Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

  • Jasmine’s Dream

    Date: 2017.03.18 | Category: Uncategorized

    Jasmine’s Dream – “A family for every child.”

    Jasmine has decided to let her sisters join her in the blogging world.  They are taking her Flower That Blooms blog and turning into her platform for Jasmine’s Dream.  I thought I would share that information here in case you didn’t already know about their blog.

    They are still wanting to do the same things:

    1.)  Promote adoption awareness.

    2.)  Show what life was like in the orphanage for children with special needs.

    3.)  Start an Etsy store to raise funds for adoptions.

    4.)  Reach their goal of 1,000 children helped.


    Elyse’s first post…

    Elyse’s Words

     

  • 28 Days of Hearts

    Date: 2017.02.25 | Category: Uncategorized

    I was asked to share out story on the 28 Days of Heart blog.  It has been a pleasure to share our story during the past years.  Our story has changed a lot from 2013 to now.

    This blog shares the hearts of parents who have adopted children from China with heart defects.  They share the ups, the downs, the blessings, and trials.  Your heart will be moved by reading these beautiful stories.

    Here is ours…

    28 Days of Hearts

  • Big Family – Big Dreams – Big Story

    Date: 2017.02.16 | Category: Uncategorized

    Group story time at the Ellsbury’s can result in some enthusiastic and sweet stories from our wonderful children. One of these stories is below, and highlights the sweetness of our babies and how loving they are to others.

    Super powers of the Super Middles and Super Littles:

    Elyse – power of invisibility, and can fly on a good day

    Gracie – can make things invisible and can make any baby stop crying

    Jasmine – can wrap up people in yarn super fast and can make baby blankets super fast

    Hopey – can do super scary makeup that makes people faint

    JJ – can fly and sing people to sleep

    Max – touches people’s heads and they can’t hear for 24 hours

    Ben – super fast and has super long arms

    Eli – super strong and has super long arms

    Liam – makes people forget to remember

    Maisey – can turn into cute animals

    Evie – can instantly paint the walls in a room and talk really, really fast

    Lainey – can turn anything into a baby bottle

    Mom – has extra arms to feed lots of babies and always has lots of extra love, never sleeps

    Dad – super doctor who loves babies and does anything a baby tells him to do


    One day the Super Littles and Super Middles realized they couldn’t adopt any more, but they still wanted to.  They started devising a plan to be spies and figure out how many kids they could get home and fit in their new house.

    Eli had already started building a big beautiful castle with 777 bedrooms to house all their new brothers and sisters.  Eli was super strong and really fast so the castle was almost done.   Evie had started to paint all the rooms.  She painted them orange, yellow, green, blue, red, purple, and pink just like the kids’ special colors.

    The house was amazing. There were huge rooms for everyone to sit and watch a movie.  There were tables that were super long and super big where everyone could eat.  The table was a special machine invented by Zach and Reece that could make food in large quantities.  Codey had a giant table full of Kindles for all the kids to play with.  Cassie and Stephanie helped decorate the house and ran a special store where we could get all our supplies.  The store was in our front yard and everything was free.

    The middles had been devising a plan to make an invisible jet to secretly fly across the ocean to their orphanages to adopt more brothers and sisters.  They had been practicing taking care of babies and they were sure they could do it.  They each remembered kids that they wanted to bring home to be their brothers and sisters.  Some kids were little and some kids were older just like them.

    Maisey reminded them that they all needed “to work together”.   She gave them a very special pep talk. She wasn’t kidding.

    Elyse and Gracie became invisible and snuck JJ and Liam into the building so JJ could fly around and sing everyone to sleep and Liam could make them forget so they wouldn’t come after the super heroes.  Ben and Eli were super fast and picked up the kiddos in their super long arms and started putting them into the airplane that was invisible because Gracie touched it.   Max made it so people couldn’t hear them so they wouldn’t be caught.

    In the jet, Maisey became a really, really cute bunny that could talk to make all the little kids feel safe and happy.   Lainey made bottles for all the babies.  JJ sang to the babies so they would go to sleep.  Daddy looked over everyone and made sure they were doing ok.

    We flew home to our rainbow house that lights up and plays the song “We are Family” really loud as we drive in the driveway.   Mema was there to meet everyone and she fainted when she realized she had 777 more grandchildren.

    If anyone bad tried to bother us in our new house, Hopey would put on zombie makeup to scare them, Jasmine would wrap them up in yarn, and Eli would make the bad guys do tricks like backflips and make them wear big mustaches.  Maisey was always a cute little bunny but if someone was mean she would turn into a crocodile and scare them.   Evie would talk, and talk, and talk, and talk until the bad guys ran away.  (Not sure why we have bad guys visiting but it seems we do.)

    Every day we all sit in a giant room with a ton of computers where everyone plays Minecraft together and goes to school together.  We are happy all the time all day long.   Mama is so happy that she gets to love everyone and teach them.  The house is a magic house like in Beauty and the Beast and it cleans itself.  And we have lots of chickens so we can all have spicy chicken feet! Yum!

    We have a giant superbus that is really long and two levels.  Steph and Cassie have super powers and can do the girl’s hair fast (542 girls – so they have to braid FAST).  Everyone is very happy to have a family and we celebrate together because….

    “All our dreams came true.  We have a big, happy family!”

    THE END

     

  • Christmas Letter 2016 (The Littles)

    Date: 2016.12.29 | Category: Adoption, Family Life, Uncategorized

    Merry Christmas everyone!

    We’ve had an exciting year in the Ellsbury household.

    We receive the miracle of a healed heart for Benjamin.  We were told that there was no hope and now his future is full of hope!  Ben turned eight and is enthralled with soldiers and police officers.  He has learned how to read and loves math and school.  To see our boy filled with energy and no longer blue is a beautiful gift.

    ben-now

    Little Evie has had a wonderful year.  She has grown since her last surgery and continues to do well with her health.  She is a ray of sunshine from the time she wakes up until her little head hits her pillow.  She is everything that is good with the world.

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    She was adopted 3 and 1/2 years ago with Elijah.  They continue to be the best of friends.  These two should have their own reality show.  They are a hoot together!  I mean seriously who could resist these sweet, little faces?

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    I continue to stand in amazement of Eli.  Every day I am reminded of the miracle of modern medicine.  The amazing fact that he had main branch pulmonary arteries formed out of four collaterals and graft material in a 14 hour surgery just blows my mind.  I stand in awe of our awesome God and the gifts He gives.  It’s hard to take anything for granted when your life is filled with such miracles.

    eli-now

    Big miracles come in all shapes and sizes.  Lainey  has come so far from that sad little girl who never looked you in the eye.  She yells “mama and daddy”.  She hugs with such sweetness.  She gives love pats all day long.  She can not say many words but her love language is loud and clear.  She holds hands.  She hugs.  She loves and all the kids love her.  And the very best news is that now that her seizures are better under control she is actually sleeping for 4-5 hours at a stretch.  This has been very welcome to mama.  She will often sleep for four hours and go back to sleep for another four.  I can certainly live with that.

    lainey-now

    Maisey has become quite the little mother.  She is quiet and shy but since she has gotten her BAHA (bone conducting hearing aid) she has become more vocal.  She figured out that she is funny.  She hears so much better and her speech has come so far.  She takes care of everyone.  She loves BIG!  She loves art and drawing and writing.  She has decided she wishes to be a ninja librarian when she grows up.  It’s a job that would suit her well.

    maisey-now

    One of the best gifts during this past year is Maisey and Evie’s friendship.  Evie’s personality is BIG and Maisey is quiet so they have always gotten along but Maisey would choose to play by herself a lot.  That has changed this year as they both realize how much fun having a sister is.  It does my heart good to see them play.

    maisey-evie-now

    Max also received a BAHA this year.  It has been amazing to see him actually hear and start to understand what conversation is.  His world opened up when he realized he could actually ask for something.  He continues to learn more signs – last count was 300+.  We still have a long ways to go but he has certainly made great leaps this past year.  Probably his biggest step forward was understanding affection.  He asks for hugs and kisses now.  He sits on people’s laps.  It’s one of the hardest things on this mama’s heart to realize your children don’t know what hugs and kisses mean.  It’s a cultural thing as well as an institutional issue but when they finally get it….well, there’s not a whole lot that is better in the world.

    max-now

    Because of facial issues it’s still hard for him to smile big but his giggle is contagious.  He can barely contain his laughter and it makes the rest of us laugh too.  The boys play pretty well together.  They have their arguments as all siblings do but they really do get along amazingly well.  Their favorite thing to do is to dress up in costumes and play super heroes.  They make the cutest super heroes don’t you think?

    Super Hero Day 2016

    Our seventh little is William, we all refer to him as Liam.  Liam had a harder transition than any of the other littles.  He enjoyed his treatment in China.  He had a case of Little Emperor’s syndrome.  Don’t believe it’s a real thing?  Just google it.  Anyway, it was hard for him to share at first.  He wanted to always be first and when he didn’t get his way he would cry for hours.  He has come so far and has learned what family truly means.  I am proud of the progress he has made in 9 short months.  His whole world was turned upside down and he had to learn how things work here.  We still have moments, but they are few and far between now.  Sometimes adoption brings unknowns that you really couldn’t even foresee being a problem.  I’m glad he feels loved and cared for and that he trusts us.

    He is sweet and caring and a natural born leader.  He is charming and very smart.  He loves math and eagerly learns new things.  He loves to help.  We instituted a Leader Day for each little and he eagerly waits for his turn.  Wednesdays are Liam’s favorite days now.

    liam-now

    There is nothing little about our Littles.  The love BIG!  They love life!  Our house is noisy and chaotic and filled with laughter.  There is never a dull moment with them around.  They bring so much to our lives.  Dan and I constantly say, “We could have missed this!” and I’m here to tell you that we would have missed a lot.  Our lives would have been so much duller, quieter maybe, but so much less.  We have been blessed beyond measure to be able to call these children sons and daughters.

    Not a day goes by that I don’t stop in my tracks and think about the miracles that have happened to them with both emotional and physical healing.  I don’t deserve the blessings they bring but I am forever grateful that we get to be a part of their lives.

     

  • Jessica and William

    Date: 2016.02.22 | Category: Uncategorized

    Hello! Cassie again (tired of me yet?)

    Mom and Dad have Jessica, and she is precious. Her orphanage loved her, they really did. They sent her with money, her stroller, clothes, and a backpack full of toys. They also made Mom and Dad promise to bring Jessica to the orphanage so they could say goodbye. As you can tell by her face, she was hesitant at first…

     

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    This is her timid face. Her disposition instantly turns to this sweet face as soon as she is unsure of the situation.

     

     

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    She made daddy work for her attention; she really wasn’t sure what to do with him. Give him an hour, some chips, and a backpack full of pretty things, and his daddy powers won her over. 🙂

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    Little one is tiny!! Her orphanage called her “little one” instead of her Chinese name. This is her compared to my mom’s standard-sized backpack…

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    and her little shoe next to a Coke can.

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    Even Liam got in on the glamour and glitter. A little lip gloss goes a long way…

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    As you can see, she loved Daddy’s bracelets!!!

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    Liam and Jessica have bonded quickly. The Kindle has movies on it, and Big Hero 6 seems to be a favorite.

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    Liam loves to draw; he was super excited to see Maisey drawing on one of our Skype calls.

     

     

     

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    Daddy made a fort, and they’ve spend all their cuddle times in there.

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    Sweet babies… We can’t wait for you to get home and see just how loved you are…. 😀     

     

     

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  • We’re Almost to JJ!

    Date: 2016.02.21 | Category: Uncategorized

    Cassie, again. It is Monday morning in China, and my parents will soon be on their way to get Jessica. Their guide has met her, and says she is an absolute doll. She says that she is sweet, kind, and loves to take care of the babies. I think she’ll fit in pretty well. 🙂 JJ

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Mr12754992_10208584075789361_1143013459_o. William is doing splendidly. He loves to play and dance and draw. When we were skyping, he got very excited when he saw that Mei Mei was drawing too! I don’t think he’s going to have any problems fitting in here. 🙂 The kids are all excited, and I constantly hear about all the things that Liam is going to do with them.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Jasmine and Elyse made Jessica a video for Mom and Dad to show her this afternoon. I don’t remember everything they said, but there are about 15 “I/We love you”s and “Mama and Baba will keep you safe and love you” and “we can’t wait for you to get to America!” I thought you would enjoy. 🙂

     

     

     

  • William!!

    Date: 2016.02.18 | Category: Uncategorized

    Cassie, here. I didn’t realize that I was supposed to be posting…. oops! So, quick upload with some cute pictures. 😉

     

    William is settling in great. He’s been happy and giggly the whole time. He fully recognizes that Mom and Dad are HIS mama and baba. He loves having a family, and seems to be adjusting very well. He loves Hot Wheels, the Kindle, and Big Hero 6.

    Here are a few pictures to hold you over until I get a post from Mom. Make sure you check out the facebook group for all the updates!

     

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  • National Heart Month

    Date: 2016.02.07 | Category: Uncategorized

    Today is our day to share on the 28 Days of Hearts blog.  We’ve shared for a couple of years now.  I love reading through the stories of faith, love, and adoption.  Day 6 is the story of Rachel, who waited 3 years for a heart.  Rachel got her heart and is living life to the fullest.  Jamie does a great job every year putting these together.  I promise these stories will move you.

    28 DAYS OF HEARTS

  • The First 30 Years

    Date: 2015.11.26 | Category: Uncategorized

    I had just turned 20 and you were 19 on the day we wed.  You were going to be an art teacher and I hoped to be the mother of two or three.

    Weddinge

    We were young and naive.  We figured we could handle anything that life threw our way.

    Little did we know how heartbreaking and tough life could really be.

    IMG_4225

    We survived 14 months in a hospital room with more complications than we even knew were possible.

    photo 4

    We were warned about the statistics of how many marriages failed after the death of a child.  We were warned about the stress on marriages after a prolonged hospitalization, but our faith and our love grew with every new curve life threw our way.

    We were so surprised when we found out we were expecting again.

    Dan & Lisa

    What a blessed surprise little Zachary has been.

    We had our three little boys and I was adamant we were done. But you kept saying wouldn’t having a little girl be so fun?  You reminded me of my dreams of having a daughter of my own.

    Family 2

    Once again you were right.  She’s added so much to our life.  A beautiful little girl both inside and out.  Our family was complete at least that is what we thought.

    You continued through medical school and residency and decided neonatalogy was the perfect fit.

    Our family was settled and the end of training was in sight.  15 years is a long time to to work to achieve your goals but you were almost done.  We used to joke about the light at the end of a tunnel finally being in sight and for once it wasn’t a train.

    But as fate would have it, one fateful night, our life was turned upside down as your heart broke for a little girl fighting for her life in the NICU.  She grabbed your heart and wouldn’t let go.   Most people told us it was crazy, it would tear apart our family, that we shouldn’t do this to our children, but we decided to take a chance.  We named her Hope because it meant trust and faith and on 6/29/99 she became our daughter for life.

    Adoption day

    She would need three surgeries but the surgeon convinced us it was worth a shot.  God had sent her to us so how could we not give her a chance at the life she deserved?  At the very least, she deserved a family and a name.  Everyone was on board to give her love for as many days as God would bless us with.

    She not only survived but she thrived and you finished your training and degree.  You took a job to be closer to family.

    We bought our first house with a couple of acres.  We started to feel settled in our new home.  Your job was going well and you had new opportunities to achieve your dream of making life better for babies.  You started applying your ideas to improve outcomes with clinical and quality improvement in the national company you were part of.

    DSM Register Pic

    About six years later, we decided to try again.  It seemed God was saying to have another child and we eagerly awaited the arrival of another little girl.  Life was good.  Then the unthinkable happened and she was delivered by emergency c-section.  By the grace of God she arrived as healthy as could be.  That is how she got her name Grace and what a blessing she would be.

    One of my favorite family pictures!

    One of my favorite family pictures!

    A few years later you would read a book that rocked you to the core.  Max Lucado’s book Outlive your Life.  He asked the question about what you would tell your children about what you did to help the millions of children starving and waiting for a family.  At the age of 44, you decided we should adopt.  We could help at least one child.  We could give them love and care for them.

    I, however, felt we were too old.  I worried about what the world would say.  I worried about too many things that truly didn’t matter.  Mary Beth Chapman would change my life with her book, Choosing to See, in which her daughter asks “Is it better for an orphan to have an older mother or no mother at all?”

    So even though we thought that our family was complete we decided to adopt.

    Family 4

    God lead us to China.  By fate and a friend we would find our agency, CCAI.  We filled out the forms and applied to adopt.  We checked off the boxes on our Medical Conditions Checklist about what we thought we could handle and were matched with a little girl almost immediately.  She was deaf.

    Cassie had begged to take an ASL class in college and now that made sense.  Cassie had almost completed her year which talked about deaf culture and she felt we could handle this so we said “yes!”.   God is most definitely in the details.

    Very first picture we saw of Maisey.

    A new policy had just gone into effect where you could adopt two if the second child had a more complex medical need.   We decided to proceed.  Hope asked to adopt a little boy with a heart condition like hers and we set off to find our little Tigger.

    Ben 11

    We took a chance on losing our hearts again.  We knew he was our son so we stepped out in obedience and faith and took a chance knowing he might not even live long enough for us to get to him.

    In the midst of the paper chase, Gracie got sick.  We couldn’t figure out what was going on.  She had been sick for weeks and just couldn’t get rid of this bug.  We went in to check for mono and left with the diagnosis “possible leukemia”.  We were sent to an oncologist for a bone marrow test.

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    It ended up being lupus with kidney nephritis.   Gracie endured chemo and more meds than any little girl should take.  We wondered how we could still adopt but Ben and Maisey were our children.  We could not leave them half a world away.

    It took a year of paperwork and waiting.  But the wait, though painful, was so worth it.

    China trip 2012 086

    We were blown away by these two little people who trusted us so quickly.  Their love for each other was so sweet.  They bonded with us immediately.  It couldn’t have gone better.

    We toured China.  We saw the Forbidden City. We walked the Great Wall.  We put a lock on the railing on the wall signifying our love could never be broken.

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    Then we walked into an orphanage and our hearts were forever changed looking at all the little faces that were waiting for a forever family.  I knew we’d never be the same.

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    David Platt was right.  “Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names.  They are easier to ignore before you see their faces.  It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms.  But once you do, everything changes.”

    Our lives were about to change in amazing ways.

    family 6

    I knew God was telling us that we needed to do more and you agreed.  We felt that God was saying to say four on our new home study.  We had no clue what that meant but our social worker agreed and we waited to be matched.

    The road to the next four was amazing.   Strangers couldn’t understand.  Even our family was unsure at first, but they had seen God in too many details to question it now.  We watched as God opened door after door to allow us to adopt four at once.  It was easy to see God was the one in control.  It was such an amazing journey that year.

    We had agreed to adopt two.

    Here is Lainey Rae named after her paternal grandfather and great grandfather. She will be 2 in December.

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    We were waiting for paperwork on Eli and our agency sent us another file.  To this day, I have no idea why.  I refused to look at it because I didn’t want to say “No” but you read the file and even though there were a 1,000 reasons to say no, you chose to say, “Why not?” and I will be forever grateful for this fact.

    Evie - we were told she is doing well and is very shy.

    We had preapproval for Lainey and Evangeline.  We were waiting for paperwork to be completed for Eli and I had no idea how any of this would work.  We assumed we would travel again to go get Eli.

    And then we saw her face….

    jasmine 3

    We asked for permission to add a third child and China said “Yes!”.  We were beyond ecstatic.

    As luck would have it or better yet as God had planned, six weeks before we traveled, Elijah’s paperwork was ready. We asked once again for special permission because of his heart defect and China agreed.  How this year had happened was a miracle with too many to list in just this one post.  We stood in awe of all that happened to allow us to travel to get our four children at once.   I will forever feel beyond blessed that God allowed us to take a part in this journey.

    Family

    Twelve children.  It had been a dream of mine when I was a little girl.  I had given up on that dream long ago but here I was the mother of 12.  What others thought was crazy I thought was a beautiful gift.

    Once again we said we were done, but Jasmine had other plans.  She begged and pleaded and Gracie chimed in.  We finally had to admit that she was right.  We could do more.  We could love more.

    That had been the most amazing thing on this unbelievable journey.  You wonder how could you love so many children.  Mainly you wondered because you believed as you love, you gave away a pieces of your heart but that isn’t the truth.  As you love, it multiplies.  There is always room to love more.  There is no set number.  There is no cap to the amount of love you can give.  Your heart contains an infinite amount of love and the more you share, the more you are able to give.

    Your heart was taken by the sweetest little face.

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    And we added Max to the mix.

    Max 2

    We traveled across the country for heart surgeries.  We watched blue fingers turn to pink.

    fingers 2

    We watched hearts heal both physical and emotionally.

    We watched our family bond and become friends.

    In just a few short years, we lost your dad, my mom, gramp gramps, aunt Kay, my grandpa (pop), Will and then your brother Rod.  Our hearts mourned for those we lost but we thanked God for the hope we will one day meet again.

    We truly believed our family was complete at 14.  14 means completion and perfection and it all happened in 2014.  I loved that fact.  It seemed a good place to stop our family, but the kids joked about us having 15 in 2015 and 16 in 2016.  They joked about even more and we laughed.  We told them at some point we had to be done adopting.

    Jasmine had a dream.  Her dream was a family for every child and we set out to advocate and support those who were adopting and those children who were waiting.

    Bracelet

    We decided to advocate.  We decided to try to help families stay together by supporting them with the surgery their child needs.  You and I joined a wonderful group of people who are trying to make the world a better place – one child at a time.

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    Our children have learned what it means to give from their hearts.  They have raised money and awareness.  They are truly changed.  They know what is truly important.  They have watched God provide over and over again.  They know the truth and their foundation is secure.

    We have had two weddings.

    family pic Zach & Steph's wedding

    We have changed a lot over the years but one thing has always remained true.  You are my best friend.  I am happy doing anything with you.  I am content to just be by your side.  Our life has been so much more than I could ever have imagined or dreamed.

    It’s about to change again because our children have big dreams.  They prayed and prayed and we finally agreed they were right.  In 2016 we will add two more.

    Jessica William

    I can’t believe this journey we’ve been so graciously allowed to go on but I thank God every day it is you I have been on it with.  Thank you for being obedient to God’s call even when it doesn’t make sense by earthly standards.

    We don’t take fancy trips or drive a fancy car.  In fact, we drive a 16 passenger bus with a wheelchair lift.  We will never have an empty home and it will be forever busy, but that’s ok.

    I pray that we have another 30 years together.  I pray that we are always obedient to His call.   I pray that we never take these blessings for granted and we forever remember that we are seriously blessed.

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    I love you sweetheart with all my heart.

    Family 7

  • 28 Days of Hearts

    Date: 2015.02.08 | Category: Uncategorized

    Today we share our story on 28 Days of Hearts.  Please take a look at the stories of beautiful children adopted from China with congenital heart disease.  Your heart will be moved.

    Hope, Benjamin, Evie and Elijah

     

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