We would like to introduce you to a beautiful, brand new American citizen — seven-year old Bella. Bella has only been living in the United States for two months. Before that time, she was living in a Social Welfare Institute in Anhui province and attending kindergarten prep at our “Believe In Me” Huainan program. It warms our heart to hear how far Bella has come since she first began as a reluctant student at BIM, and we’d happy to feature her story as LWB’s February Story of the Month.
We first met Bella when we visited her SWI in October 2007 after she had been a student at “Believe In Me” for a month. LWB Education Director Missy Ridley was instructing the teachers on how to conduct morning circle time. Through the teacher, she asked each child to state their favorite color. None of the children were able to communicate their favorite color….none except Bella. She was the youngest in the class, but that didn’t deter her. She immediately and loudly proclaimed her favorite color was blue. She had only been a student there for a few weeks and within that time had become an active and enthusiastic participant!
From the “Believe In Me” reports, we got the impression that Bella was quite a character. She enjoyed performing in front of the class and reciting poems. Also, she loved having her hair done in different clips and barrettes. Bella enjoyed school and many teachers made note of her “rich imagination”.
This year, Bella moved up to tutoring services and began attending public school in Huainan. However, in November 2009, Bella experienced a life-changing event when she met her forever family. From what her new parents tell us, she has displayed great resilience and has met her new life and new family with great gusto! They write:
On adoption day, Bella adjusted well and even tried to comfort the crying babies at the Civil Affairs Office! The rest of the trip in China was filled with a mix of moods and emotions as we tried to bond and become a new family. There were sad moments as Bella mourned the loss of the only life she knew, but there were many delightful and happy moments as well. By departure time, Bella genuinely looked forward to seeing her new home and insisted that she was ready to leave her old life behind.
We arrived home on December 10, just in time for Bella to become the best Christmas gift her Mama and Baba could ever have asked for. Only a few days after returning home, she insisted on going to school and immediately loved her new teacher. It didn’t take long for this brave and independent 7-year old to ask that Mama not stay with her during class and plead with her parents to let her take the bus to and from school like all the other neighborhood kids.
School is hard work and there is much to catch up on, but we try to keep it fun and interesting. Bella attends both regular first grade classes at public school and Saturday Chinese school. All of her teachers report that she is a bright and outgoing student who appears to be adjusting well given the recent life-changing events of an international adoption.
By far, Bella’s favorite pasttime is going to the pool. She has become quite a happy little fish, and her favorite water activities include jumping into the water, observing other swimmers from underneath the water with her goggles on, and retrieving objects from the bottom of 3-inch deep water. She fully submerges herself for several seconds and pops back up with a big smile.
Bella is also learning all about responsibilities, chores, politeness and making good choices. While many of these are simply expected of her as a member of the family, others are rewarded with a small allowance. In addition to her own little bank, Bella puts aside a few of her quarters every week into the orphanage fund. She plans on sending a big box of chocolates and treats to her friends in China next Christmas.
What a big heart Bella has! We at LWB are thrilled that “Believe In Me” Huainan was able to give her such a great beginning, and we look forward to watching her continue to thrive and exceed expectations in the loving embrace of her new family.