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Welcome Martina


I have been VERY busy for the past two weeks, but for a GOOD reason. We have welcomed Martina, our new Italian exchange student into our home, family and hearts.
This was not a planned "adoption". When Federico left us in June, we had no plans for another teenager, but I believe things happen for a reason. Two weeks ago, I was included in a thread on Facebook, where a group of expats from Italy, and a couple Slow Travel friends were discussing something. I was "friended in", and learned that two students, Martina from Italy, and Marie from Norway had been placed in an abusive situation in Nebraska. They were removed and now had no host family. I spread the word to dozens of friends, neighbors, and families from Palm Desert High School, to see if I could find a family for Martina. She is from Lecce, in Puglia, (close to my mother's town, and very close to where Federico's paternal grandparents live) and I wanted to help her.
It was a few days of emails, texts, facebook messages and skype calls. The girls were very upset and still saw their BAD host mom every day as she worked at the high school they were attending. When I spoke with Martina, she melted my heart. By then, through the grapevine she had learned of my blog, and read all about Federico's year with us. When she said, "I just want to go to school and study and have host parents who will take care of me and love me", my heart melted. I hung up the i-Pad, looked at Brad, and we both said, "We HAVE to take her!" We decided we needed to speak to Federico first, as it was a "family decision", and we wanted him to know the circumstances that had changed our decision to have another exchange student. Of course he was fine with it, and actually encouraged us. He friended Martina on FB, told her about his great "Mom & Dad" in Palm Desert, his high school and how it was "the best year of his life". We were quickly processed in 3 days (new application, criminal check, house photos, interview, school, school district letter, etc.), and Martina flew out last Sunday (to Las Vegas where I was attending a sorority sister reunion weekend), and on Sunday afternoon, we drove back to Palm Desert to meet Dad and Luigi! It has been a whirlwind! This week, we moved not just mountains, but mountain RANGES to get her Norwegian friend out of Nebraska.She is on a plane TODAY to San Diego to live with her new host family, Casey, Sarah, Noah and Gabriel (MY wonderful GODCHILDREN!)


Martina speaks fluent Spanish, French, German English, and of course, Italian! She got all her classes at PDHS and starts Tuesday. She enjoys, cooking, baking, photography and SHOPPING! What a fun year we have in store!


Comments (27)


I have been checking and checking your blog, hoping that you were fine...well, this entry absolutely melts my heart and I am so happy for you! Things do happen for a reason and this was meant to be for all of you! I hope that the abusive situation will soon be a thing of the past for Martina, that was disappointing to read.

Barb Cabot:

God Bless you Palma and Brad and your Godson Casey. I am so moved by your decisions. May the year ahead be full of amazing blessings for each one of you.

Barb Cabot:

God Bless you Palma and Brad and Casey and Sarah. May the next year be filled with amazing blessings for all of you. I am in awe of your kindness.

I am so happy for you. Just bursting with enthusiasm for this turn of the wheel.


Congratulations to the 'new door' that just opened to you and Brad. Martina has a wonderful year ahead of her and the two of you have great adventures to share with her.
Complimente ...


Palma, you are fabulous! So happy you were able to do this for both of these girls and you now have a daughter to add to your growing family. I can't imagine the relief their parents must feel knowing they are now in much better situations. We can't wait to meet her! XOXO


Things DO happen for a reason, don't they? Hope the girls will have a fantastic year in the US, and the lousy start will fade to a dim memory.


What wonderful, up-lifting news. Enjoy every minute of your special time with Martina.

WOW, you and Brad take my breath away! What a fantastic story!

I know you, Brad and Martina will have a wonderful year together! She's a lucky girl to get you guys for "parents".


I have been wondering where you were; as you have done very few posts since Federico left!
I am so happy for ALL of you, both families!!!!!
This is all so exciting; and having a girl this time will be quite different.
Bless you for rescuing them both from Nebraska; and I certainly hope whichever organisation placed them with that family gets investigated thoroughly.
Another chapter; we all hope you will take us all along for the year!


I have been checking your blog and wondering what was happening. It isn't like you to leave it abandoned for so long. I was worried that you were really suffering from empty nest syndrome. Who would have thought that you were actually busy FILLING the nest and expanding your family.
It will be another wonderful year for you Brad and of course Martina!


Just wonderful news!!!!

What a great few weeks. You can move mountains, Palma!

Robert Santa Monica:

Well, what great news! For Martina, of course, and for generous, open-hearted you and Brad. But selfishly, it's great news for your blog-friends like me, who get the pleasure of sharing the fun year ahead with you two, Martina, and Luigi.

Yrs, Robert


Oh my oh my oh my! What great news! As a former exchange student and host family this makes me so happy! She won't replace Federico of course but rather be a new fun addition. And as a Norwegian I am thrilled that Casey and Sarah will host the Norwegian girl!

I love that Martina likes cooking, that will be so fin for the two of you.

Jill fletcher:

I missed your posts, so am glad there was a very happy reason.
I followed your wonderful year with Fredrico and what a lucky boy he was to land in your care and what a lovely boy he is.

Enjoy your unexpected daughter and I am sure she will feel blessed to be with you and Brad.

Jill ( from Australia and your 2011 Venice trip)


I wondered where you were. You and Brad are saints...these girls don't know just how lucky they are. Martina even looks like you. :)

Jan Wolf:

I'm so happy that this all came together for you and Brad (Luigi too!) Martina will have an unforgettable year in America because of the warm & loving family that has adopted her. Now we'll see how parenting a young & beautiful girl effects Brad's sleep for the next several months!! Can't wait to meet her

susan from virginia:

I'm so thrilled for you! And welcome to Martina--I hope you have a wonderful year!

Mary Hitt:

I learned of your original blog from Slow Travel and followed your year with Federico. I, too, have missed it.bwhat wonderful news, for all of you!

Joan Hilse:

Congrats and enjoy the ride!


Okay-you and Brad are amazing and I forgive you for never getting in touch! I am so happy for you.


So happy for Martina, and you & Brad too. I wish more people understood how wonderful it is to open your home & heart to exchange students.

Nina Sgriccia:

And she likes cooking and baking. Wow is she in for a good year. Congratulations to you and Brad for adopting another exchange student. Wishing you a fun year.
Nina in Michigan


Brilliant! I'm really happy for you all!


Nice. My parents had an Italian exchange student named Martina 20+ years ago, and we've remained close.

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