sister Michelle (years later) Bret asked Michelle about their abandonment. At first Michelle told Bret it was too painful to talk about it, but the next day she decided to tell Bret their story. Michelle can only remember her birth Father being mean to her. He called her names and told her she was trash. Finally, their birth Mother told Michelle she was going to abandoned the girls. But the Mother decided she would keep one girl, and that would be Michelle. Michelle told Bret she cried and screamed and begged her mother to let her go with her two younger sisters. Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. This little girl had just been told by her mother that her two sisters were going to be abandoned. And the little girl begged her mother to be abandoned too so she could stay with her sisters. This girl loved her sisters. The Mother decided to let Michelle have her way. She took the 3 young beautiful little sisters to what Michelle said was like a 7 Eleven store and abandoned them. Michelle told Bret that not only was she was trying to deal with the fact they were just abandoned, but she also was trying to take care of her two little sisters out on the street. (I believe Bret must have been a baby because she was the youngest) Michelle said they stayed there two days. She said she guessed someone realized no one was coming back for them and that is when the three young sisters were all taken together to GSWI.
Today Michelle is in college. Bret is in high school. Not only does Bret have a 4.0 grade average, but she is the sweetest thing ever. Honestly, people just love Bret. When Michelle told Bret their story Bret thanked Michelle for taking care of her. Michelle said to Bret, "I'm speechless."
I'm thinking no one had ever told Michelle, and she doesn't realize, what a miraculous thing she did at probably only around five years old. Talk about speechless.
Several years after Arden told us who Bret's biological sister is, I also learned more details about Bret's story. When Bret and her sisters were taken to the orphanage, GSWI gave all three girls the same birthday (not year, but day). GSWI also gave them matching names which meant rain, cloud and wind. The reason for the names was because they came to GSWI on a terribly stormy day. Also, it was very unusual for three siblings to be abandoned together so it was common knowledge the girls were sisters.
I had always wondered if Bret was burned before she was abandoned or had an accident in the orphanage. I had already heard little things from others who had been in GSWI and strongly suspected she did have an accident in GSWI, even though I was told it didn't happen there. When I first found out about the three sisters, one of the firsts things I asked was were the other two burned, and the answer was of course no. I also met a woman online who did volunteer work at the GSWI when Bret was there (the Internet is amazing!). She told me she remembered Bret laying in bed, and they didn't know if she would live or die. It turned out when Bret was practically a baby she wasn't being watched carefully by the nannies in the GSWI and she pulled something terribly hot on herself burning her face and chest. Since, we've had Bret, she has had several surgeries because of her burns.
This is amazing to me, but neither Bret or Cokie never, ever complain about the hell they went through. Of course, they don't remember their accidents, but they deal with the scars, surgeries etc... daily. They don't talk about it, and they don't complain about it. Cokie's burns don't show like Bret's, but hers are much, much worse, and she'll always have a limp and have to worry about the sores that she still has to take care of. Both Bret and Cokie are amazing girls with special, special personalities that make almost everybody they come in contact with love them. I mean if you don't like these girls, you have the problem.
One of Bret's referral pictures.
Our guide in China when we were adopting Bret. Bret came with a terribly bad cough, so we took her to the hotel's medical clinic for a treatment. Bret was scared and started to cry. So I started to cry. Our guide grabbed Bret and did it herself.
We had had Bret a couple of days here. She was a scared little girl for a long, long time.
But by this time, you can see what a cocky little thing she had become. This was taken in Nanjing where we had just gotten Cokie, right before we met Arden for the first time in Guangzhou. Cokie's burns were bad. You can see her leg is heavily wrapped. The fire had caused bones to move in her foot and she was crippled and couldn't walk.
You can see how much Bret had grown since we had adopted her. I was about to learn something that would change her life forever.
The first time Mike met Arden. Arden is being very brave here and putting on a smile, but you can tell she is really uncomfortable.
The day I took Arden to meet Mike. He took her to the game room of the White Swan hotel.
Arden's adoption day. Lael and Bret went back to China with us again.
Our guide excited to see Bret again! They've seen each other several times since we adopted Bret, and once she visited us at our home here in the U.S.
Taking the guide, and our friend, back to the hotel to do a number on her.
Michelle on the left.
Michelle in the hat.
Michelle and her family.
Mike calls Bret "Miss Guangzhou," and Bret happily embraces the title. The first time we took Bret back to China, all she could talk about was how much better Guangzhou was than all the other cities we visited.
Bret after one of her surgeries.
Bret today saying, "Take the picture so I can eat my cookie."
And Arden getting ready to say, "Why do you have to take another picture?" I stomped my feet and told her I'm writing a story, and she knows she is part of it!