In 1988 some friends of ours hosted Thilo, an exchange student from Germany. He and our daughter, Trisha, became good friends and he spent a lot of time at our house during his time in the U.S. After Thilo went back to Germany, his coordinator contacted us to ask if we'd consider hosting a student for the next school year. We thought it over for a few weeks, talked it over with our kids, then told her we'd give it a try. Nancy brought over a stack of applications soon after and something about this Dutch girls application made me feel that she'd be the right one.
We met Danielle Eliza Hubertina Soons (Soony) in August, 1989 at the airport and as she walked off that plane, she walked into our lives and has stayed. She lived through the experience of living with a strange family in a foreign land as she's lived her life so far,,by viewing it as a new adventure.
Aug., 1989. Her first taste of southern fried catfish, but not her last!
Visiting the cotton fields with Elena,(who lived with friends of ours and became friends with Soony) and Vincente, another Arkansas exchange student.
With Trish, Jami, and Bubbie during her stay from Aug. 1989 to May 1990.
With Jami and Bubbie when she visited us in 1992.
1995 visit to Monschou, Germany when James and I visited her in the Netherlands
In 1997 she came to meet Zachary.
She came to visit again in March, 2000 as a surprise for me. I had no idea she was coming until she walked in the door one evening. I promised her during that visit that the next time I visited her, it would be to attend her wedding.
And I did.
I never imagined I could come to love a child, who I had not given birth to, as my own. All you have to do is open your heart and welcome her into your family.