Guest Post: Goodbye Girl

Today’s post is brought to you by Host Mom Francesca Donlan. You can follow along her journey hosting and read her last post here.


As I write this, Joanna is on a plane bound for Shanghai. What a year it has been!
I made Joanna a small photo album. When we flipped through the pages, we realized that every page represented a first experience: first trip to Disney, first Halloween, first skateboarding triumph, first time volunteering in a soup kitchen, first homecoming, etc.
It’s a privilege and a huge responsibility to help create those memories. My kids had to make space for someone else and that wasn’t always easy. But my hope is that they learned your heart can make room for many.
As I sat in the airport with Joanna, I looked at this brave young girl, who came to us at 15 and is headed back to China at 16 (with three fully stuffed suitcases), an inch taller, with longer hair and her cropped jeans and T-shirt, I was overwhelmed.


As I began to tell her how proud I was of her and how we will miss her, I burst into tears. I am not a goodbye crier (I like to do that alone in my car) so the tears surprised me. But it’s a powerful thing raising a child who is not your own. But we did it: the small, brave Chinese teenager and the Florida family.
And we are glad we did.