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!