Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Brinley's Room

We finally took some pictures of Brinley's room. I decided not to go with the Raggedy Ann & Andy theme. Instead, it is "The Princess & The Frog"!

I found this cute, cute print of an Asian princess holding a frog prince and I just knew that this would be the theme for Brinley's new room. I got the print on eBay so if any of you other adoptin' mamas are looking for something like this, just let me know and I will tell you who the seller was.

***Wow! Everyone loves this print! Since we are leaving for China soon, I'll just post a link to the eBay seller here. They have a lot of really cute prints and the shipping was very quick!
BTW, Target has the cutest nightlight that matches this print! It is the frog prince. You'll find it over in the section where the bedding is and it is one of those that turns on and off by itself. You can buy it at , too. ***

It says it's a Fairy PRINCESS but it looks like a prince to me!

This chiffarobe was Marty's grandmother's. It was out in a storage shed when we moved here and it was in really bad shape so he took it up to his shop and refinishd it for Brinley's room. I love it! He did a wonderful job on it!
The Raggedy Ann sitting so quietly on top of the chiffarobe was made for Brinley by my dear friend Rachelle. We will always treasure this sweet doll! (Thank you again, Auntie Rachelle!)

We still have more work to do in here but atleast we've managed to get this much of it finished! We've ordered some things for the room that haven't come in yet.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Brice's New Room

Just have to take a minute to let Brice show off his new room. The room Brinley will be in was his and he moved into Josh's old room when Josh moved to NC to attend college for the next 3 years.



AFTER!!! Marty built the bunkbeds and the shelf!

Eagle Print

Motorcycle Poster


Brice is VERY proud of his new room!

We are still working on Keith's! It is going to be really cool, too!

Monday, November 28, 2005


Not much longer until we leave!

As far as we know, we'll be able to email daily. If not, we will contact Kristen and Josh and they will post to let everyone know that we are doing okay. We will be 13 hours ahead of you.

We will miss all of you very much and Lord willing (and not too much snow in Beijing or Newark, NJ on our return) we will see you at church on Christmas Day with our newest family member Brinley Elizabeth!

Our schedule:
12/9-12/10: Leave Columbia 7:05am, fly to Newark, NJ then on to Beijing and end in NanNing. Staying at Majestic Hotel, Nanning
12/11: Tour Green Mountain Park and attend Lunch Theatre
12/12: ***WE GET BRINLEY!!!!!***
12/13: Civil Affairs Appt. Apply for Brinley's Chinese Passport
12/14: Free Day (Christmas Shopping!)
12/15: Travel from NanNing to GuiLin by train...5 hour ride through the
countryside. Staying at the Bravo Hotel.
12/16: Visit Brinley's orphanage in the afternoon.
12/17: Tour of Seven Star Park then fly from GuiLin to Guangzhou (formerly known as Canton) Staying at the White Swan Hotel on Shaiman Island.
12/18: Pearl River Dinner Cruise with other families adopting through our agency
12/19: Brinley's Medical Exam
12/20: Free Day! (More Christmas Shopping!)
12/21: U.S. Consulate Appointment for Brinley at 9am
12/22: Receive Brinley's travel Visa
12/23: Coming home!!! Arrive 9:20pm in Columbia!
Continental Airlines Flight 3227

Please remember us in your prayers as we travel and bring our daughter into our family. Please pray for Brinley, that she will know in her little heart that we are her mommy and daddy and that her transition will go as easily as possible.

Much love to all of you!
Sharon & Marty

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Baby Shower!

Donna Lott, Lola and some of the women in our church had a very special baby shower for us on November 27. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful, caring friends!

(I didn't know Donna could yell so loud until I called her and told her we had our TA! :) Donna is our pastor's wife and she has been such a wonderful friend and support through these months of adoption! She is also my Christian concert buddy! A couple of weeks ago we went to see Casting Crowns with our daughters. It was great!)

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our families today! My mom, Aunt Mae, Uncle Bill and cousin Belinda and my mother-in-law and father-in-law were all here at our house for dinner!
My mom did most of the cooking and it was YUMMY!!! Aunt Mae's potatoe salad is always THE BEST and I ate waaaay too much! LOL My mother-in-law Mae makes such a wonderful turkey! We just loved it all!
We also finished Brinley's room this evening! I can't believe it's ready for her. The crib looks so pretty!
We have so very much to be thankful for this year......every day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


Today at 6:11pm we received the call!!!!
We are going to China for Brinley!!!!

Praise God!!!! Our baby won't be waiting much longer!!!!!

We are leaving December 9!

Coming home December 23!!!

HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

9th Week Of Waiting

Today we have entered our 9th week since our dossier was logged-in in China. So far, I am keeping it together pretty well but seeing the latest pictures of Brinley just makes me even more eager to make this journey to bring her home and fill her life with love.

We still don't know if we will have her here with us for Christmas. We are still hoping and praying that we will. Somehow, it just won't seem right if our baby isn't here with us to celebrate this holy day.

We are going to paint Brice's room this week. Marty is planning on painting the ceiling tonight. Hopefully, we'll get more of it finished up and we can move him in there next week and then we'll be able to get started on Brinley's room. I think we have everything we need for her room except the paint and a new ceiling fan. I can't wait for everyone to see it! It is going to be so cute!!!

Not much longer, Brinley! We'll be there soon! Mommy and Daddy love you very much!!!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Why China? Why Brinley?

Our Adoption Story
November 05, 2005

So many people have asked us, "Why are you adopting from China?" The simple answer is, "Because that is where our daughter is."
To some, this may be enough of a response but to others, you may want to know our deep and true feelings so I would like to tell you so that maybe you can understand our hearts a little better.
One day I was watching Oprah. This isn't something I do everyday but for some reason, on this particular day, I was watching. They were discussing previous shows which had had an impact on people's lives. They talked about a video from National Geographic Explorer which was hosted by Lisa Ling, "The Lost Girls of China". There was a lady on the show who had seen this episode of Oprah and had decided to adopt a little girl from China. She later found out that the child she adopted, was featured on the show she'd watched.
I was amazed that these people loved these children so much that they'd never even met before. Surely, I could not love a child I'd only had a photo of for a few months. Surely, these must just be women who were desperate for children. My, oh wrong could I be???
These children stayed on my mind. I could not stop thinking about them. All of these little girls in China. Millions of them. No families. Alone except for the other children with them and their caregivers.
I prayed, "Lord, why do I continuously think about these children?" We have four kids....two of them will be grown and on their own soon. Lord, are we supposed to adopt a child from China? Is that why they are a constant presence in my mind?"
As a child, I'd always thought of other children in orphanages and how sad they must be with no mom or dad or anyone to call family.
I decided to check into exactly what adopting from China involved. I got on the internet and I started reading. I read everything I could find. "Lord, is this what we are supposed to do?"
I talked to Marty about it after a few weeks of reading about it. He must have thought I'd lost my mind. All he could say was, "No, not now. We have enough to deal with. We don't need another child. It's just not in our budget." I asked him to pray about it and he said he would.
I continued to read about China adoptions. I joined an online group for people who were adopting from China or were thinking about it. Wow! Lots of people just like me.......driven by a mysterious hand to learn about these children.
I joined another group I'd heard wonderful things about. A group of people who were adopting through Children's House International or were interested in adopting. In all of my life, I'd never met such a wonderful group of people. Each and every one so caring and compassionate that it almost took my breath away. I read stories of people traveling to China to bring their children home......and all of these children were special. They were called "Special Needs" children or "Waiting" children. Some had cleft lip and palate, some had birthmarks, some had limb differences, some were born with heart problems, hepatitis B....all of them were 'special'.
Cute kids! Adorable little girls with piggy tails and boys with irresistible grins.....but obviously if this was for us, we'd want a 'healthy' girl.....AYAP (as young as possible). "Lord, am I on the right track?"
I continued talking to Marty and he continued to say "no....not now". I asked him every time to please pray about it and he assured me that he would.
Children's House International received a new list of 'special' children in January, 2005. As I looked at all of these beautiful children, my heart just melted when I saw the little one listed as "Leila". What a gorgeous child!!! She was born August 15, 2003. Hmmm.....not AYAP....but just to look at her, I knew I could love this baby! She had a birthmark above her left eye. This made her a "special needs" child in the eyes of the folks in charge of adoptions from China. I decided to talk to Marty about her. Nope. He wouldn't budge. Not an inch. I knew then that she wasn't the one for us.......and I also knew that I could fall in love with a child in a photograph. A wonderful person will soon be bringing the beautiful Leila home to be her daughter. Her name is Heather and she and I have become great email buddies through our love of Leila. Heather and I even share the same birthday. God is good.
I continued to pray that God would show me the path to take. "Lord, if I am just totally off base, please give me a sign." No signs that I could find ever showed up.
Months went by and I continued to chat with my friends in the internet groups about all of these children. I cheered as anyone found their child, finished their paperwork and finally brought their child home! "Lord, is this what I'm supposed to do? Am I just to be a support for these wonderful folks?".
As the months went by, I learned more and more about "special needs". Some of them seemed so scary! How could we handle something like this? Nope. I don't think I could do it. Obviously, these other parents have something I just don't have.
On April 20, 2005 Children's House got their newest list of children. List #11. I had requested from Stefani, their director of China adoptions that we be able to preview the children before the list was made public. Just maybe our child is there. All of them are special needs but maybe there will be something really simple that we can handle.
I sat alone in front of my computer and opened each file as soon as they were available. Every single child was adorable! Cute beyond belief!!! Hmmmmm....was our child there? The one listed as Hilari is mighty cute and she is listed with some orthopedic problems. Soooooo cute!!! I took a leap of faith and I called Stefani about her. Marty is out of town. Stefani puts Hilari's file "on hold" until I can talk to Marty about her.
I showed Marty her picture when he came home. He agreed that she was very cute and that her 'special need' did seem very manageable.......but "no.....not now." I was crushed. I just knew that Hilari was meant to be ours. Why couldn't Marty see it??? It broke my heart to let Stefani know that Hilari was not meant to be ours. My heart shattered when I saw that her file was no longer 'on hold'. It wasn't long before another family came forward and requested that Hilari be their daughter. I now knew that Marty was right. She wasn't our daughter.
I continued to pray about adoption. I begged the Lord to take the desire from me if it was not meant to be or if it was to be then please help Marty to have a change of heart.
One day Marty and I were talking about adoption......again. We talked about it frequently and he was learning more and more about it and showing genuine interest in it. He said, "If you can earn the first $1500 to get the adoption started, I'll know that it's a sign and we will adopt.....maybe in six months we'll look into it." I was ecstatic!!! Six months? That would be around October.......MY BIRTHDAY!!! What a gift it would be to find our child on one of these lists. Contentedly, I settled in for the wait till October and went about the task of earning the $1500 by selling comforters on eBay. Not only did I make that much, I made more. I was able to buy the groceries and the day to day needs of our children. Life was good! God was providing the way for us to look into adoption in October. We had our sign.
On June 5, 2005 I was sitting in church listening to our pastor's sermon. Suddenly a child from the Children's House International's list popped into my mind. Brynli.....she's cute! Why hasn't anyone decided to adopt her yet? I could love this child. (WHAT???? Who said that???? We're waiting till October. That's just the way it is!)
Brynli was stuck in my mind like glue. She was there and she wouldn't go away.
On June 8 Brynli was the "spotlight" child on the Children's House's internet group. She was placed there in the hopes that someone would find her and adopt her.
This is a portion of the post that was made by Stefani that day at 4:03pm.
"Okay, lets start our spotlight sessions with our little Brynli. She wasborn with what appears to be a degree III cleft lip and palate. The liphas been repaired but the palate has not. She is in the Guilin SWI inGuangxi province. She is now 22 months old. I'm going to paste her biohere again but anybody who feels like they can contributeinformation/advice on the need, her age, her SWI, etc. is certainly welcome to step in and share. Please others who have questions are alsowelcome to ask them too. We are very excited to start spotlighting andare happy to have Brynli kick off our care and share chat! Her pictures can be viewed at and the password XXXXX.She seems like such a smiler! Her file is not currently being reviewed."
This was followed by her official biography info from China.
I was the first one to reply at 4:36pm.
"Doesn't she just have a smile that will melt your heart??? We werein church Sunday and her name and her little face all of a suddenpopped into my thoughts. I hope her family will find her soooon! I would love to know more about cleft lip and palate. EverythingI've read is so technical. I want to know about caring for thepalate and things like that. I'm sure others must be curious also.I'm so glad you are doing this, Stefani! I think it will educate a lot of us!Sharon"
All of this time my heart was pounding and all I could think was "Lord, is this our child?? Why is she ever-present in my mind?"
At 4:45pm I posted again.
"I was just wondering if we are allowed to know her Chinese name?Sharon"
Huh? Why did I ask that? What difference does that make? By this time I was in tears and I didn't know what to do. I went to our bedroom and I shut the door and I started praying. "Lord, if this is our child, how will I know? Lord, you know what is in my heart and Marty's heart. If this is our child then I need a sign that will absolutely slap me in the that I just can't deny."
I dried my tears and went back to the computer to see what anyone else might have said about Brynli.
At 4:52pm Stefani had replied,
"I can't give all of her name but I will give you part. It is YaYa."
I nearly fell over. My kids call me "YaYa"!
I sent the following email to Stefani:
"ARE YOU SERIOUS???????????? She has been on my mind lately. TodayI even prayed that if I was supposed to look into her info thatthere would be a sign that would absolutely slap me in the face. My kids call me 'YAYA'.When her name and face popped into my thoughts at church Iimmediately thought. I could love her!I am scared to even think about it. Our finances have turned aroundso much in the past two months that it is unreal. God has blessed us so much. I am going to talk to Marty about her tonight. I'll getthe dinosaur fax machine ready to use tomorrow so that you can faxher info to us.PRAY,PRAY, PRAY!!!!Sharon"
Stefani responded:
"Well, patpatpatpatpatpatpat, do you hear what sounds like face slappinghere? Hmmmmm, I just may! Sounds like maybe God is trying to tell yousomething because we had chosen to put Tate as the first spotlight child and at the last minute changed it to Brynli. God may be trying to tellyou something about this dear little YaYa.Pray, pray, pray is right on. I'm hoping I have to use that dinosaurfax again."
Marty came home just after this. When he walked in, he could see that I'd been crying. I told him what had happened. He said, "Well, what do you want to do?". I didn't know what to do and I just shrugged as the tears rolled down my face. Marty hugged me and said, "Have her information faxed to my office and we'll look at it."
I almost jumped up and down!!!!!
I emailed Stefani and gave her Marty's fax number. She responded with the following email:
"Could you two be part of a very special YaYa sisterhood? Looks like youhave been getting many little "road signs" along the way pointing to youthat maybe you should look a little differently at where you thought you should be going. Each program is wonderful and each child needs parentsso no matter which direction you go, its a good thing. But I amconfident little Miss YaYa would trail a lot of happiness home with her.You can see it in her eyes and in her smile. There has always beensomething twinkly about this little babe. I would love to meet her andgive her a big old squeeze. I'm going to send the fax tonight so it isthere when Marty goes into work. Not sleeping is a good thing. It will give you lots of time to think about the YaYa who will is just gettingup and starting her day now."
The following morning June 9 I sent this email to Stefani:
"Yes, I think she just may be our special girl! We have to take the boys to the eye doctor today and we will run by Marty's office to pick up the fax while we are in Columbia.
I didn't sleep very much last night and I did have a lot of time to think. Lots of good thoughts! :)
When I walked into our bedroom this morning after my shower, I found Marty looking at the book "Cool Names For Babies". LOL I think Daddy is getting more and more interested. :)
Time to get these boys ready! I will be in touch soooooon!!! Hopefully by this evening. If we decide that we want to bring her home, what is the next step? (If? Yeah, right! This is our girl!!! I just want to give Marty a chance to read over the 'official' file.)
Thank you so very much to you and Ginger! You were both so right about it all falling into place when the time is right. :)"
Stefani emailed back. This is a portion of that email:
"The next step is the very biggest. It is that you have seen yourdaughter's face in Brynli's eyes and soul and that you want to be theones that will feel the joy that YaYa has brought with her into the world. It is to decide that you will move heaven and earth to give herwhat every child should have the right to, to a family of their own.
Ginger and I will be leaving early tomorrow morning for the CHI campoutso if you decide tonight and let me know early tomorrow and I can sendyour packet out. If not we'll be back on Monday."
I responded with:
"Wonderful!!! You might as well get that packet ready because I'm sure I will be emailing you this evening to tell you that WE WANT YAYA!! :)
Our address is:
Marty & Sharon Millender
I asked Marty if he found a name he liked in the book and he said, "Nah, I like the one she came with." ROFL Men! :)
I am on CLOUD NINE!!! We are off to pick up the fax!!!
Wow!!! Was the world this bright yesterday?????? Did every song on the radio have so much meaning????'s like being in love for the first time! :)"
Stefani's responding email:
"This is exactly the JOY I'm talking about. And no, it wasn't as brightyesterday because part of you was missing. When you find it you feel it.You could always names her Maya for My Ya."
That same day we took Brice and Keith to the eye doctor and we read over the fax while we ate lunch at Top China Buffet in Columbia. I knew in my heart that this was our girl.....and Marty was beginning to feel it, too.
I called Stefani that evening and gave her our big news "WE WANT YAYA!!!"
The following announcement was made to the Children's House International's group just a little while later:
"My, if we just knew how well spotlighting would work, we would havestarted this long ago! Brynli has her family! Her own, true blue,forever family. But this journey started long ago but many things had to fall into place for eyes to see clearly the face of their daughter.We have been aware of their struggles. It has been amazing to watch.We are SO HAPPY for this twinkler who I can just see carrying a pail and a bucket along the beachy shores, or running in fields of flowers. Toobad her family couldn't have joined us this year in Atlanta but we'll besure to want to see them next year. Our first Spotlight Child had the light directed right on her sweet spirit and what a treat for all of usto have a chance to feel it and watch it work its magic as her familyclearly saw her. We so delightedly invite her family to step forwardand I am certain when they announce shouts of JOY will be heard fromevery keyboard. You all are really going to like this unveiling."
At 10:07pm on June 9 I had the pleasure of announcing that WE are Brinley's family!!!
This is a portion of the post I made to all of my wonderful friends in the Children's House International group:
"Hello everyone from the Millender family! We are just tickled pink tolet all of you know that we are Brynli's forever family and we can notwait to make our way to China to bring her home!!! I have been a member of this board for several months and many of you know that Ihad a very reluctant husband. Well, time does change things and now weare going to be bringing this little sweet pea home!Brynli is going to be ours to love forever and we are all so excited!!!She will be living in a small town in the midlands of South Carolina.She'll have 3 older brothers. Josh is 20 and leaving for college inFlorida this fall. Keith is 11 and Brice is 7. Her big sister Kristenis 18 and she will be attending a local college and living at home. (Sissy wants to go shopping tomorrow for new clothes for Brynli! LOL)We have a big, happy family (most of the time! LOL). Our house is onthe edge of a big field so she will have plenty of room to run andplay. The boys have a huge tree house but I'm sure daddy will be building her her own special play house soon! We have a tire swing anda see-saw out under the trees behind the house. It is 10pm here andthe boys are out in the pool right now with their dad. Our petsinclude a rabbit, 4 dogs, a cat who thinks he owns us, a turtle and a cockateil.For a long time I have wanted to name the child we adopt "Julianna".However, I think I have been outvoted here in our home! Everyoneloves the name Brynli. So, we are thinking that her name will be Brinley Elizabeth WeiYa. We changed the spelling because it looksbetter with our last name.So, now the mystery has been solved and no one guessed! :)Let's go to China!!!!!!!!Sharondh Marty ds Josh (20)dd Kristen (aka: Lola 18)ds Keith (11)ds Brice (7)dd Brinley!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) Doesn't that look great??????????"
This is the story of how our adoption journey began. It wasn't a desire to have a child together. It wasn't because it is "trendy". It wasn't because of an "empty nest".
It's because it is what we are supposed to do. It's because our daughter is in China and her name is YaYa.
~Sharon Millender
*Stefani Ellison's quotes have been used with her very gracious permission.

Friday, November 04, 2005


What a wonderful surprise to receive these photos from another parent who was in Guilin last week when she adopted her daughter!

Look, y'all!!!! No pout on the princess this day! She is lovin' that lollipop!

Split pants and a diaper! You know she'll love these photos someday!!

Brinley's friend Gracie is sitting in the lady's lap. You can see Brinley peeking around from behind the lady.

Brinley is 27 months old today. We're still praying for a Christmas miracle that we'll have her home soon!

P.S. Yes, we found out yesterday that the little girl in lavendar is not Brinley. We thought she looked a bit smaller than what we were expecting and her hair seemed to have grown really fast since we received the last photos. Fortunately, we did find out who the little cutie in lavendar will be coming home to and they have the pictures to share with their friends and family now. :)