Author Archive

Update from Kay Bratt

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life

It’s been several years since I returned to the states from China. While I’d like to say that I am doing fine and am where I want to be, that would be dishonest. Sort of. I am doing fine, but I hope to take another journey to live overseas one day, perhaps once we get our youngest out of college and off on her own. Despite living in two states and a few homes since our return, I still do not feel like I’ve found home. I’m not sure where God will take me one day, but I am sure I’m not there yet.

Some questions I’ve been asked:

Do you still see the kids from China?

I do not see any of the children, though I did go back to China in 2010 to find where Xiao Gou had been transferred. She’d been lost in the system and I could not rest until I finished what I had promised her many years ago. With the help of many angels, that promise was fulfilled and Xiao Gou now resides in the states with her forever family.

Other children I wrote about in the book are doing fine and I am in contact with many of their forever moms. I just received updated school photos of Yue Hua and Le Ci and boy, are they adorable!

Do you plan to write a sequel to Silent Tears?

At one time I did plan to write a follow up to Silent Tears and actually have it about half way complete. But for now I’ve realized that Silent Tears was told from the China side but the follow up would now have to be told from this side of the pond, from the perspective of where are they now. For now, I haven’t found an idea that would allow me to do that without infringing on their new lives and privacy. So the follow up book has been put aside and may never be told.

Do you still advocate for the children of China?

Absolutely! Someone wrote a review for Silent Tears and said I had an agenda. What that is supposed to mean I have no idea but maybe she was right. My agenda was, is, and always will be to continue to give a voice to children who have none. I’ve been advocating for the kiddos for going on ten years now in many different avenues, projects, and positions. Currently I’m a volunteer director for AOW (An Orphan’s Wish) and that is how I give my time and efforts to continue my work for China’s children. You can read more about what we do here and possibly find a way to give a helping hand yourself! http://www.anorphanswish.org/what-we-do/what-we-do.html

Did you go to China and work in an orphanage just to publish a book?

No. But I won’t say I’m glad it didn’t work out that way because the book has found many readers who later adopted or became supporters of organizations that help children in China. The book came about when I was writing weekly (sometimes daily) updates of my life in the orphanage and so many people said the content should be put into a book so the rest of the world could know. I did go to China with a goal of writing a book, among other goals, but that was a children’s book and it was put aside half way complete when I could no longer focus on anything but my work at the orphanage.

Did you know you’d go on to write more books after your memoir?

Honestly, no. I have always liked to write and pour my words, feelings, and dreams out on paper. After publishing the memoir, I took some creative writing courses and joined a writer’s critique group. I decided to finally start expunging all the little stories out of my head by putting them in books. I now write Asian-inspired fiction, and by creating colorful characters that draw the reader in to know more, I strive to raise awareness about issues in China that affect women and children. I believe, and have been told, that I get better with each book. (Yes, my writing in Silent Tears was my first project and admittedly the writing somewhat amateurish!) I do hope readers will give my latest book, A Thread Unbroken, a chance because with it, I’ve put out what I feel is my best writing yet. I may never get to the level of my favorite authors, Lisa See and Amy Tan, but I’ll continue to try!

What’s Next?

I have just finished the first book in my family saga called The Scavenger’s Daughters

SD_ScavengersDaughters

Here is a sneak peek:

Having survived torture and imprisonment during China’s Cultural Revolution, Benfu escaped to find love with his compassionate and beautiful Calla Lily. Together they build a fulfilling life around the most menial of jobs—Benfu’s work collecting trash. As he sorts through the discards of others, he regularly discovers abandoned children. With unwavering determination, he and Calli spend decades creating a family of hand-picked daughters that help heal the sorrow and brighten their modest home. But all is not perfect and when crisis threatens to separate their family, Benfu—or possibly his band of headstrong daughters—must find a way to overcome the biggest hardship yet.

Inspired by a true story, and set against the backdrop of a country in transition, The Scavenger’s Daughters is a sweeping present day saga of triumph in the face of hardship, and the unbreakable bonds of family against all odds.  Available at this LINK ON AMAZON.COM

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Like Winter Just a Little Bit

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life

So—the weather is finally getting colder and everyone around me knows how much I hate cold weather. It makes my back hurt, my knees hurt, and I walk around stiff and all old-lady-looking bundled up in scarves and thick socks, but stop! There is one advantage to cold weather. Something I see that is beneficial. A light at the end of the tunnel, pot of gold, rainbow, all that jazz…

The birds are leaving.

I know this is weird coming from a recovering bird lover. If you’ve been in my house, you’ll see a surprising  amount of bird cages. Heck, right now I’m at my desk and can see 5 without turning my head!

But my bird cages are empty. And so are the cute little bird feeders I hang from my porch and on the tree down by our pond. It’s so mean. I’m like, come on wittle birdies….see what I got…

And what I got is nada. Nothing. For them, anyway.  No more spending my hard-earned dollars on their skanky little beaks.

Why, you ask? Because I’m still not over my bird trauma. Two years later and I still shiver and sometimes have nightmares over my ‘experience’.

So this is the way it went down.

I loved birds at one time. L-O-V-E-D them, I tell ya! So much so that when one sassy little bird mama built a nest under out porch, I was tickled to death. All I had to do was get on my knees and look through the crack and could see the tiny speckled eggs! I was in heaven!

Then we went on vacation. While away, I worried about the little eggs and the sweet birdie mama. Were they okay? Did a snake get them? Would they survive?

We arrived back from our vacation and the next morning I realized I hadn’t checked to see how the eggs were doing. I went out to my porch, knelt down and put my eye to the crack between the decking boards.

Baby birds! Oh my—they were so freaking cute!

They sensed someone only inches from their nest and opened their tiny beaks at me. Feed me! I wished I could! I was so thrilled and felt so lucky that I had a front row seat to watch the baby chicks grow up and leave the nest. I wondered if they were as thrilled as humans when their young fly away, and if their young, like humans, come back when they are hungry and broke? But I finally got my fill of staring at the birds and got back up. It took me a second to get my aching knees under control but when I did, I felt something crawling on my neck.

That was just the beginning.

I reached up and felt lots of somethings crawling on my neck. On my face. In my hair!!

I screamed. Bird lice! Holy crap! I was covered in bird lice!

I ran across the porch screaming like my head was on fire and stripping out of my clothes. I slung open the front door and ran across the living room, losing articles of clothing and screaming until I was bare naked and hysterical—wiping the little suckers off of me.

Straight to the shower I went and stood under scalding hot water until it ran cold, sobbing and clawing at my hair. I poured shampoo, conditioner, Lysol, then more conditioner until my hair resembled something you might see on a Halloween scarecrow. I even considered hooking up electricity and frying the little suckers!

But that was just the first scene.

I got out and did what I always do when I’m freaked out and need to be educated about something serious.

I googled it.

Hmmm…bird lice comes up with quite some terrifying stories. Tales of humans losing their homes, money, and even sanity in their war against bird lice that has invaded their bodies and lives. Tales that had me shaking in my chair and dialing my husband at work to tell him life as we knew it was over. There was no outrunning it, I was doomed.

To see what I mean, you can go here. http://birdmites.org/nightmare.html

But I wouldn’t give up easily. I was taking back my life!

First, Ben was called home to remove the nest of mangy, lice-infested varmints. I wouldn’t let him touch it with his hands, I stood guard while he used a shovel. Because of Peta, I won’t tell you where the birds were relocated but I can say we didn’t hurt them. /snicker

Then I cleaned like nobody’s business. I vacuumed, mopped, scrubbed, scoured, disinfected, you name it. To me and the house.  And for weeks I never relaxed. Ben had to check my head several times a day. He never found a single one after that first shower, but oh, how I tortured him with my pleas to ‘just look one more time!’

I surfed all the nightmare stories online and sympathize with all those who were victims of the horrible disease of bird lice. I kept myself up at night worrying, scratching, checking, cleaning….

But I finally stopped.

Now I just worry about something else.

But I am glad the cold weather is here and our bird population is dwindling.

And honestly, I still have a soft spot for birds. As long as they stay far, far away.

The End–you can go back to your productive day and stop reading the ramblings of a crazy woman now.

 

 

 

It Takes A Village…

Written by Kay on . Posted in How You Can Help A Child

Meet Peter.

I stare at this face and try to determine how he is feeling. Sad? Angry? Left behind? Wary?

Whatever emotion it is, this is how he looked when he arrived at the AOW House of Love last July. While most 11-year-old kids are busy with school activities, sports and other hobbies, Peter was leaving his second home in his short life and arriving at his third. Peter was born with Spina Bifida and as a result he cannot walk. His parents relinquished him at the age of 7, and of course Peter still struggles with that and is cautious about opening his heart again!

But House of Love was prepared for that. Before Peter arrived, they prepped Brad that he would soon welcome a room buddy that had similar needs, and that the staff was depending on him to help Peter settle in. Brad took that challenge to heart and when Peter arrived, he immediately began to bond with him and within a few weeks was rewarded with a new best friend who’d decided to trust again.

With his newfound independence of a wheelchair and a crash course and subsequent talent for playing Wii, Peter is doing much better. Not only does he have a healthier and happier outlook on life and his future, but he is participating in chores and learning responsibilities to make him feel a complete part of the House Of Love.  Surprisingly for a boy of his age, he also loves school and the unique access to an education that being with us gives him.

Peter is getting almost everything he needs right now to make his life better. I say almost because unfortunately, it costs for An Orphan’s Wish to be able to facilitate this amazing home. Each child needs sponsors to help alleviate the costs, and Peter still needs 4 more. If you’d like to be a part of helping Peter reach his potential while staying at the AOW House of Love, and your family budget can afford the $35 monthly sponsorship, please comment below and/or click this AOW link. I thank you for your generosity, but I know more than my gratitude, a face that has been transformed from the one above to this one below is thanks enough.

I’ve learned over the years that the old saying of ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ is not just a cliché. In these cases it is the simple truth. As always, thank you for coming here to read this, as I know that means you have a heart like mine, to do what you can to help a child.—Kay Bratt

Want to Win an Advanced Reader’s Copy of A Thread Unbroken? [Winners Posted]

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, Contests and Give-A-Ways

If you would like your name to be in the drawing to win an ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of my latest novel, A Thread Unbroken, before it is even released to the public, please comment below. I’ll draw 10 names on Tuesday, September 18 using Random.org.

If you are chosen, you graciously agree to:

1. Write a review on Amazon for the book

2. After the release date, link to the book on Amazon from your facebook page

ARC’s are usually sent out to magazines, newspapers, authors and blog owners who help promote the book upon it’s release. I’ve put aside 10 copies just for my readers (ie: Facebook friends) as a huge thank you for their support. I wish I had more than 10 but I’ve had to sneak those from my marketing manager..shhhh!

Comment below if you agree to the stipulations and would like to be in the drawing. You can find the book on Amazon at this link to pre-order the Kindle or Print version.

Winners! Okay, after counting backwards and forwards multiple times…I’ve come up with these names as winners: Cassandra Wilson, Amy Aichele, Mia Danielle, Alice Harris, Cherie Jones, Danae Aman Meister, Dennis Wiemer, Sarah Scott, Sandra Dotson Sawwan, Connie Chung. Please email me at Kaybratt70@Hotmail.com so I can match your email address to the one linked to the comment to ensure I have the correct people. In your email, please give me the physical address you would like me to ship the book to. Thanks so much, everyone, for your participation! I wish I had more I could give away!

The Heart That Won’t Let Go

Written by Kay on . Posted in How You Can Help A Child

In early June a tiny baby girl was left fighting for her right to survive at a local hospital in China. Possibly only living on borrowed time, her path touched that of a woman named Kirsten, our director of The House of Love in Guilin. Kirsten intervened and the fragile girl was examined by a doctor. With one look, that doctor nick-named her Lucky because she was still holding on, despite the odds stacked against her.  Born at 33 weeks at just under four pounds, Lucky was also suffering from duodenal atresia, a life threatening medical condition that required immediate surgery for her to survive much longer.

On June 21 financial help was secured from New Hope Foundation and Lucky received her first surgery. Because of severe post-op complications, she underwent surgery a second time on July 6. For the next several weeks, Lucky fought for her life by gaining strength and overcoming other challenges until she could be released into our care at The House of Love (An Orphans Wish) in mid-August.

It was there that she was reunited with Kirsten, her guardian angel and the one who refused to give up on little Lucky. Since then Kirsten has devoted unlimited time and energy to fight for this little girl, and Lucky is improving because of such dedicated care.

Lucky has now been named Kirsten, in honor of the love and care she is receiving. Will Little Kirsten make it? No one knows her fate, but we do know that she has been placed in the hands of those who want to do what they can to give her the best chance possible to live out her life.  She has a long road to go and we want her to continue to recover and heal at The House of Love. However, in order for this to happen, Little Kirsten needs 8 sponsors. While love makes a lot of difference in the prognosis of these children, there are still responsibilities to be met and even though the house is about at capacity, we want to make sure Little Kirsten can stay. What does your donations as a sponsor cover? It covers basics just like our own children need; housing, caretakers, meals, basic medical care, preschool/education, toys, and even clothing. For some kids sponsorships cover additional medical testing if needed, or physical therapy.

With the help of sponsors for Little Kirsten, she will continue to thrive and grow. If you feel you are meant to be one of those who help this little girl through this crisis, please click here to become a sponsor and yet one more needed guardian angel for Little Kirsten. And let me know on this blog or Facebook if you willl!

As always, thank you for your continued support for these little hearts that won’t let go.

Christmas In August

Written by Kay on . Posted in Contests and Give-A-Ways

I know we are a bit early for preparing for Christmas but I just had to alert you to these awesome new Christmas stockings made by Mollie Anderson, an AP who has talently discovered a new way to provide for her adoption fund so she can bring her child home from China. Please take a look at these stockings made from fabric purchased from Xi’an, China. The stockings measure 15 inches long and 9 inches across at the foot. Her stockings are all shown on her Etsy page here and can even be monogrammed!

One lucky reader will win a stocking from Mollie. All you have to do is go to Mollie’s Etsy page and take a look around, then come back and comment on this blog post to tell me which stocking was your favorite. A winner will be pulled from random.org on August 31.

And we all know I love to reward those who support my writing and help me spread the word by posting reviews on Amazon. If you have done at least one review for any Kay Bratt books, add that to a seperate comment to get your name in 1 additional time! (that’s my way of saying THANK YOU for your support!)

What’s in Kay Bratt’s Pants?

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life

Anyone who knows me in real life knows they never see me out in public unless I have on the basic makeup, hair decent and real clothes on. However, this week has been tough! I woke up this morning hoping I’d feel better but alas, another storm headache hanging around.

So, after a few hours of work I went to get myself ready to go to town and mail another box of donated shoes to China. I slapped on my face, made my hair presentable, then stood in front of my closet looking for something decent but comfortable to replace the ratty old sweats I was wearing.

After a few moments I realized I just didn’t want to give up my nice, cozy China circa 2003 knock-off Abercrombie sweats, even for an hour. I debated then told myself that no one would possibly notice little old me behind a huge box of shoes anyway. So I kept them on, added some cute earrings just in case, and slipped out to walk Riley. In his undeniable urge to seek out which neighborhood dog had the audacity to pee on our land, he dragged me all around the barn and into the high grass before I finally got all of his 13 lbs of pure muscle under control and back to the house. Worn out from his efforts, I looked down and saw that now not only were my sweats ratty and frayed, they were also now wet at the bottoms. Oh well, if I was going to jump off the deep end of ne’er thee care, I was going all in. I climbed into the car and headed to town.

On the way there, I thought I felt something crawly on my leg. Then I remembered that I had been dragged through high (wet) grass and was convinced not only was it something with multiple legs, but was the dreaded Lyme-infested tick coming to get me and add to my daily bouts of physical discomfort. We’ve thus far this summer pulled approximately two dozen ticks from either the dog or our furniture, and I was sure I had number 25.

I tried to calm myself as I felt a pin-sized lump through the fabric of my China sweats and held it down. Not only was I speeding along on a 4-way at 65 mph, but now I was doing it while isolating the mysterious lump in my pants so that it wouldn’t crawl around and spread more of its Lyme juice on my body. I debated pulling over but then saw a vision of a news clip stating ‘woman freaks over bug and gets run over’. I decided to wait. Then I heard my irritating little buzzer telling me I had emails start coming in and it drove me crazy that I couldn’t check them because being the safety queen I am, I had one hand on the wheel and one hand on the lump, leaving no hands for my handy dandy smart phone. The inability to check my emails added to my escalating tension.

Finally I pulled into the post office, relieved that I was off the road and no longer a potential hazard to those around me. I maneuvered into the only empty parking space in the entire lot, eager to put my car into park so I could somehow look in my pants.

Of course, my luck would have it that the van parked to my right had a cute air con fixit man sitting in the driver’s seat giving me the eye. There was no way I could possibly look in my pants with him watching me. I may be 40(ish), but I’m not dead, ladies.

So I waited.

So did he.

I gave in first and got out, retrieved my box and did the walk of shame right in front of his van window in my shabby, baggy, knock-off sweats.

I was so glad the box covered my face. The tick could wait. I wanted my adventure to be over.

In the post office I got in line and filled out my customs sheet. All the while my mind played a cartoon of an ugly, blood-fattened tick slowly creeping up my leg. Finally, after six people ahead of me, I got to the counter of the slowest post office clerk in the history of slow post office clerks. When he finally finished up and handed me my receipt, I sweetly thanked him and bolted from the building, sure the Lyme carrier was now well on his way to my precious nether region and I’d never find him again.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the air con guy had left. In his spot was an empty pickup truck. I looked around and saw no one paying me any attention. I opened my car door and using it as cover, stood between it and my seat and quickly untied my sweats, opened them widely and looked in.

I didn’t see Mr. Tick so I opened them wider. Now I know that I felt something crawling. I know I did. So I reached into my pants and felt all the way down to where the tick was when I held him against his will all the way to town.

I found that lump and cringing at what I had to do (that was usually the job of my responsible bug-fighting Big Ben), I pulled that tick out of my pants. I had him! I was so relieved! At least until I heard someone clear their throat and looked up to find an elderly gentleman only a foot in front of me waiting to get into the car beside mine, and smiling at me as I pulled my hand out of my pants. I smiled back and casually let go of the waistband of my pants. With a shiver I looked between my fingers to see that Mr. Tick had turned into Ratty Sweats Mr. Lint Ball.

I looked back up at the man and nodded. “Good afternoon.”  I pretended like he absolutely had not just caught me—a nice, southern lady—with my hands in my pants.

I also hoped he’d never read a fiction book in his life and would never match my face to that of Kay Bratt.

A Great Month in July!

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, How You Can Help A Child

So I’ve been especially busy this month. Besides all the personal (boring to you) stuff that has been going on at our house, I was able to make time to fill my spirit with works that feed my passion.

Earlier in the month I spoke to a women’s group in Peachtree City. We talked about ‘Finding Your Sweet Spot’. I love to give this talk because I had to learn about it the hard way but my journey is a good model for others. I searched for many years for something to fill that empty hole in my heart. When I learned what my gift was (writing), and then found my passion (advocating for children), then brought them together to fulfill a need, (supporting the children of China), I soon found my own Sweet Spot. It is that part of my life that gives me satisfaction. I shared that message with the Peachtree Ladies and in turn, they supported my work by donating dozens of cute onesies to our AOW House of Love in China. Thank you, ladies! (I also got to meet some adorable children as a big plus!)

Then last weekend I got to attend Our Camp China for the second year in a row. Last year I was their guest speaker but this year was even better because I got to work with over 60 children! (Luci in the photo above was super sweet and wanted me to sign her copy of my book!) Anyway.. I was the Service Project Coordinator and helped with many crafts, but my project was helping the children with friendship bracelets. Each child made two identical bracelets; one for their own and one to send in a card to a child in an orphanage in China. This was a great way to help the children learn about needs outside of their own little world, and building compassion in our children will only result in a better future!

Jayme was a pro….she actually helped teach the others how to do the bracelets!

Maggie was my little Origami teacher. She is the craftiest kid I’ve ever seen! I wanted to put her in my pocket and sneak her home with me.

So as you can see, I had a lot of fun. Even with the hours of cutting and knotting thread I couldn’t have picked a better way to spend my weekend. I do hope I’ll see all the same faces next year plus a few more newbies! This year we had families from 12 states…..let’s add yours next year!

I hope you’ve all had a great summer so far.

 

 

Home is a Roof Over a Pig is in my Top 10 Books for the Year!

Written by Kay on . Posted in Adoption Stories

To say I loved this book is putting it mildly. Aminta Arrington’s Home is a Roof Over a Pig had me laughing, crying and reminiscing about my years spent living in China. Most interestingly, with this book I learned so much about China that I never knew! My book is now tattered and worn, as I’ve folded down many pages and highlighted text of passages I want to come back to and read again. You will also find out why Arrington chose such a strange title, a question I had from the start but now know.

If you love China and are interested in the culture there as well as a very honest depiction of what it would be like to live there as a foreigner, then I promise you won’t be disappointed to pick this book up. And get it in print—because you’ll want to read it again and probably loan it out!

(I loved reading about their visit to a traditional Chinese home for the holidays. As I was reading I was kicking myself for missing out on doing so many of the cultural things that Aminta and her family experienced. I had five years in China and could have squeezed so much more in! But I enjoyed seeing the adventures through this author’s eyes. You will too, I guarantee it!)

Blurb:

When all-American Aminta Arrington moves from suburban Georgia to a small town in China, she doesn’t go alone. Her army husband and three young children, including an adopted Chinese daughter, uproot themselves too. Aminta hopes to understand the country with its long civilization, ancient philosophy, and complex language. She is also determined that her daughter Grace, born in China, regain some of the culture she lost when the Arringtons brought her to America as a baby.
In the university town of Tai’an, a small city where pigs’ hooves are available at the local supermarket, donkeys share the road with cars, and the warm-hearted locals welcome this strange looking foreign family, the Arringtons settle in . . . but not at first. Aminta teaches at the university, not realizing she is countering the propaganda the students had memorized for years. Her creative, independent (and loud) American children chafe in their classrooms, the first rung in society’s effort to ensure conformity. The family is bewildered by the seemingly endless cultural differences they face, but they find their way. With humor and unexpectedly moving moments, Aminta’s story is appealingly reminiscent of Reading Lolita in Tehran. It will rivet anyone who is thinking of adopting a child, or anyone who is already familiar with the experience. An everywoman with courage and acute cultural perspective, Aminta recounts this transformative quest with a freshness that will delight anyone looking for an original, accessible point of view on the new China.
*If you read Home is a Rood Over a Pig, please take the time to write an honest review on Amazon. Your efforts are greatly appreciated!

 

Looks Who’s Walking!

Written by Kay on . Posted in How You Can Help A Child

Meredith is a little girl who is currently a resident of our AOW (An Orphans Wish) House of Love. She is now walking. Everywhere! Also, Meredith is available for adoption on the shared list for LID families only. If you’d like to know more about her please email

 advocacy@anorphanswish.org

To see more photos of her and hear about her latest accomplishments, please go to our blog here! An Orphans Wish Blog

Thank you for helping us to support these beautiful babies!