Kamikaze Kaiser the Foster Fail

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, Adoption Stories, For Dog Lovers

If you’ve ever heard the term #FosterFail, then you know exactly what’s coming. Last July (2016) Ben and I were on our way back from Nashville when I checked my messages and saw that the director of the rescue group I volunteer for was asking if anyone of us were near Asheville and could pick up a dog and keep him until they could find alternate foster care. As we were the nearest to him, we agreed and a few hours later we met a woman in the parking lot of Cracker Barrel and she handed off her son’s dog, Kaiser.

Kaiser4

From the first minute I met Kaiser, I was overwhelmed. Approximately four years old, he was extremely anxious and unruly, jumping around and whining, almost hysterical in his fright. I asked for a run down of his history and the woman proceeded to tell me that Kaiser had no manners, was misbehaved, not housebroken, and acted like a junkyard dog. (not sure what that means) For a moment, I second-guessed our decision to pick him up. We said our goodbyes and with no visible love loss, the woman walked away.

The rest of the trip home was memorable, to say the least. I kept Kaiser on my lap, perched on a pillow as I tried to calm him. A few times I thought he was going to bite me in the midst of his meltdown. It took nearly an hour of talking to him and petting him, but he finally settled down except for a long sigh every now and then. When he calmed, I got a good look at his eye and was disgusted at how bad it looked, all crusty and red. Kaiser turned his head to look around as though blind in that eye and my heart broke for him.

“You call them and get someone else to take him first thing tomorrow,” Ben said when we could breathe again. “He’s going to be too much for us.”

At home we introduced him to Riley, who wanted no part of it. I also still had Lola, my first foster dog and she turned her nose up as well. I set Kaiser up a small area behind a gate in my dressing room, and that is where he slept and spent a lot of time for the first few days. I gave him as much attention as I could, but it was disheartening. Kaiser was a sad little fellow. Truly, he seemed heartbroken. Or just broken.

Kaiser_0

At the vet’s office, I was the drama of the day. Kaiser was like a bucking bronco in the waiting room and I could barely control him. Inside the exam room, he climbed me like a monkey, wrapping himself around my neck, completely terrified. The doctor informed me that the eye issue appeared to be from a very old injury and was most likely very painful. I asked if Kaiser could see from it and the doctor said we wouldn’t know for a while. The plan was to treat it aggressively for two weeks, which would require multiple sessions of meds and cleaning each day. We also discovered that Kaiser hadn’t seen a vet in over two years and needed all his shots.

After talking to Ben, we decided to keep Kaiser with us until we could get the eye injury under control.

Obviously, the poor pup came with some issues. If we’d give all the dogs a treat or toy, he’d bully them and hoard the treats. He had to be taught he wasn’t their boss. To be groomed, he had to be sedated and even then, he tried to bite the groomer. One of his ‘behaviors’ was he wanted to hump everything all the time. I spoke to a specialist and they informed me that the humping was not connected to dominance, and instead was Kaiser’s way of coping with anxiety. She suggested I give Kaiser his own special stuffy and make him keep the action to one designated room. She advised if we didn’t allow him his own self-soothing methods, he could do things that were much more damaging, like eating our drywall. So we gave him a stuffed elephant.  And wow– did he love that elephant. He loved her all the time. All. The. Time.

Slowly, over the next few weeks, we found another side of Kaiser emerging. Under the fright that made him act out and look grumpy, he had bursts of happiness. It only took something small for his little tail to bob. He was grateful for each and every gesture. He still had issues, though. When we brought out the leash to begin including him in our nightly walks, he would freak out and attack it as though it were a rattlesnake. It would take some time to get the leash on him and sometimes we’d have to carry him out the door, he was so anxious. At times Kaiser would also seem upset over nothing and run hide under the bed. But we worked with him, showing him that we would never hurt him. Lola began to tolerate him and we also noticed that Riley took a special interest in him, going to touch noses throughout the day as if to say, “You okay there, buddy? We got ya, man. Calm down…”

Pets8

One week turned into two, then three, and soon was four. Kaiser was no longer put behind the gate except at bedtime or when we left the house. Curiously, he began to follow Ben whenever he was home. Despite Ben’s initial reluctance, he worked hard to help me rehabilitate Kaiser, showing him what a human pack leader should be like. Firm, but gentle. Confident. Trustworthy.

Kaiser stopped being a bully to the other dogs. With diligent corrections, he learned that he would get his share of food, toys, and treats and didn’t have to be so dominant. He also stopped loving his elephant so much. What started out as more than a dozen love sessions a day soon dwindled to a few times and then just once a day. We discovered that he absolutely loved going for a walk. We found a different groomer after interviewing several, and luckily Kaiser was fine with him, no sedation needed. He started behaving somewhat normal and while we were busy with life, we neglected to notice that Kaiser was finding his place in the pack.

Kaiser_1

Finally, the director messaged to let me know it was time to start interviewing prospective adoptive families for Kaiser. Verbally, I agreed, but inside I felt sick. Kaiser had a lot of special needs and would require someone to be very understanding. I didn’t know his photo had been added to the website and we had four interested families. As a foster, it was my job to screen them and try to find a good fit.

I made contact with the first couple and began to send them photos and even a video. It was a retired couple without dogs or children, and at first I thought they might be the ones. Then we had a call and he asked me, “he doesn’t beg, does he? Because I won’t put up with begging at my table.. ”

I marked him off the list. If a little begging was that big of a deal, then he couldn’t even begin to handle a dog with Kaiser’s issues. The next family was marked off because they had small children and I’d come to learn that Kaiser was nervous around the kids we passed on our walks. Could he get over it? Possibly, but I just felt in my gut that he needed a quieter home.

Next on the list was a lady that seemed to be perfect. Her children were older (two boys, high school and college) and there were no other pets. We talked back and forth for a week and I felt so good about it that we set up an appointment for her to come meet Kaiser. A few days before the meeting, I took him to the vet and his eye was still not good. The vet said another few weeks, on a new rx this time. He would continue to need his eye cleaned multiple times a day, plus drops. How would his new mom do it when she worked full-time? And wouldn’t Kaiser be lonely during the day after having such a pack to hang with every minute? So I delayed the adopt-meeting. In the meantime, Kaiser was transforming into a new little dog that continuously made us laugh with his jolly ways. Everything to him was so exciting! Food. Walks. Belly rubs. He was so grateful! And watching him and Riley wrestle together, then lay next to each other, made my heart swell. It was as though they were long lost brothers.

The days kept ticking by until weeks turned into a few months. We took the boys with us to the beach and Kaiser was beyond thrilled. Everywhere we went, people thought he and Riley were the ‘cutest brothers’. And slowly his fear began to take a backseat to other emotions of hope and happiness. He no longer fought the leash and his anxiety fits came less and less frequently. He could walk into the animal hospital without making a spectacle of us. We’d done our job in readying him for the next steps in his life. Finally, when I could no longer find any excuse to continue to foster him, Ben came home from work and I told him that we would probably have to say goodbye to Kaiser by the end of the week.

Ben, (who let me remind you was never that excited about me fostering dogs and wanted Kaiser gone the first day) turned to me and said, “maybe we should keep him.”

Kaiser_Daddy

And that, my friends, is the rest of the story.

Kaiser_2

Kaiser officially became part of the Bratt Pack and it hasn’t been a perfect journey. He still has some issues but don’t we all? His eye is much better though we still treat it daily and it can be costly with the vet visits and meds. Next steps is a possible vet ophthalmologist but at least he can see well out it now. I can tell you this, too. Kaiser is not a junk yard dog. He is housebroken. And he does have manners. She was wrong. And funny thing, until he came along, we didn’t even know we were unbalanced. Now I couldn’t imagine life without my little Kaisie-Bear. And the bond that he and Ben share is one that only a rescued dog and his person can know.

Kaiser_Beach

In closing, perhaps you are at a time in your life that you can volunteer for a rescue group? They really need foster families! Or if you cannot foster, then perhaps you could offer a donation to help cover the medical needs of the dogs taken in for care and a second chance? There are many rescues out there. NC Yorkie Rescue is the non-profit I volunteered for and they do a phenomenal job with such scarce resources. They and others could use your help. Also please consider adding to your pack from a rescue, you would not believe the gratitude the dog will have for the rest of it’s life. It’s so rewarding to see a dog’s personality transformed as he/she heals from the ordeal they have been through.

Adopt-Foster-Sponsor

fosteradoptrescue

If you are a dog-lover that also likes a great story, please check out my upcoming novel, Wish Me Home, where you’ll fall in love with a dog named Hemi as he searches for a place to call home.

wishmehome_final

 

Wouldn’t You Like to Meet Your Birth Mother?

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

At the end of Labor Day weekend, Ben and I boarded a flight home from the Chinese Heritage Camp in Denver, Colorado. Flying coach, we squeezed our tall bodies into our seats and readied ourselves for the uncomfortable experience. The flight attendant (I’ll call her Kelly) greeted us and as she oversaw other passengers, she talked to us. Completely entertaining in her giddy exhaustion after a long day of traveling, she got around to asking us why we’d been in Colorado. I explained the adoption camp, and  we talked about why I was there.

When the couple in the exit aisle proved unable to meet requirements, Kelly had us switch seats. It was a win for us because we instantly had the coveted leg room, and Kelly said it was a win for her because she got interesting people to communicate with. (Her jump seat was directly in front of me)

Once the flight was underway, she told me that it was ironic that we had connected that day because she is an adoptee. She explained that some forty-odd years ago her birth mother gave her up for adoption and she spent her first few weeks of life in a children’s home before being adopted.

Kelly said she’d had a wonderful life with awesome parents, and she was grateful to her birth mother for giving her that gift. She also said that over the years, she’s gotten the question a number of times; wouldn’t you like to meet your birth mother?

I asked her, “Well, what do you tell them?”

She smiled and explained to me that no, she would never want to meet the woman who gave her life. Why? Because she likes the image she’s held of her in her mind for all these years and would never want it shattered. You see, Kelly fully believes that her birth mother is kind, generous, and gave her a gift the day she relinquished her to a new fate.

Adoption.

It’s an amazing thing.

The Love of a Birthmother by Susan Scharpf

The Love of a Birthmother by Susan Scharpf

 

Searching for birthparents in China (when an adoptee starts to question)

Written by Kay on . Posted in Adoption Stories, Book Recommendations

 

motherbridge

(Illustration Credit: Mother Bridge of Love)

Recently I received another of many similar letters from an adoptee, asking me if I had any advice on how to search for her birthparents in China. While this is the words from one wise girl, there are others out there like her:

I recently read your book, Chasing China“. I absolutely loved it! I was very touched by the story. I was adopted from China. The whole aspect of “the finders” was quite intriguing. I would like to seek out my biological family, and don’t know where to start. Do you have any suggestions? I don’t think I’ll be able to travel to China anytime soon. I also have complete support from my adoptive parents in this search. I would really appreciate any advice you could offer on going about this. I understand the concept is like searching for a needle in the haystack, but I still would like to at least try. 

At first because I thought she might be underage, I was hesitant to answer. And while I was considering just how to answer, I asked the advice of the pros….the adoptive parents in my circle. I received some amazing advice and in addition to advising adoptees that they should read my memoir, Silent Tears; A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage, to get an idea of the culture of a social welfare institute (orphanage in China), I am working on putting together a document that will consists of tips, groups, websites, and advice pertaining to finding birth parents in China. You are welcome to ask for it via contacting me on my website, or I’ll also be discussing it on my newsletter. You can subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/q9_2X

silent_tears_KindleCover

In the meantime, I received another message from another adoptee. Her words brought tears to my eyes and made me realize (or re-emphasize) that I need to treat these inquiries with the utmost respect and compassion. Her name is Mallory Anderson and she’s a young woman who I think you will agree, has a way with words. She has given me permission to share her note:

Hi Kay Bratt, Not sure if you know me, but my name is Mallory Anderson, and I noticed your recent post about a young women who is wanting to find her birth parents. I am adoptee from China, and I remember as a young adopted kid from China, the thought of my birth parents sometimes came up and I would have mix feelings about it. When I saw your post last night, it really touched me, and reminded me of how I used to feel as a young child. Torn between the amazing parents I was meant to have, and yet not knowing of how I came to be here. For the past few months, I’ve been feeling that I in any way I can, I should help others as they deal with these feelings. But now that I’m older, I know that my past doesn’t define who I am, or who I will become. What I’ve been through has shaped me into the kind of women I am today. I just wanted to give my personal opinion since I was adopted and have no clue who my birth parents are. So a little about me, I was adopted when I was 3 and a half, coming to American in December of 93. Growing up for me, there was never a doubt that my adopted parents were the parents that God gave me, or the parents I was always meant to be with. I love my parents so much, and I am exactly like my mom. But sometimes it comes to my mind, and you can never fault adopted kids for thinking this way, of who were my birth parents? As an adopted kid, it’s always a running thought of who were they. Now that I’m older and know more about China, how the whole adopted situation goes on, as well as the politic in China, I’ve been a little more interested in myself. I definitely do not think of her asking is bad, and whether she is younger or older, it’s important to listen, to hear what she is searching for. This is about her and how she feels, and it is always important to respect all feelings when it comes to a situation like this, but it will effect her more than the adopted parents. So personally if there is any way of making her feel better about her birth parents, I would try. I hope this helps, because I noticed all the post were very helpful parents or caring friends, so I thought it would be nice to hear from an adoptee from China.

Best wishes, Mallory Anderson

Well, yes, Mallory, it is helpful to hear from an adoptee and I appreciate you taking the time to pour out your thoughts as well as grant permission for them to be public. While every adoptive parent I’ve ever come in contact with is very supportive in their child’s requests to know more about their pasts, if there are any out there who are questioning the pros and cons then maybe your words and that of the first adoptee’s above (thanks goes out to her, too!) will help them gain a new perspective. Many thanks to all who have contributed to the document of Birth Family Search Tips that I am compiling and will freely give out to all who ask (as long as they are 18 or older).

~Kay Bratt

Kay Bratt’s Red Skies! The Fourth book in the Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters

Written by Kay on . Posted in Adoption Stories, Book Recommendations, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

Red Skies, the 4th novel set in the world of

The Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters

 Download today and find out why so many readers have become invested in this family of daughters.

Download from here: http://amzn.to/1hLjZdc

RedSkies-800 Cover reveal and Promotional

“I feel empty, as though I’m leaving behind a piece of myself.” As the daughter of the town scavenger, Mari grew up knowing hardship, but she could have never anticipated the struggles facing her as an adult. Feeling alone and isolated, she dreams of a better life. On the other side of town, a little girl is forced to live on the streets, but silently she longs for the one thing she’s never known–a family. Max, a struggling American photojournalist, arrives in China with only one goal in mind; to face his demons and put an end to his own unbearable suffering. In Red Skies, the fate of three people who’ve never met will converge in profound and unexpected ways.

From the bestselling author of ‘A Thread Unbroken’ comes a fresh glimpse into the life of Benfu’s remarkable family.  Be swept up in this emotional yet hope filled story of Red Skies, set in the world of Kay Bratt’s ‘Tales of The Scavenger’s Daughters’.

*Red Skies is the 4th novel to the series but can be enjoyed first, last, or in between the other books. It can stand alone or be read as part of the series. So dig in at any time! Download from here: http://amzn.to/1hLjZdc

Introducing Kay Bratt’s…The Scavenger’s Daughters! (With a Sneak Peek!)

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, Adoption Stories, China-Inspired Book Recommendations, Short Story

SD

*Confetti! Confetti!*

So for the last year I have been writing, editing, tweaking, sweating, dreaming, writing, editing, tweaking some more….and finally I can introduce to you the fruits of my efforts (and those of the team behind me).

I do hope you will be in love with this family as much as I am.

The Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters

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.

  

The Scavenger’s Daughters is Available for pre-order NOW at Amazon!

And…..Coming in December 2013…

 Book Two in the Tales of The Scavenger’s Daughters,

TANGLED VINES

Scroll down for a Sneak Peek of The Scavenger’s Daughters:

Chapter One

Beitang City, Wuxi, China, 2010.

On a cloudy day in early January, Benfu stood outside his house and held the red pail under the spigot, waiting for it to fill. Today was a good day; when he pumped the handle the old pipes didn’t moan and rattle too much before deciding to cooperate. But he didn’t mind it so much either way—like him, the piece of iron was ancient but stubbornly kept going. And anyway, they had a history together and if a man could feel affection for a thing, then Benfu absolutely did. A silly fondness, but there all the same, for it was the very same temperamental water spigot that had been the matchmaker that brought him and his precious Calli together so many years before.

When the water reached the top, he pushed the pump handle down and carried the pail across the street to the old widow’s house. Quickly he filled the tins for her chickens and used the last of the water on her pot of herbs hanging in her window box. He looked at the chicken droppings and considered cleaning it up, but that was a task Widow Zu usually took on and he didn’t want to deprive her of that joy. And anyway, nothing was worse than the smell of chicken dung on a man’s hands.

Chuckling, he returned to his yard across the street, got on his bike and headed out for the day. Twenty minutes later, he pushed his rusted three-wheeled bicycle slowly up the steep hill and turned the corner. Around him the streets were coming alive. Morning vendors were opening their stalls and stacking displays of fruits and vegetables, sweepers cleaned the sidewalks, and early commuters bustled to work. As he strained to push the bike, the cars, electric scooters and other bicycles rushed past him. Most paid him no attention, for he was just one of many laborers out at the crack of dawn trying to get an early start to the day. With his weathered brown face and deep wrinkles he blended in, but unlike some of the men his age he passed who were doing their morning Qigong exercises or sitting at makeshift tables’ playing cards, Benfu still had a job to do. Even though he had lived on earth for over six decades, he could not retire.

He struggled the last few feet, listening to his water canteen bumping against the metal bar it was tied to and thought about how much the city had changed over the years. At least his side of Beitang City—Old Town Wuxi as some called it—still kept some of the old charm, while new Wuxi had grown with businesses and even many foreigners coming in to make their mark. Benfu was a transplant—he’d been sent to Wuxi as a teenager by his parents to escape the danger of Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. It was for his protection, they’d told him as they cried and bid him goodbye. What they had thought would be a better life for him was a time of trauma and hardship. And though he’d never intended to stay for so long, fate had intervened and Wuxi had become his home. But that was long ago and he’d survived many more hard times since then. Times that were better left unspoken of, times that made a day like today feel like child’s play.

At the top of the hill, Benfu mounted the bike again and with shoulders bent over the handlebars to add more weight, he pedaled slowly. He was already tired and that irritated him. He’d always been known to be bigger and stronger than most, but for the last year he just couldn’t shake the cough and heavy feeling that had enveloped him. Passing the line of street breakfast stands, he winced at the sudden squeaking from the rusty back wheel of his bicycle. As it began to bump and turn haphazardly, he hoped it would last the day, at least until he could ask his daughter to take a look to see if she could repair it.  If she could, that would save him some valuable coins that he could avoid paying the local repairman. He was lucky to have the transportation, and the three-wheeled bike was fitted with a makeshift cart on the back, allowing him a way to haul things home without carrying them in a basket on his back as he’d done for years before.

Benfu passed the cigarette store and for a moment he fought the sudden craving that overtook his thoughts. His wife had finally got her way when he’d stopped smoking a few years before, but there were days he could almost taste the sweet tobacco, he wanted it so badly. A welcome distraction, he heard his friend call his name from where she perched on the next front stoop, peeling peanuts.  His mouth watered at the sight of the treats in her bowl. He would have liked to be able to bring some peanuts home to add to their own simple dinner. Occasionally the woman saved a small bag behind her to hand over to him, but not today. He had many friends in the neighborhood and one had even complimented him long ago by telling him he was a big man with an even bigger presence. He didn’t quite know how he had a big presence but it had sounded nice. Always known to be soft-spoken and one to choose his words wisely, when he had something to say others usually listened.

Zao, Benfu. Cold day, eh?”

Benfu raised his hand to the woman and smiled. “Good morning to you, too, Lao Gu. Yes, very cold. But don’t worry, spring is coming soon!”

These days he was so used to being cold that he no longer thought much about it. At least there hadn’t been any snow this season—saving him the trouble of carrying his load when he couldn’t get the cart through. Sure his cough was worse in the cold, his old joints ached, and his gnarled hands cramped from the hours spent wrapped around the handles, but instead of dwelling on it he chose to focus on other matters. Matters like finding enough discarded items to earn enough for a day of meals for his family and if he was lucky—enough to put some savings toward their monthly rent bill. But first, his self-imposed obligation needed to be fulfilled for the day.

Zhu ni haoyun, Benfu.” She wished him luck and went back to peeling. No small talk was needed because there wasn’t anything new to discuss. They’d been passing each other for the last fifteen years and only stopped to catch up every month or so, unless either of them had news worth interrupting their chores. The woman was widowed and Benfu had known her husband back in the hard days. But those were times they didn’t talk about.

Benfu continued with his cart and hoped his morning would be uneventful. He didn’t wish to find anything out of the ordinary as he turned past the block of buildings. He really didn’t. He always wished to find nothing except trash. But sometimes something other than trash found him.

Now in the alley between two buildings, he guided his bike around soiled refuse bags and a line of jumbled bicycles, then heard the first mewl coming from a pile of boxes. He hoped it was nothing but a new kitten, strayed from its mother.  That would be the best scenario, for Benfu could help it find the rest of the litter and then go on with his day as usual. But the closer he got to the huge pile of trash, the more that hope faded. He’d heard this same sound before and he scolded himself that he should have known the difference from the start.

Sighing, he stopped the bicycle and climbed down. He walked over to the pile of cardboard boxes. Lifting them carefully and tossing them aside one by one, he dug down until he finally found the right one. As he paused to look at the labeling on the side of the cardboard, a couple at the end of the alley stopped and pointed at him, then moved along.

Gently he picked up the box and carried it to his cart. He carefully set it on top of the pile of trash he had collected on the way over. Opening the two flaps, he peered into the box and immediately connected with tiny dark eyes.

Aiya,” he muttered softly, so as not to scare her. The baby was very young—maybe only a few hours or possibly a few days. She lay in the box fully unclothed save for a scrap of a red shirt with frog ties and a few balled up newspapers scattered around her.  Benfu wrinkled his nose as the smell of urine wafted up from the soaked box.  He noticed her umbilical cord still hung from her tiny button, already turning dark from the lack of sustenance running through it. From the weak sound of her mewling and the mottled color of her skin, she didn’t have much time left.

Faster than most would think an old man could move, Benfu struggled out of his worn red overcoat and laid it on the ground in front of him. He then lifted the infant and set her on top of it. As he knelt down to wrap the material around her, he ignored the throbbing in his knees and rubbed her tiny feet and hands. He counted under his breath as he quickly massaged each petite toe and finger. While working to get the blood running in her body again, his eyes met hers and held.

With the surprise of being suddenly discovered, she had quieted and serenely stared up at Benfu, her dark eyes twinkling at him. She was beautiful, this one was, and he wondered what sort of ailment she might have that would have prompted her parents to relinquish her to a new fate.

“Hello, nuer. I’ve come to take you home.  Just hold on and we’ll get you all fixed up. And we’ll add one more scavenger’s daughter to the world, yes we will.” He wrapped the coat all around her, making sure to double the sleeves around her icy feet. He gently laid her back in the box and after checking to make sure he had made a sufficient tunnel through the material for her to breathe through, he closed the flaps again.  Looking around, he hoped the remaining cardboard would be there when he returned, but for now he needed to hurry.

Turning the bicycle around he shivered from the sudden gust of wind that blew through his clothing. He climbed aboard and slowly began to pedal, willing the stiffness in his knees away. As he picked up the pace and began his journey home, he sighed and looked over his shoulder again at the box his newest treasure was nested in. He ignored the nervous fluttering in his stomach that reminded him how hard it would be to feed one more hungry mouth, and instead gave thanks to the Gods that he had found the baby girl before it was too late.

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!

 

Chasing China by Kay Bratt

Written by Kay on . Posted in Adoption Stories

As reviewed by Samantha March, Author/Blogger/Reviewer

Mia is beautiful, talented and has the world at her fingertips. But what makes her different than the average college student who juggles a heavy workload and a rat of a boyfriend? Many years ago she was born to an unknown family in China but soon discarded to fend for herself in a busy train station.  Fate stepped in when Mia was taken to the local orphanage and adopted at the age of four by her American family. Life has been good for her, or at least as much as she has allowed it to be while pushing her deep feelings of abandonment to the back of her mind. Finally she has decided that in order to move forward, she must confront her past. Mia takes a journey to the mysterious land of her birth and embarks on a mission to find answers. As she follows the invisible red thread back through her motherland, she is enamored by the history and culture of her heritage–strengthening her resolve to get to the truth, even as Chinese officials struggle to keep it buried. With her unwavering spirit of determination, Mia battles the forces stacked against her and faces mystery, danger, a dash of romance, and finally a conclusion that will change her life.
******************************************************************************
Samantha March says: “Well, this is quite the emotional story. I love how much you learn from reading, and this is definitely a book that educated me on a topic I had never previously heard of. The orphanages in China are just one of the appalling factors that I was informed about, and just a lot about China in general. My heart broke reading about the children that are snatched from their homes in order to beg and steals on the streets – and what happens if they don’t bring anything back for the captors. The cover-ups that go on from government officials and authorities made me feel like I was reading a juicy spy novel of sorts– until I was brought back to reality. These are real situation that are happening every day. Wow.
******************************************************************************************
Bratt weaves Mia’s journey with a delicate hand but a strong voice. Mia is so brave and such a beautiful heroine. I loved the romance angle as well, except there were a few times where I thought Jax’s dialogue was a bit peculiar. To my ears he sounded much older than his age. There were a few editing mistakes that I caught along the way as well, but nothing to really deter me from the plot. Overall, I thought this was a really great book that I think people should read, for the story and for the educational experience you can get. I look forward to reading more from Kay Bratt.
***************
****4 stars ****

Buy Chasing China at Amazon as a print or ebook!

 

 

Mei Li and the Wise Laoshi FREE one day only!

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

As a huge THANK YOU to those of you who have supported my work, read my books, given Amazon reviews, participated in giveways, and helped to get the word out by sharing links…..I’ll be holding a promotion and putting my new release, Mei Li and the Wise Laoshi, for free for one day only as a Kindle e-book. If you do not have Kindle, you can download the book to your PC or Smartphone–and even your Ipad.

I hope this will give you parents a chance to screen the book and decide if it is one you will add to your children’s collection. I also hope (fingers crossed!) if you download it for free, you will take the time to put a short 1 or 2 sentence review on Amazon letting others know your thoughts.

Again, I can’t thank you all enough for believing in me and encouraging me to continue my dream of being an author. You’ll never know how much it means to me. I hope that my ‘giving away’ of thousands of dollars in royalties with this freebie will adequately show my appreciation.

Please be sure to get your free download from Amazon during the free period of 12:00 am (midnight) 1/2/2012 until it ends on 11:59 Pm PST on 1/2/2012. For those of you like me who are still in a holiday fog, the 24 hours starts tonight! (what I consider Sunday night but is really Monday morning)

I will be so anxious to hear what the kids say about Mei Li! Here is a short blurb:

Mei Li has just about had it with Cameron’s teasing, and she daydreams of having a fairy godmother. Instead she is granted with a wise old teacher from China who appears at her bedside! With his magic cane and his gentle ways, Laoshi takes Mei Li on an adventure to China and back to the day she was born to show her how her story began. Together they perch on a shaky pagoda and look at the Great Wall of China, a flowing river, and even pandas as the wise old Laoshi guides her through some hard questions she has been holding in her heart. Laoshi teaches Mei Li that a family is not just about who you were born to, but can also be created through the amazing gift of love.

Kay Bratt Releases a Children’s Book! Introducing Mei Li and the Wise Laoshi!

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

Available just in time for Christmas from CreateSpace and Amazon and now on Kindle and soon to be on Nook!

Mei Li and the Wise Laoshi

By Kay Bratt

Illustrated by Monika Vass

Mei Li has just about had it with Cameron’s teasing, and she daydreams of having a fairy godmother. Instead she is granted with a wise old teacher from China who appears at her bedside! With his magic cane and his gentle ways, Laoshi takes Mei Li on an adventure to China and back to the day she was born to show her how her story began. Together they perch on a shaky pagoda and look at the Great Wall of China, a flowing river, and even pandas as the wise old Laoshi guides her through some hard questions she has been holding in her heart. Laoshi teaches Mei Li that a family is not just about who you were born to, but can also be created through the amazing gift of love.

Just in time to wrap and put under the Christmas tree for that special adopted child in your life!

[Buy now at CreateSpace, or Amazon]

..and of course we have to include a giveaway to celebrate what has been one of my most difficult projects yet! So share a link to this blog post on your fb wall and/or website and come back and comment that you did it. Last day to get in the drawing is Friday, Dec 9 @ midnight EST. The winner will be drawn on Saturday, December 10, just in time to get you out the prize of a signed collection of Kay Bratt books. You’ll receive an autographed Silent Tears (with brand ‘spankin new red/white cover), an autographed Chasing China, and of course an autographed Mei Li and the Wise Laoshi with a special note written to the child of your choice.

You will get an extra chance to win for each Amazon review you have written for a Kay Bratt book. Just be sure to alert me in the comment you leave below and tell me which ones you reviewed so I can double check and add your chances!

    

Thank you for your support of Mei Li and the Wise Laoshi!

Happy Father’s Day!

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

This coming Sunday will be Father’s Day and in many households means a huge celebration.  In the adoption community, this day can be bittersweet as the child gets older and begins to understand that somewhere out there is (or was) a man who was instrumental to their creation.

We have touched on the subject of acknowledging birth mothers and the special ways that many have implemented that gesture into their lives—and I am interested to see if Father’s Day is similar. Do you help your children remember their birth father on Father’s Day? Is the subject of a birth father broached? If you feel you want to share ideas, how old is your child(ren) and what gesture does your family use to acknowledge their birth father?

Let me take this opportunity to say Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there who in the moment that they have taken on that responsibility for a little one—have changed their lives to become a better man in order to protect, guide and mentor the child in their lives.

In recognition of all the amazing adoptive fathers out there, I’d like to give away a book published by an interesting and talented adopted father of Chinese daughters.  Photographer Richard Bowen, the adoptive father of two Chinese girls, is a founding member of the board of directors of Half the Sky Foundation. I keep his book, Mei Mei; Little Sister, on display in my house and when I feel myself forgetting the little faces I knew so well in China, I only have to open the cover to be transported back to those days. It truly is an amazing and emotional book.

If you participate in this post by commenting about how you celebrate Father’s Day or how you acknowledge your adopted child’s birth father, your name will instantly be in the drawing for the Mei Mei; Little Sister photo book. Drawing will be held Sunday, June 19. So comment below!

And..if you don’t know what to get the dad in your household, a copy of my book inscribed with  a note or even little scribble (or even their traced handprint) from your child would make the perfect gift—and you still have time if you order today. Here is the link—what  are you  waiting for?  

Silent Tears; A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage