what we received in the mail today was something i thought would never happen. i actually thought it was impossible. really. as in out of the realm of possibility.

eric came home as usual and grabbed the mail on his way in. i did not venture outside today due to Operation Clean-Out. 10 trash bags later, the kids' rooms are clean. and i am not a pack-rat. and i clean out regularly. where does all this stuff come from? ...........lest i digress, i hear eric say from the kitchen as i am fantastically beating josiah in mario olympics rowing (which i might add is a ridiculously hard workout for your arms)..."you will never believe what came in the mail!"


"a letter from lydia's sister."


"a letter from china. from lydia's sister!"


i abandoned my sculling endeavors and rushed to see, to my amazement, an amazingly well-written english letter mailed from china. "dear mr. and mrs. sanzone," it began, "i am jishan's sister." enclosed were four pictures - 3 of lydia and 1 of her and her mother and 2 sisters - and a birthday card, along with the letter that was in an envelope decorated for christmas.

upon further investigation i realized it was not her birth sister as i had initially thought. in the first moments i had imagined another adoptive family somehow finding out that their daughter and lydia were related. but the letter was from (at least i think) her foster sister and the pictures were of the foster mom and the 2 sisters.

i love that this young girl (12 years old) considers lydia her sister. it is a simple confirmation to what we imagined had been the case - that lydia was loved and cherished by a special family in china. a family that we will forever be grateful to and now i can TELL THEM! i can say THANK YOU for giving us the greatest gift you could ever have given us. this family took in a little girl who was terribly malnourished and underdeveloped and when they gave her to us she was a healthy girl who had obviously been doted on (remember the empress syndrome?) and loved beyond measure.

and it would be selfish of me to think only of our end of things. i can read love in the lines of the letter. there is a family a half a world away who poured themselves into a sweet cherub only to have to give her to a stranger who they knew would take her far away forever. i hope that i can bring them sweet joy through pictures and letters of how lydia is growing and thriving. i dream of the day we could meet them and have a family reunion.

from the beginning of our adoption journey we have prayed for lydia's china family - both her birth family and her foster family. specifically we have prayed that somehow and in some way they would be comforted by the Lord. i have no idea if this family knows our God, but i wouldn't doubt it given the answers to prayers we have seen thus far in lydia's life. and if they don't, what an opportunity we have just received.

i am stunned.

never in a million years did we ever think we would know who cared for our sweet princess. it never even crossed our minds. when we were in china we asked about the foster family but were not given any contact with them nor any information. we were thankful to just have a video and some pictures of the orphanage where she spent a portion of her time. but to now have the ability to communicate with the family who nurtured our little girl to health and loved her and saved her...i am speechless.

i do not have a photo scanner or i would post the pictures. i will have to go to my parent's house and scan them in so you can see. they are precious. what a gift we have been given. and lydia has been given. for her to be able to know details about her first 2 1/2 years is priceless.

i have emailed our agency just to make sure that there is nothing we should be cautioned about. assuming we get the green light, i will be sending a letter to china as soon as i can! with some pictures and a whole lot of thankfulness.

as my dear friend said, "the miracle continues..."

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Sanzone,

Hi! I am Jishan's Chinese sister. My name is Yingtong Fan. I am twelve years old. I am at a middle school. I live with my parents in China. They are from Guangzhou. My father is a driver. My mother is a cook in my family. I have a younger sister. Her name is Yingyu Fan. She is seven years old. Jishan is beautiful, clever and kind. So I love her very much. I want to make friend with you. Do you want to make friend with me?

Here is some photo of Jishan. And one of the photo is my family. The first girl on the left is my sister. The second person from the left is my mother. And Jishan is sit on my mother. The first girl on the right is me.

Mr. and Mrs. Sanzone please tell me of yourself and your family. And Christmas is coming. Merry Christmas to your family. I hope every body in your family both happy every.

Best wish
Fan Yingtong


Jill Johnson said...

Wow, that is SO amazing! What a gift! I have names of Mallory's foster parents and some pictures through an organization that sponsors the foster care, but they gave no address. I'm about to send another letter and pictures to the orphanage, but have no way of knowing if it will definitely make it to the fp's...I don't know that they will respond. What a blessing that you'll be able to correspond!

Kirsten said...

Amazing! So cool to see how God continues to work for your family.

Jen said...

Hi Ashleigh,

What an amazing gift! Isn't it such a relief to know our girls were so well loved before we could get to China to bring them home? When we received Chloe Grace in China she had a note in her bag with some pictures of her & the foster family and their email address. We've been emailing them since before we ever left China. I truly believe the love CG had from her "Mama Wang" has been key in our adjustment going as well as it has. I'm so glad you've received this special part of Lydia's past.

robin said...

What a wonderful letter--such a gift.

tara said...

That's amazing! Such a blessing from God!

Marie Foote said...

Praise God for unexpected heavenly treasures in earthly mailboxes!

Makes me more excited to drive over to Megan's birth family's home and drop off their belated Christmas presents ... =)

Andrea Nielsen said...

What a beautiful and amazing gift. I know that it will be forever cherished... and that the relationship will be such a gift to you and to that family. Blessings