• Silver Linings

    Date: 2020.10.10 | Category: Cassie, Faith, Family Life | Response: 0

    Life is hard.  Sometimes it doesn’t go the way you expected.  Sometimes it makes no sense and you struggle to understand they “whys”, especially when you’ve waited years and years to get pregnant and when you finally do, the delivery isn’t what you expected, the recovery isn’t what you expected and then, to top it all off, you have to spend days in the hospital after the baby is born.

    Cassie joked over and over again that she had no birth plan except to have Cillian be here with her.  Everything else she would take as it came.  I am so thankful that has been her feelings all along because even though this was hard she knew what was important in the end.

    I’d be the first to admit that I don’t understand why life is so unfair sometimes. Oh, I know the bible verses…this life will bring you trials, there will be tests, etc.  There are many stories in the Bible that show life is hard, life is unfair and it doesn’t always go the way we want, but in the end lessons are learned and God works the bad for good.  I get it.  I understand it, but it doesn’t mean I like it.

    It was easier for me to tell Satan “Not today!” when we were in the middle of an adoption.  It is a well known fact in the adoption world that everything breaks down right in the middle of the hard of raising funds, doing paperwork and waiting.  I reminded myself over and over again during our adoptions to not let Satan steal my joy. Something good would happen and then something would break.  I would yell, “You can not steal my joy!”   I think it’s easier to do that when there is something you are working towards, when you can see the good that is happening but it’s harder when you can’t see the purpose.

    If I admit it, most of my growth as a Christian has come during really hard times NOT when life was smooth and I was just coasting. During the easy times you forget to thank God and you forget that you even really need him. You just go about your life feeling like you’ve got it mostly together. Do you know anyone who hasn’t been through some trial? Does anyone leave this earth unscathed? Death, destruction, rape, natural disaster, cancer. Is there any adult who hasn’t gone through something? I think we’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t gone through the hard, but for some reason we like to think we are the only ones.

    So during this time with Cassie, I reminded her not to let Satan steal her joy.   She has waited so long to be a mother.  She has always known she wanted to be a mother.  She will make a great mother.  Yes, there were roadblocks.  Yes, there have been complications.  Yes, there have been troubles and tests, but to try and remember what an amazing miracle this little guy is.  When you are sad and in pain, it is hard to be joyful.  I get that.  Truly I do.  You are allowed to cry out.  You are allowed to weep.  You just shouldn’t let all the bad overshadow the true joy and blessing that you have just been given.   I am so thankful she knew that.  I am so thankful that she understands these truths.

    As I was saying all of this to her, it made me stop to look for the silver linings.  There’s always some lesson to be learned in the midst of the hard.  Nothing is all bad. Sometimes it takes years to see some of the good that came out of the bad, but there is always something to be learned.

    There were a couple silver linings through Cassie’s delivery and recovery.   The first being that I figured out how to let Jasmine feed a baby. I don’t know why I didn’t think about this before.  As we were doing our usual morning routine with Jasmine, I realized I could lay him down in Jasmine’s bed next to her on her pillow wedges, I could pull her arm over her side and she had enough support to feed him a bottle.  It worked because his head was up on the wedge and Jasmine was supported.

    Seeing Jasmine in her wheelchair is deceptive. She looks so strong and able sitting there, but that is the illusion of her spinal fusion. The spinal fusion rod in her back keeps her sitting up tall and straight, but Jasmine has no muscle control. If you pick up her arm and let go, it flops to her side. If you were to push her head back, she isn’t able to lift it back up. She isn’t able to move her legs.  She has very limited motion and is very weak so holding a baby on her lap and feeding the baby is impossible without help from others, BUT put the baby beside her on the bed and she is able to hold the bottle and look the baby directly in the eyes. It was a beautiful thing to watch.   She was just so happy.  There was pure joy on her face as she fed him.

    The second silver lining was for the rest of the kids.  They have asked and begged for a baby in our house.  Dan and I have explained that I am too old to get pregnant.  That no one is going to let us adopt a baby.   The kids have believed all along that some where there is a baby that is ill and that that baby belonged here with us.  I told them if God wants that to happen, it will happen, but I am not sure it is likely.  I have assured them that we are leaving it in God’s hands.

    One day while she was holding Cillian Maisey asked me again, “Why can’t you have a baby mama?”   I reminded her that I was old and that I just couldn’t have another baby.  When you are 55 years old, you can’t just have a baby because you want to have a baby.   Maisey’s response?  “Haven’t you read the Bible?” and later when we were talking about it again Maisey reminded me,  “God gives babies to old women when they believe.”

    Oh boy!  I may be in trouble.  Me of little faith.   hahaha

    It has been a blessing for the kids to get to hold Cillian for an extended amount of time.  They’ve fed him.  They’ve held him.  They’ve sang to him.  They adore him.   It has  been a really good thing for them to have him here.

    The other good thing that has come out of it is the hard discussions.  The “What did I do wrong to be left?” question has been a big one.   I can say over and over to them that someone loved them and tried their best and they, themselves, did nothing wrong but until you can see how special a baby is and understand that babies deserve nothing but love, you can’t understand that you, as a baby, did nothing wrong.  You have no blame.  You didn’t do anything to have caused what happened.

    I will be the first to admit that I was judgmental of mothers who left their children before I understood the “whys”.   It’s easy to sit in our nice houses and say, “I’d never do that!”  It’s easy when you have health insurance.  It’s easy to say that when you have money and support.  It’s easy to say that before you understand true poverty.  It’s easy to say that before you understand what it takes to get surgery for a child in many other countries.

    Now that I know.  I am no longer judgmental.  I have never had to make that very hard decision to give my child up in hopes that they may have surgery.  I’ve never had to leave my child alone to go find food.  I’ve never had to have my child forego school to dig through garbage so that we would have enough to eat.  Life is truly unimaginable for way too many. 

    One of the other things that has come out of having Cillian here for an extended period of time is the flashbacks that our older girls have had.  (This is being told with Jasmine’s permission.)  Jasmine had a flashback of her grandmother sitting in front of some “fortune teller” type person who told her grandmother over and over again that what she was about to do was the right thing.  This person told Jasmine’s grandmother that Jasmine would go on to be happy.  She said Jasmine would have a happy life.  Jasmine has been so angry over being left at an orphanage.  Her anger towards her grandma has clouded her healing here in our family.  See Jasmine’s grandma walked 8 year old Jasmine up the orphanage steps and left Jasmine there with the promise that she would be back for Jasmine.  I have told Jasmine over and over again that it doesn’t mean that her grandma didn’t care.  I’ve explained to Jasmine that she doesn’t understand the pressure or the issues for the disabled or the lack of understanding or proper medical care without the funds to do it.  

    But for Jasmine it is hard.  She looks at her siblings that were about the same age as her when she was left and she doesn’t understand how anyone can do it.   But what do you do when your child is getting worse and worse and you can do nothing.  You’ve tried herbal remedies.  You’ve taken the child to doctors who say it’s all in your child’s head.  You’ve even gone so far as to take a hot poker and burn your child’s leg to “wake up” the muscles as the doctor asked you to do?  How desperate do you need to be to do that?   What do you do to get your child the medical care they so desperately need?   What would you do?  How far would you go to ensure your child had care?

    Yes, it was horrible that Cassie went through what she did.  Believe me when I say she was in horrible pain.  To top it all off they couldn’t find the source for a couple days, but in the midst of the sad, there was some good.   There was healing at the Ellsbury house in all sorts of ways.

    We are praising God for His good and perfect timing.  We are praising God for the time we got to spend with one of the chillest, sweetest babies I’ve ever seen.  We are praising God for Cassie’s healing and for the absolute gift and blessing that Cillian is.   We are praising God who can make GOOD come out of the bad every single time!

  • Jasmine’s Plea

    Date: 2020.07.28 | Category: Adoption, Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Jasmine's Blog, Jasmine's Dream, Making a difference, Orphan Care | Response: 0

    About a year ago, Jasmine and I had a conversation about orphanages. We discussed the orphanage where Jasmine lived, the other orphanages that her brothers and sisters had lived in, and other orphanages in other countries around the world. This conversation had started because I showed Jasmine a picture of a 14 year old girl in an Ukranian orphanage.

    This little girl would age out in September of 2020. Aging out means you are no longer able to be adopted. Jasmine was so sad about this little girl. We talked about how little this girl was, how she had laid in a crib for her whole life, and how we hoped that she would someday get a family.

    Many months later Jasmine came to me with a proposal. She had written a letter and in it she said, “I feel really sad for that little girl because I have so much love in my life sometimes I don’t even think about it so I want to share my love with her because I got so lucky to get adopted right before I aged out.”

    Jasmine understands almost not getting a family. In China you age out at the age of 14. We adopted Jasmine 3 weeks before she turned 14. She remembers feeling lost and hopeless and like she might never get a family.

    Jasmine went on to say, “I never going to get married. I can’t do lots of things but I could love her mama. I could sit by her bedside. I could read to her. I could hold her hand. We could watch t.v. together. She would have love. I can share my room with her. Stay by her side. Love her. Help her. Care about her. Feed her. And we even have the perfect wheelchair for her. She stuck in that orphanage for a long time and nobody care about her. She live a horrible life right now. She need love just like me. She really need a family to love her. I want to be her sister so she not be alone any more.”

    We talked more about how we just couldn’t adopt right now. How with the coronavirus and all that was happening, trying to get paperwork done was almost impossible, let alone trying to travel. Immigration offices were closed. Clearances couldn’t be gotten. I woke up in the middle of the night with my heart racing. I was crushed. I was heartbroken. This little girl deserved the love of a family but how. How could it happen? I cried and cried and cried.

    Jasmine finished her letter with the words, “I can see myself by her side. Read to her. Eat with her. Play outside with her because she deserve to have those things. She deserves to have fun. She deserves to be a child. She deserves to have a family. She deserves love. She is worthy of all these things. How can we help her mama?”

    After all that Jasmine had been through, after all the troubles over the past few years, after the tears and rages and frustration, this letter was a huge step forward for Jasmine’s healing and I was heartbroken that I couldn’t make it happen. It was the end of April and this little girl was going to age out in September.

    Jasmine and I would pray and cry over the next couple months. We hated that the weeks were passing by so quickly. We asked if anyone else had chosen her but everyone said that she didn’t have a family.

    Then the most amazing thing happened, we received notice that this little girl had been chosen by a family that was already traveling. She had been chosen with only weeks to spare. She is almost 16 and barely weighs 20 pounds. It is unimaginable.

    Jasmine and I have cried many, many tears over this little girl and our not being able to do more. Our family has donated to the family Reece’s Rainbow account but Jasmine wants to do something by herself. She wants to feel a part of this girl getting home.

    https://reecesrainbow.org/129835/sponsorbrown-5

    If you feel led to donate, you can donate directly to the link listed above. Your donation is tax deductible. Jasmine is also going to have a Christmas in July sale and sell her oragami jars and ornaments that she has made and was hoping to sell this fall. The family needs $700 more to be fully funded. Please check out Jasmine’s Family Dream Facebook page tomorrow to see what Jasmine has to sell. If you donate directly to the Reece’s rainbow site, please comment here and let Jasmine know that her words have moved you to do something. Jasmine would appreciate it so much!

    Please keep Amelia and the Brown family in your prayers. Amelia is very ill. She needs prayers to travel home quickly. They need prayers that they can wave the 30 day wait and that the judge recovers from his illness quickly so he can rule on her adoption. Amelia has a long road ahead of her for healing, but she has a future with a large, loving family. I can’t wait to see a smile on her face. I am so thankful for answered prayers. I truly wish I could be her mama, but the next best thing is watching another family love her and cherish her just like she deserves. I am so thankful she is not going to age out. I am so thankful another family felt led to bring her home.

  • Mother’s Day

    Date: 2020.05.10 | Category: Adoption, Love Without Boundaries | Response: 0

    There’s so much in life that we take for granted.

    Clean drinking water.

    A warm home to live in.

    Food – readily available.

    Medical care.

    We complain. We judge. We bitch about the most trivial of things.

    Today I am…

    I don’t even know the word for it.

    Sad. Frustrated. Angered. Overwhelmed. Disillusioned. Brokenhearted.

    I sit here on Mother’s Day with a house filled with children that I did not give birth to. I get the blessing of their laughter as they play in the backyard. I get the blessing of their warm hugs, sweet kisses, and words of “I love you” every day. I get those things and someone else does not. Someone else is missing out on some of the most beautiful souls out there.

    I pray for the hearts of the mothers out there who did what they believed to be the best for their child. Mothers who stole away in the dark of night to sit their child outside the gates of an orphanage or in a busy park or on the side of the road just so their child could have a chance.

    Before I went to China, I judged those mothers. I was flabbergasted that someone would leave their child outside the walls of an orphanage. I judged because I didn’t understand. I had no clue what it meant to try and get surgery for your child when you have no money to pay upfront because you have no healthcare. I had no clue how hard some of these women fight to hold onto their children. What do you do with no money, in a culture that does not necessarily understand what it means to be born with special needs?

    It’s easy to sit in judgment when we have no clue. It’s easy to judge and say we would do better but would we? Would we really do better? We live in a country with 400,000 foster kids who need a family. Have you even given it a thought? What have you said? I would but…

    (insert your words here)

    I know because I said them too. My families too big. Trauma is too hard. Someone else will do it. I don’t believe that God is calling me to do foster care.

    That is my favorite. If you are a Christian, how about we just assume that God DOES want us to do something. No, I don’t believe everyone can or should foster but you can support foster care. You can encourage the families that do foster care cause it’s a hard job. It can be beautiful and fulfilling but sometimes it can be hard to care for someone who has been through loss and trauma.

    If you are a church who has families fostering, support them, encourage them, lift them up in prayer. If you are a church that has no one fostering, as yourself why. I believe we are to be the hands and feet of Christ. Why is no one adopting? Why is no one fostering? Why is no one supporting mothers in need?

    If we believe in keeping families together, we need to step up and be the helping hand they need.

    We need to pay for surgeries so children can stay with their families. I love Love Without Boundaries unity fund for just that reason. When a family searches and searches for help and finds LWB, and hundreds of people come together giving a little and pays for that surgery, well…it’s just about the most beautiful thing ever. Children healed and families intact. What could be better than that?

    If you don’t believe that orphanages are the right place for a child to be raised, then help stop them from getting there in the first place. Help feed a family. Help pay for a surgery. Help build a home. Help pay for schooling for their child. I know I talk about Love Without Boundaries a lot but that’s because I see the work they do. I see the pictures every day of the faces of heart children who get the surgery they need. I see the faces of children whose lives are changed with one good meal a day while they get to go to school. I see what $150 can do. It is completely and utterly mind blowing. There’s no other way to describe it. It is absolutely AMAZING!

    I am sitting here this morning wanting to do more. Wishing I could do more. That may or may not surprise you. I wish I could do more. If I could get on a plane tomorrow. I would travel half way around the world to adopt another child, but the rules have changed and I can’t go, no matter how badly I want to go.

    Yesterday, I dried the tears of my children who cried and cried for the little girl they have been praying for for over two years. Her picture hangs on our wall, but there is nothing we can do. This little girl is prayed for by many. Other families, who don’t qualify under the new rules, have said they would go too. So she sits without a family even though many, many people love her from afar.

    Today on Mother’s Day, I think about her. How I long to be her mother. How I wish I could dry her tears and hold her tight. But I can’t. How I wish to see a smile on her face and brush the hair from her face while she falls asleep. She looks so much like Lainey and I know what love has done for Lainey’s life. I want that for her. I want to see her splash in the water and laugh in the sunshine.

    We pray every day that a family steps up. I will cry tears when I see her go home both because I am happy she finally has a family and because we didn’t get to be her family.

    There’s another little girl that has our prayers in the Ukraine. She is malnourished…starving. She lies in a bed all day long. She needs a home but will age out in September at the young age of 16. I will not post her full picture here. Her eyes haunt me. She needs a home. She needs love. She needs to not die alone.

    I cried this weekend because I can’t do more. I sit here in my big, warm, wonderful home, with more blessings than I have ever deserved, so absolutely devastated that I can’t do more. I want to do more. But I can’t. Dan said, “Then write about it!” But I don’t feel like I can give it the words it needs. But I will try…

    Satan is good at keeping our eyes on things that don’t matter. Things like “Will we run out of toilet paper?” We are so worried about ourselves we don’t even have time to worry about Grace and all the other mothers and children in Uganda or Cambodia or the Ukraine. Mothers with no safety net, no food stamps, no healthcare.

    Our girls have started a campaign on their Chairs4Change site to help raise money for mothers in need. Mothers living in a shack, unable to pay the $5/month necessary for rent. Mothers unable to pay the $150 to send their child to school. Mothers who need a hand.

    https://www.lovewithoutboundaries.com/teamlwb4/Chairs4Change

    With your wonderful support, they’ve raised enough to build Grace and her family a home.

    We’ve raised enough to build Grace’s home but so many others wait. If you have been blessed, please consider giving a little to help others who work hard and still struggle.

    I am overwhelmed with sadness this week because so many things stop me from doing more. Children need families. Families need support. We, who are abundantly blessed, need to share our hearts, our homes, our dollars, our prayers.

    If you are feeling blessed this Mother’s Day, I ask that you reach out and support some moms that are working as hard as they can to provide for their family. They just need a helping hand.

    And if you have room and can put an extra chair at your table, consider providing a loving home for a child who waits.

    Happy Mother’s Day everyone! Instead of being overwhelmed by the bad in the world, let’s step up for one child, one family at a time, and make this world a better place whether they live right next door or a half a world away! Be the change you want to see!

  • Triaging Your Life

    Date: 2020.04.11 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    Just the other day Dan and I were discussing the craziness of life. We were discussing the different posts that we see on social media and how people are responding to this unprecedented time in our lives.

    There’s the the world is ending camp.

    The 700 different conspiracy camps.

    The “If you have faith, nothing will happen to you.” camp. I need to talk about this one for just a minute. I have faith. I will tell you, from personal experience, people take this one too far. Watch what you say to others and how your preach your faith. Almost 33 years later and I can still hear the words spoken to me at Kyle’s funeral…”Do you think if you had just a little more faith, God would have saved him?” or “Maybe God knew you couldn’t handle two sick kids.” or my all time favorite… “Maybe if you had prayed just a little harder God would have saved Kyle.”

    The “There’s nothing you can do about it if it’s your time to go, you will die.” camp. I believe in God’s timing. I believe when my time is up, God will call me home. I get it. But I still don’t play chicken on the interstate. Why? Because God gave me a brain.

    The “God won’t bring you pain” camp. I don’t know about you but God has taught me the most in life through painful moments. Not that God has caused them necessarily, man does a pretty good job of bringing pain into his own life, but God most assuredly allows pain to happen. “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.” – C.S. Lewis

    The “It’s his/her fault.” camp. Whoever that his or her may be.

    The “It’s no worse than the flu.”camp.

    The “Yes, it is worse than the flu.” camp.

    You get the picture. There’s a 100 different ways to look at the chaos that is going on in the world. I am not going to tell you my stand on any of it. But I will say my husband researches everything. It’s his job. He works in clinical and quality improvement. He spends hour after hour after hour dissecting everything out there. He isn’t paranoid but he is protective. When he says something could hurt us, we listen.

    See we have done what the world is doing right now for the past 21 years. Hope had a major congenital heart defect and then Grace was diagnosed with lupus. We’ve done it even more in the past 8 years since we’ve brought home 10 more children with complicated medical issues. We hear that there’s a nasty bout of flu going around, then we stay home. One of our children have a big surgery coming up, we stay home. We self-isolate. We use hand gel more. We wash our hands longer than usual, better than usual. We clean off door handles more. We don’t go to big gatherings of people. Only mom and dad do the shopping.

    Sounds like now. Right?

    I don’t know about store closings. I couldn’t tell you what is right or wrong with all the rest of the crap going on. I have no idea. I have tried to research it. It seems you can find information to back your side no matter what your side is. I am not going to even get into the social economic issues that are going on. I am, however, going to share with you an interesting insight that my husband had. He even said I could quote him on it. He’s a pretty quiet guy. I don’t get him saying I can quote him very often, but this one is worth sharing.

    I asked him why he thought we weren’t being affected emotionally like so many other people. He said…

    “Because we have already triaged our life.”

    I thought that was so profound. He is absolutely right.

    Maybe you are not in the medical field and you have never heard the word triage before.

    triage

    noun – (in medical use) the assignment of degrees of urgency to wounds or illnesses to decide the order of treatment of a large number of patients or casualties.

    verb – assign degrees of urgency to.

    Long ago when Kyle and Codey were so sick, we had to decide what was important. We lived off nothing in an old run down 1970’s trailer. We went without most of the time. I worked a midnight to 6 a.m. job, all so I could stay home with Codey and Zach. We decided what was most important to us.

    When we learned of a baby being left to die alone in the hospital, we chose what was most important. When everyone else was saying we’d ruin our family by taking home a child who would die, we knew what was right for us. When people were questioning the cost, saying things like don’t take on this debt, what about the insurance, all we could see was a little girl who needed a family to love her. When people questioned, what in the world are you doing? We heard God speak clearly.

    We reevaluated everything when we realized we weren’t guaranteed a tomorrow with our children. We knew the risk when we adopted Hope and when Grace got sick, it hit home again. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone.

    When we had the choice to give up our “empty nest” retirement to adopt again, I wish I could say I had learned my lessons over the years and readily said, “Yes!” but I didn’t. I questioned everything. I wasn’t ready to give up this normal, easy life that I had finally found. I was too old. I was too close to retirement, too close to being done working hard. I was ready to sit by the pool and eat my bon bon’s. (That one is for you little brother!)

    See over the years as Hope’s medical issues became less and less, when Dan finished medical school, and when he started working as a physician, I fell for the trappings of the world. Didn’t we deserve a nice house after working so hard and doing without so much during all of Dan’s training? Didn’t Zach and Cassie deserve to have a few nice things? Aren’t we supposed to give our kids sports and dance opportunities? Aren’t we supposed to fill their lives with all the good things that are out there? Shouldn’t we be going to Disney and seeing all the wondrous things of the world?

    But my heart was changed when I read the words “Is it better for an orphan to have an older mother or no mother at all?” (Triaged)

    And my heart was changed again when I walked into an orphanage. (Triaged again.)

    My heart was changed again when I started following blogs and Facebook pages about the orphanages around the world. When I realized children were dying in orphanges. Children were mistreated and starving in orphanages. (Triaged again…you get the picture.)

    My heart was changed again when I learned about Love Without Boundaries and started following their work.

    My heart was changed again when I saw the pictures and read about the need in other countries.

    My heart was changed again when I read of mothers and fathers abandoning their children because they couldn’t pay for surgery.

    Suddenly I felt guilt when I looked at my nice house. Why did I have so much when others didn’t have anything? I was certainly not a better person. I didn’t deserve more.

    I could go on and on. I will tell you that I live in a fairly nice house. I will tell you that I don’t have to do without if I don’t want to now. I will also let you in on a fact. My nice house is warm and cozy, but it isn’t what brings me joy. I was just as happy in that 1970’s shag carpet, ugly gold appliance holding, thin walled mobile home. Why? Because I knew what was important.

    As for the beautiful house, well, I look at the changes we made. I look at the beautiful woodwork and the mortgage payment and wish I had done so much more with that money. I am reminded daily about what happens when we start to get comfortable. I am reminded what happens when we forget about those who are in need all around us and only think about what we want.

    I hope that you are doing okay during this crisis. I hope that things are back to normal soon. I hope you are surrounded by people who are stepping in and filling any need that you have. I hope you are safe and warm and fed.

    BUT…

    I also hope you have slowed down and really looked at what is important in your life. I think God uses these moments to reach us, to teach us. He opens our eyes to what we can and can not do without.

    Right now kids are dying in orphanages all around the world.

    Right now child trafficking is at an all time high.

    Right now widows could use your help.

    Right now neighbors are struggling.

    Right now…

    What is really important?

    TRIAGE away…

    It’s a pretty eye-opening, heart changing, mind altering thing to do. Can you do more? Do you like home schooling? Do you appreciate your child’s teacher more? Can you do without that second car? Have you been missing too much with your children because you are too busy? Does your work take up too much time of your life? Do you miss gathering together on Sunday? Do you appreciate walking outside now? Do you miss your parents?

    What is important to you right now? What needs to change? Where is your life out of balance? Who needs your help? Who needs your forgiveness? What can you do to make the world a better place?

    There’s no better time than right now to make the world a better, more loving, more kind place.

    “In this life we cannot always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Mother Teresa

  • Happy Birthday Gracie!

    Date: 2020.03.23 | Category: Adoption, Grace | Response: 0

    The history of Gracie…

    16 years ago I felt like God was speaking to me. I felt like he was saying that we should have another child. This made no sense. I was almost 40 years old. I had had my tubes tied 12 years earlier after giving birth to Cassie. We had already adopted and knew what a beautiful thing adoption was but somehow my heart and my head kept going back to me being pregnant again.

    I didn’t tell anyone what I was feeling. I figured it was just me wanting to be pregnant again or me wanting to hold a baby again. Maybe this time my pregnancy would go okay. Maybe this time I wouldn’t be filled with such fear. Maybe this time everything would be ok. I figured that maybe I was just imagining things. Maybe I was just having those pangs mothers have when they realize they would never care for a little baby again.

    When Dan came to me a couple months later and said that he was thinking maybe we should have one more baby, I was ecstatic! I had been praying that if this was really something that God wanted us to do, then Dan would come to me. And Dan did. Dan said that he just had this feeling that it was the right thing to do.

    We talked to our family doctor and saw a fertility doctor. They checked to see if my eggs were still good. To this day that sentence cracks me up, like we were in the grocery store opening up the cartoon to make sure everything was still fresh. Anyway, the doctor said that we could have the surgery but that insurance wouldn’t cover it. He said the odds of me getting pregnant after this surgery, and after having my tubes tied for so long, and being 40 years old were very, very slim.

    Dan and I opted to proceed. We didn’t want them to do invitro we just wanted my tubes repaired and for nature to take its course. We figured if this was really what God wanted us to do then we would get pregnant on our own.

    The very first month I got pregnant. We thanked God for this miracle and we celebrated this new life. We had routine ultrasounds every month because I was over 40 years old. 35 weeks in, at one of these routine ultrasounds, the ultrasound tech got very quiet. She left the room. I looked at Dan and asked him what he saw. He said that it looked like blood.

    The tech came in with the doctor, who Dan knew because they worked together. The doctor informed us he was going to take a very big needle and draw off some fluid and if there was blood, we would have to do an emergency c-section. He put the needle in and pulled out the fluid.

    There was blood.

    He said he wanted to check one more spot, just to be sure. He grabbed another syringe and used the ultrasound to find another spot to pull off more fluid.

    The syringe was filled with more blood.

    The doctor informed us that we would have to go now. He told us to be thankful that we had the routine ultrasound because I was having no signs of distress with the baby and the baby needed to come out right now. The hospital was right across the street. I was devastated. Everything had been going so well. Why would God have me get pregnant to lose the baby now? How could this be part of the plan? This made no sense.

    Cassie was devastated. She had wanted to be with me during the delivery, but she was with her siblings 90 minutes away at grandma’s house. There was no time for Cassie to get to me before the delivery.

    Grace was born by emergency c-section the afternoon of March 23, 2005. We had wanted to have two pregnancies so there would be two children close together but when the high risk ob asked us what we wanted to do we said, “Tie the tubes. We don’t want to go through anything like this again.” He said good and informed us that he had no clue how we got pregnant in the first place. One tube was completely scarred over and the other tube didn’t even look hooked up. But we knew. We knew who had sent her to us and we named her Grace.

    Gracie was the best baby. She was sweet and everyone loved her. She was an old, old soul. There was just something about her. She understood things that no little child should understand. She had great compassion and empathy. She was kind and loving.

    We had been up at Dan’s grandma and grandpa’s house because Dan’s Grandma Ethel wasn’t doing very well. We all sat around and told stories while grandma rested in her chair. We knew Ethel didn’t have long. Gracie was one and 1/2. She held grandma’s hand. Grace offered Grandma her sippy cup. She was taking care of grandma even though Gracie couldn’t have known what was going on.

    During Grace’s young years she lost a lot of people she loved. She lost her great grandma at 1 and 1/2. She lost two great grandpas (Dan’s grandpa and my grandpa), she lost a grandma (my mom) and a grandpa (my stepdad), she lost a great aunt (Kay), she lost an uncle (Dan’s brother – Rod), and she lost papa (Dan’s dad) between the ages of 6 and 10.

    During the summer of 2012 Grace was sick off and on. We didn’t think much about it until we headed into the fall. Then it seemed like she just couldn’t kick this bug and she was tired all the time. We started to get an uneasy feeling and we decided to have her checked for mono because her strep tests had come back negative.

    We knew there was something wrong when the doctor pulled us in the hall. He told us Grace’s labs were all off and he had made us an appointment for that afternoon with an oncologist. We didn’t know what to think . We didn’t want to worry without knowing for sure, but it seemed impossible not to worry. We showed up at the oncology appointment. There was blood work ordered and a bone marrow biopsy scheduled for the next morning. All of this happened over the week of Thanksgiving in 2012.

    The good news was that Grace didn’t have leukemia. The bad news? No one knew what she had until she woke up with a butterfly rash across her cheeks.

    It was systemic lupus erythematosus.

    LUPUS! 6 year olds don’t get lupus, but I was wrong. They do.

    Because it was a holiday, they said we could wait to see the kidney specialists at the Children’s Hospital, sometime after the first of the year. Dan made them do the urine test right away that weekend. Thank goodness we didn’t just wait for the appointment a few months away because Grace had stage 4/5 lupus nephritis. I could write a whole book about the times Dan has had a feeling and saved the children from something horrible, but that’s a story for another day. Grace had a kidney biopsy done and they started her treatments right away. Today her kidneys are doing well.

    During Grace’s treatments, she never felt sorry her yourself. She took her boatload of meds without complaint. She comforted me by telling me that she was thankful to be alive and thankful that there were meds to take.

    She raised money for other kids who were in need.

    During all of this we were in the middle of our adoption and getting ready to leave in a few months for Ben and Maisey. We asked Grace what she wanted us to do. She said, ‘You have to go get them. They are my brother and sister. They can’t stay there. I will be okay. I just want my siblings to be home for my birthday.” We scheduled her chemotherapy treatments around our travel dates. We prayed and prayed that nothing would happen to her while we traveled a half a world away.

    We came back to America with Ben and Maisey on Grace’s 8th birthday.

    New beds are the best!

    When we decided the very next year to adopt again, Grace was so happy. She loved Ben and Maisey and wanted to add even more children. She was thrilled when we added an older child, Jasmine. She even wanted to share her room with Jasmine.

    The very next year she prayed and prayed for a child her own age and we brought Elyse home.

    The year after that she knew, along with Elyse, that J.J. was her sister.

    I say all of this to show what an incredible kid Grace is. She’s been through a lot in her 15 years. She opened up her heart and shared her room and gave up her spot of being the baby in our family to bring home NOT one more child BUT 10 more children.

    Gracie is not your usual kid. The last couple years have been hard on her. It’s hard to be a teenager in a house full of the “talked about kids”. It’s hard to deal with the stress of kids who take their anger out on you. Heck, it’s hard for me and I’m a grown up.

    There’s meds and doctors appointments. There’s the conflict caused when the sister closest to you in age isn’t able to do the same things you do. There’s more responsibility. I wish I could say that adoption hasn’t made Grace’s life harder, but it has made it harder. But when asked about it, Grace always says that she would do it all over again. She says she can do hard things and having family is the most important thing.

    Dan and I try extra hard to not give her any extra work but she does have to babysit sometimes. She is able to earn things with her babysitting money and she loves that. Gracie babysits because she’s amazing. She understands Lainey’s seizures better than most people. She can administer a rescue seizure med and knows how to perform CPR. She knows how to do g-tube feedings. She knows when Max needs a little more supervision.

    Gracie is amazing. It broke my heart this year when she told me that she lives in a house full of people who have amazing stories but she is just this ordinary girl. I tried and tried to get her to understand how amazing it was for her to share her family and her home with all these children. Her response? “Mom, that isn’t special. Anyone would do that.” When I explained that not everyone would do that, she informed me that they should so just because others wouldn’t do it, didn’t make her somehow special because she did.

    I am taking this moment on Gracie’s special day and writing all of this out so she can see her story. It is AMAZING! Gracie, I hope when you read this that you really understand just how incredible your story is and how amazing your heart is.

    Grace, you have opened your heart, shared your things, and gone above and beyond what most kids would have ever done. You are an incredible kid. I know that the teen years have been hard. Heck teen years are hard if nothing is going on in your life and you’ve got a lot going on.

    You love and you love big. You weren’t afraid of adopting kids that might die. You were more afraid of not adopting them. You are beautiful and smart and talented. God knew exactly what He was doing when He placed the thought of “one more” on my mind. You being so open and willing to bring your brothers and sisters home is what made it easy for me to say, “Ok God. I will follow.”

    Right now I know there is a little girl in China who has your heart. We pray and pray for her to have a family. I know if China opened up their doors to large families adopting again, you would be there filling out the paperwork and begging us to bring her home. Well, you already beg. We just can’t do anything about it. That shows who you really are. Your parents are 55 years old and you know that if something happened to us, you’d have to help care for your siblings and this new one that you wish you could adopt and yet you would instantly do it without any hesitation knowing how much more work it would be. As you tell me all the time, she reminds you of Lainey and look how amazing Lainey is doing. I love that about you.

    I hope you understand how incredible you really are. You have an amazing heart and daddy and I are so proud to call you our daughter. Daddy and I love you so much Grace! Happy 15th birthday sweetheart!

    P.S. When you decided that you wanted to do judo along with the TaeKwonDo you were doing with your family, your dad gave you a challenge to see how serious you were about it. One month to do the following: 1,000 minutes of exercise, 1,000 pushups, 1,000 situps, 1,000 squats, and 300,000 steps. You did it! I don’t ever want you to forget that you did that!

    I love to see how excited you are about judo and how excited dad is that you are doing a sport that he loves too. Can’t wait to see where you go with this passion of yours.

  • Chairs4Change (Jasmine’s Story)

    Date: 2020.03.10 | Category: Jasmine (Shuang Shuang), Jasmine's Blog, Jasmine's Dream | Response: 0

    ***Jasmine and I talked a long time about what she is about to say. I (Lisa, her mom) feel like she doesn’t need to talk about the troubles we’ve had but she says it plays a big part in why Chairs4Change is so important to her. For that reason, I am going to go ahead and let her write what she feels compelled to write.

    ——————————————————————————————————————-

    I haven’t been writing my blog for a while because I have been really mad and really sad. I was really mad at China. They lied to me. They said I can walk when I go to America….but it didn’t happen! I hoped and hoped to walk and I couldn’t.

    I was so mad and I put all my madness on my mom. I do so many bad stuff to mom. I was mad about everything and I did not care who I hurt. I hurt anyone and everyone but mainly mom. I made my mom’s life really hard the last four years. Mom says I am doing better but I want to do even better.

    Mom told me, all the time, you can continue to be mad that you can’t walk and feel sorry for yourself or you can do something about it. I was just so mad about what everyone did to me. I said things I shouldn’t say and I hurt mom. Mom says I don’t need to say this stuff but I feel like I do because it tells why Chairs4Change is important to me and it’s time to let go of the mad. Maybe I can help someone else who is really mad too. Mad just hurts you not China.

    I was mad for a long time and I didn’t know how to stop and then Elyse came to me with her idea for Chairs4Change. She was so excited about how we could work together to help kids. When she told me I was so excited because I always had a dream to help kids and I have always hoped kids wouldn’t have to live in the orphanage and would have people help them.

    After Elyse told me that she talked to Amy Eldridge with Love Without boundaries and that we could help over 700 kids, I think it was so cool. I really wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to do everything that we could to help them. I know what it was like to not go to school and not have food. I decided to work with Elyse. Her idea was so amazing! Jessica wanted to do it too!

    Can you imagine not going to school?

    Can you imagine not getting surgery?

    Can you imagine not getting enough food?

    Can you imagine not having water?

    Can you imagine being alone?

    We can do something!

    Can you help? Maybe you can save your change too?!?!?

    We will be having a fundraiser on April 19th. Sunday 1-4 at Pet Supplies Plus in Altoona, Iowa. We will be doing a dog wash, selling my origami jars and ornaments, selling our hymnal bird prints, and we will be trying to fill a bucket with change. Do you have change that you can give?

    Today we reached $30,000 which is amazing! Thanks to all of you guys! I hope that we can reach our goal. One million dollars is so much money but I believe we can do this if we all work together.

    Thank you guys so much!

  • Jessica Jean

    Date: 2020.03.09 | Category: Jessica, Uncategorized | Response: 0

    She is quiet. She is observant and notices absolutely everything. She is amazing! She is caring and sweet and thoughtful. She is sometimes stubborn and feisty. She likes to follow the rules and know what is expected of her.

    She loves Slim Jims so her daddy made her a carrier for her favorite treats. She is all about the spicy sauce on all her food. She loves noodles and rice and spicy pizza….well, spicy anything! She should own stock in a chili oil company.

    She is the oldest of the littles. When she first came home, we had her in the room with Grace and Elyse but after a few months at home we realized she would do better in the littles’ group. She spent most of her time in the orphanage in a baby room where there was nothing to do but sit around. She said her days were long and boring. She needed time to just be a little girl. She needed time to play games and hang out with her crew.

    She came home at 8 years old. She had never been to school. She says she can’t remember anyone ever reading her a book. She had no clue what the alphabet was or any of the other basic skills that a kindergartner would have. She has done AMAZING in school. She was behind everyone in reading and worked really hard until she became the best reader. Although, it may be a tie with Maisey right now. 🙂 She loves everything about learning and absorbs it all like a sponge.

    She is the best little artist and can always be found with a book or an artist’s sketch pad in her hand. She draws all the time. We are working on a book together. Elyse, Maisey and Jessica are going to do all the art work. I am so excited for their project to come to fruition.

    She is determined. She watched her brothers and sister run a ninja course in our backyard. She was determined to do it too. She is a little thing. Reaching all the bars was no small feat, but she did it and was so proud of herself.

    She recently started para-taekwondo and LOVES it! She is working on her yellow/green belt and should have it pretty soon. I am so happy that Dan found Spirit TKD. It is so wonderful to be able to do something as a family and not have these three feel left out. We have 9 children doing TKD right now. Spirit TKD has a great family rate that makes all of this possible.

    The girls started a group called Chairs4Change and were recently interviewed on We are Iowa Live. Jessica was so excited to be a part of it. They call her the silent partner because she doesn’t like to do any of the talking but is the very best cheerleader of the group when no one else is watching. The girls want to help other children get the care that they need. J knows better than anyone what it means to not have the health care that you need to live your best life.

    It’s been two years since J received her new kidney. She has done amazingly well. She has monthly lab work and sees her doctor every 3 months. She takes her twice daily, handful of pills without complaint and is thankful everyday to have been given this chance at a healthier life.

    When we adopted J, 4 years ago this past February, she was a shut down, sad, frightened little girl. She took the longest, of all the children we adopted, to trust us. She didn’t trust adults. She wouldn’t even talk to Dan or I for the longest time. She felt safe with Elyse and Gracie and we just let her be. We hoped and prayed that sooner or later she would come around to wanting a family and parents and she did. She just needed time to watch and know she could trust us.

    J is an incredible child. She is funny and has grasped the English language so quickly. Dan and I feel so blessed to get to be her parents. We wish she would have never gone through the things that she had to endure but we are so happy we get to be here for her now and help her handle whatever life throws her way.

    Dan and I will be forever thankful that Elyse and Grace were so adamant that J was their sister. It seems they knew it before us. Children are smarter than us in things of the heart sometimes.

    I had meant to post this on her birthday, which was January 6th, but as happens in much of my blogging life these days, I am a few days (months) late. So this blog is brought to you on this gloomy Monday morning, which was supposed to be my Saturday blogging time, in March which should have been January. Just keeping it real!

    Happy birthday J! Mommy and daddy love you with all our hearts. You are such a blessing to our lives. I hope you never, ever forget it! You are truly a fabulous human being! You are an incredible fighter. You are bright and so observant. You notice things and make things happen. We love that about you! Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are less than. We all know that you are definitely more! Love you J to the moon and back!

  • What Makes a Child Worthy of Supporting?

    Date: 2020.02.23 | Category: Congenital Heart Defect, Love Without Boundaries | Response: 0

    Is it beauty?

    Is it an appropriately sad story?

    Is it the belief that others can make a difference?

    What is it?

    I wish I knew. I wish every video would go viral. I wish every child was fully funded. I wish every child’s sponsorship page said, “No more help needed.” I wish every surgery said, “Fully funded.” I wish every family could be supported. Why? Because I believe what Love Without Boundaries says – #EveryChildCounts.

    But unfortunately that is not the case.

    Some children just sit and sit on the sponsorship page. Is it that education isn’t important? Is it where you are from? Is it that your story isn’t sad enough? What is it?

    I have been on the board of Love Without Boundaries for a few years now. I love the work they do. I love how they step in and fill the gap for a family or a child that just needs a little help. If you were in the room with me right now, you would see my face light up and the words just pour out of me. I believe in what LWB does!

    My FaceBook feed is filled with memories of children that have been helped.

    Every year those memories pop up. Do you remember Harley & James. What an amazing story! It was beautiful watching people step up and help.

    Look at them now…

    Or Oliver? Sweet Oliver and his mom who just wanted her baby to be ok.

    People stepped up and helped in amazing ways.

    Doesn’t his mama’s smile just say it all?

    A couple of weeks ago, my FaceBook news feed was filled with Emma’s story and pictures. Jasmine cried and cried over Emma. “Can’t we help her mama?” Jasmine would plead. Emma was written about by LWB in 2013. Emma was a little girl, who sat with a broken leg for way too long. LWB was trying to get her the care that she needed.

    Unfortunately, Emma’s story did not end the way we hoped and she passed away. We cried and cried over Emma. Emma deserved having someone in her corner, praying for her, and helping her. No matter what the outcome was!

    There are pictures that pop up on my FaceBook feed of babies that have passed away. I know that I could hide the post and I wouldn’t see it every year. I could pretend that it didn’t happen. I could save myself the heartache of remembering, but then I think about my little boy, Kyle. I think about how every year I remember his birth. I remember what it felt like to feel his kicks. I remember what it felt like to hold him as he took his last breath. I remember, 33 years later, the rocker I sat in and the white curtain that was pulled around me. I remember trying to call family. I remember holding his dead body as we drove the 90 minutes back home to the funeral home in our home town because we couldn’t afford to pay for someone to come pick up his body. I cry tears and I remember.

    I want to remember these babies. I want to know that someone remembers them. I don’t know anything about their family and why they chose to leave them. I am sure the mother remembers the birth, but she doesn’t know about the death. How could she know? So I remember.

    Every day my inbox is filled with stories. Some stories are happy and some are not. People can be cruel to children, as we well know by the headlines that we read every day. I don’t know how Amy and our volunteers do it. They step in and fill the gap every single day. They are the heroes behind the beautiful stories of hope and healing that you read about on LWB’s blog, Facebook, and website pages.

    Sometimes they are able to find the help needed in amazing ways and sometimes there is nothing that can be done. Just imagine the heartbreak and sorrow they feel when they can’t help and yet, they get up time and time again and keep trying to help. They are truly heroes.

    Many of you know that we have four children who have congenital heart defects. The reason Oliver’s story resonated with me was that I know what it is like to care for a little one who has blue lips and fingertips. I, however, had the luxury of taking my children to specialists around the country. Oliver’s mom didn’t have that luxury.

    Right now LWB is trying to fund 5 heart surgeries in 7 days. They are trying to step in and be the gap for families that don’t have the luxury that Dan and I did.

    I don’t want to be the person that is constantly asking for your to open your checkbook and help, but someone has to tell their stories. Someone has to let you know the need. I guess I am going to be that someone today.

    Please consider giving to LWB’s heart initiative. I mean seriously! Look at these sweet faces.

    What is your Facebook feed filled with? What have your days been measured by? We only get one life. Make it count. Do something. Be the gap! Step up and help! When you look back at your Facebook feed next year, you will be thrilled that you did!

    https://www.lovewithoutboundaries.com/heart-initiative/m.children/3198/view/4921

  • 2020

    Date: 2020.01.25 | Category: Adoption, Family Life | Response: 0

    So I have decided that 2020 is the year of seeing clearly. One of the things I was going to do a better job of was blogging every week. I thought Saturday mornings would be the best time. I would wake up early, put my fingers to the keyboard, and be done before anyone else woke up.

    How’s that going for me? Well, it’s the 4th Saturday of 2020 and I am just now starting to type. Better late than never, right? 2020 is also the year of exercise (that’s going great), sleeping more (hot flashes aren’t helping that), and being the best me that I can be. 2020 is about implementing everything that I know to be true and finishing all those projects that have sat on hold for the past 8 years as our family found our new normal.

    It has been almost 9 years since we started on our international adoption journey. 10 years since Dan came to me, after reading Max Lucado’s book Outlive Your Life and said that he thought we should think about adopting one more time. Our one more time turned into four times of traveling to China and ten children joining our family.

    In March, it will be 8 years since Ben and Maisey joined our family. It hardly seems possible that it has been 4 years since our last adoption. What do I know for a fact after all this time? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Ha!

    What works for one kid doesn’t work for the other. What encourages one child, won’t encourage the other. When a child has attachment issues, everyone pays. I’m not sure there is any way around that. When everyone else just wants them to be part of the family and they just can’t let themselves do it, no matter how hard they try, hearts are going to hurt! It can’t be avoided.

    If you think living in an orphanage is a good thing, you’ve never been more wrong. I don’t know how it could actually work out well for anyone. I can’t believe we, as humans, ever thought that this was a good thing. I mean I get that we want children fed and safe and for them to have a place to lie their heads BUT surely we can’t believe that housing children in an institution is the right thing. It’s easy to throw money at a building especially if it allows you to rid yourself of the guilt of not helping families stay together, or getting the children the medical care they need, or opening your doors yourself. I don’t know much, but I do know we can do better.

    But then again, maybe not, agencies are closing their doors to international adoption. All over my Facebook feed, people are sharing the statistics on international adoption, and the numbers aren’t good. Having been in a couple of orphanages, and seeing my Facebook feed filled with stories from all over the world showing the care that other children get in orphanages, I can’t stand it. We aren’t doing enough to protect the children!

    WAIT! I stand corrected. There is something I know and can state with utmost certainty. We aren’t doing enough to protect children!

    I mean if we have children in the U.S. that are actually put in juvenile delinquency institutions because there aren’t enough homes open to our own foster kids, well then we are NOT doing enough. We are failing the children.

    The words people utter matter. The things people do matter. I am parenting children where the emotional issues far outweigh any of the physical issues. I’m not afraid to work hard or to stay busy doing things for my children who need help. BUT the emotional drain of the turmoil caused by verbal and physical abuse from others to your child, takes its toll.

    If you have a child, who never owns the words worthless, they will have issues and have lots to work through, but you can see steady progress. But if you have a child who believes all those horrible words said to them and believes that they deserved everything that happened to them, then the path is a lot less clear and progress happens very, very slowly.

    If you would have told me years ago that you could have a child, that actually sabotages the good because they feel so much more comfortable in the bad, I would have never believed it. But, unfortunately, it is true. We want to believe that love can fix everything, but sometimes it just isn’t enough. As a mother, it’s the hardest thing for me. To realize that no matter how much I love said child(ren), that may never be enough to undo the harm inflicted by other careless adults.

    I do know that the hard is still worth it. That they still deserve me fighting for them and loving them with everything I have. Knowing everything I know now, I would still adopt them. I have never, ever doubted that we did the right thing. I would have changed how I responded. I would have read the books and watched the Karen Purvis videos a whole lot sooner, but I would still adopt. I would have still adopted two at a time, out of age order, and exactly how we did it. I just would have been better prepared. I thought I was prepared, but I was wrong.

    I have learned a whole lot about unconditional love these past 8 years. To love, when someone is trying to hurt you with their words, is hard. It’s hard to not take it personally. I have failed at that too many times. It’s hard. That’s all. It’s just hard.

    Every morning I wake up and try again. Every morning I play my Christian play list reminding me that “I Want to Be Different” (Micah Tyler) and that I don’t want to miss anything, “The Beautiful Things we Miss” (Matthew West), and that I am just a “Nobody” (Casting Crowns) and that there are no “Mistakes” (Unspoken) that God can’t use for His Glory.

    2020 is about fixing what I can and accepting what I can’t. It’s about putting into practice all the things I said I would. Finances, health, family. All great places to start working on just being a little bit more. A little more present. A little more patient. A little more healthy. A little more…

    Maybe it’s because I just turned 55 and I can’t believe that much of my life has flown by. Maybe it’s because life has finally started to calm down a little bit. (Knock on wood!) Maybe it’s because the world seems to be just a little bit crazier and it feels like there’s nothing I can do about it. I don’t know but for whatever reason, 2020 seems like a great year to just work on me, and my little part of the world, being better!

    Happy New Year everyone!

  • Elyse’s Speech for Faith StoryTellers

    Date: 2019.12.07 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 0

    My name is Elyse. Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 14 years old. 14 years ago I was left outside the gates of an orphanage in China.

    I have been in America for 5 years. When I get nervous I talk really fast. I am going to try to slow down because I want everyone to know that life in an orphanage sucks!

    • It sucks to have no family!
    • It sucks to be alone in the hospital.
    • It sucks to go through hard times alone.
    • It sucks to get hit.
    • It sucks to get burned.
    • It sucks to be told you are worthless every day.

    The nannies constantly told me that I was fat and that they didn’t want to lift me so I should die.

    When I was 7 or 8 I thought about committing suicide.

    Then one day when I was almost 9 I heard I was getting adopted and everything changed.

    My family loves me.

    • I have 8 sisters and 7 brothers.
    • I have a wheelchair now.
    • I get to be who I want.
    • I get to go to school.
    • I get to do para taekwondo.
    • I get to have my own clothes.

    I have learned so much.

    The BEST part is my mom and dad taught me about God.

    I was baptized on my mom’s birthday three years ago. When mom and I got out my papers to find where I was left, we realized that the day I was baptized was the same day I was left at the orphanage all those years ago.

    I have been mad at China for two years.

    • I didn’t get to go to school.
    • I didn’t get to play outside.
    • They told me I was worthless.
    • They hit me all the time.
    • I held a baby when it died.
    • My foster brother couldn’t be adopted.

    Then one day at VBS a girl asked me where I was born and I told her that I was born in China and I grew up in an orphanage.

    That girl said she wished she lived in an orphanage where she didn’t have to do anything and everyone did everything for her. I told her they hit me all the time and she said, “So? My mom hits me too.”

    I asked my mom why someone would say that. Mom said it’s because people don’t know how bad orphanages really are.

    But now I decided being mad doesn’t change anything. I want to make changes. I want people to know everyone matters. I want people to know what orphanage life is really like. I want people to know that kids need families.

    I used to think that I wanted to make a difference when I grow up. Then I had a dream where someone died before I could get to them. I felt like God was telling me that I shouldn’t wait to grow up to make a difference.

    I have two sisters who use wheelchairs too. We were all adopted as older kids. We want to help kids like us.

    We decided to start a group called Chairs4Change. We want to have people donate their change to help Love Without Boundaries. Love Without Boundaries is the group that helped Jasmine and I get a family.

    My dream is to raise $1,000,000. When I asked Amy Eldridge what we could with a million dollars I was so excited.

    We can…

    • We can fund 200 cleft surgeries and fix cleft lips like my foster brother had.
    • We can fund 90 heart surgeries and help children just like my four brothers and sisters who have heart defects.
    • We can build a school for 200 kids so they can go to school. Jasmine, J.J., and I were never allowed to go to traditional school.

    I want my dream to be so big people know only God could do that.

    • I believe every life matters.
    • I believe God has been with me through everything.
    • I believe God can use me to change the world.
    • I believe I have a purpose.
    • I believe every child counts.

    and most of all I believe A LITTLE CHANGE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD!