Tuesday, April 22, 2014

96!!!

Beihai is a small beach town in Guangxi Province in southwestern China.
Yep, that's the final total for the shirt fundraiser...

We've sold 96 shirts/sweatshirts to raise money for Beihai Social Welfare Institute!!  I haven't had a chance to add up how much money that will be cause I still have to ship the shirts once they come in, but I think it's over $500 raised for the orphanage donation!!!

Thank you ALL who decided to buy a shirt and help an orphan like our sweet Laila!!!  You guys seriously rock!!!

We did purchase a few extra shirts, so when I get everything shipped out I'll post the leftover sizes & colors for anyone who never got a chance but would still like one.

THANK YOU for helping the children in this orphanage!!  And for those of you who requested to donate money rather than buying a shirt, we will have a website up soon that allows you to make a tax deductible donation.

Thanks for all your support,
Fannie, Matt, Katelynn, Chengbin, & Laila Jean

Monday, April 21, 2014

Amazing!!


About a month ago a fellow adoptive mom shared her heart and invited all her friends and family to participate in "Forget the Frock", an event that encourages people to focus on what they can do to help with that Easter money they would normally spend on fancy clothes for church.  Amy had designed a shirt for families to wear and all money raised from the sell of the shirts would go to one of five charities that the participants were allowed to vote on.

I LOVED this idea and jumped right on board, ordering shirts for our family to wear on Easter Sunday and voting for Love Without Boundaries, one of the amazing charities out of our hometown of Edmond, Oklahoma that is saving lives EVERY DAY in China! :)

The message of the shirt is one that our family truly believes.

"Change Starts With ONE" on the front... Oh how this message keeps playing out in our lives.

The back says:

 "Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do.
God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls knows that we know and holds us responsible to act."
Proverbs 24:12
 
Well, imagine my surprise when over a month later Amy posted the results of the fundraiser which included some very special information for our family.
 
She raised over $4000 which went to the winning charity, Love Without Boundaries.
And of that over $4000 that went to Love Without Boundaries, Laila's life saving transfusions until we can go to China to get her became fully funded!!!
 
That's right! Laila's account on Love Without Boundaries was posted on a Tuesday and by Friday morning over $1500 was given to them in support of her.  While Matt & I had figured we'd give it a few weeks and then pay whatever was left to help our girl, God supplied it all in only three days!!!
 
Oh the blessings that we are finding as we live this different life that focuses on him and what we can do to be his hands & feet in a world in need!!!
 
To be completely honest, only a few weeks ago I went into panic mode. 
Panic that we weren't making any progress in the adoption. 
Panic that Laila's condition is so severe and to be honest, even with these transfusions, she is still critical.  They just aren't often enough or provide enough blood volume to get her into a healthy range.
Panic that after looking at all the upcoming expenses that have to be paid in four months time, we are going to have to apply for every grant we can find and need some extremely successful fundraisers.
Panic that we won't get to her in time.
 
I didn't like that I was panicked and of course I want to trust God, but I am human, and the human in me just plain panicked as all these concerns hit me at once! 
 
Then God gave me a song as I tried out the new Steven Curtis Chapman song called "The Glorious Unfolding"...
 
There's so much of this story that's still left to unfold
This is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You've just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold onto every promise God has made to us
and watch this glorious unfolding!
 
What an amazing reminder of God's love and plan for us!
 
Then that Sunday in Church we had songs that I've never heard our worship team do before.  Three different songs that reminded me of God's love for the orphan.
On that following Tuesday, Love Without Boundaries set up Laila's fund. 
On that Friday, she was fully funded. 
 
Oh how God loves this little girl!!  He is just showing us over and over again!!!
 
I am so excited to be living this life and can't wait to see what God has planned for our family and our children!!  Laila Jean you are SO loved!!
 
Thanks for stopping by,
Fannie, Matt, Kate, Chengbin, & Laila Jean
 

 
 



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The story behind our girl...

The story behind our girl starts with a post back on November 3rd on my thal group.  For those of you who don't know, I have an amazing group of friends who have adopted kids with thalassemia like Chengbin.  Our group fiercely advocates for every child with thalassemia that comes up for adoption.
 
As an adoption advocate myself, I have ready many files and seen hundreds of children's faces.
All of them are children who deserve a family, who we work hard to find families for,
but when I saw this face something was different.  I raced to my email to request her file.  Not because I wanted to find her family, but because I thought we might be her family. 
 

 
I was given her file right away and was told to let the agency know if we wanted to place her on hold.
And then, I read her file.  And saw the pictures.
And re-read her file and re-looked at the pictures.
 
The information in the file didn't add up.  I wouldn't have known this if I didn't have a child who is thal major.  It said she didn't need transfusions, but everything in her file said otherwise.
Her hemoglobin was VERY low.  She was extremely anemic.
Her tummy was distended.  You see this in thal kids who aren't properly transfused.  Their spleen pulls out all those defective red blood cells and becomes enlarged.
And then there was her measurements.. This sweet little girl was the size of a 9-12 month old at 32 months old.
 
But how could the orphanage and doctors not know?  I questioned what I was reading and asked the ladies in my thal group.  All concurred, she was misdiagnosed and needed help NOW, before its too late!
 
I also remembered what a fellow thal mom had posted to her blog the day before I got this file.  It was statistics from her province.  Studies that showed mortality rates of children with thalassemia major.  These studies showed that almost ALL children with thal major die by age 5 in her province. 
I knew I had to DO SOMETHING, whatever it took to get her the help she needed!  So I talked to the adoption agency she was listed with and tried to fully convey the seriousness of her condition.  I contacted the thalassemia specialist that sees Chengbin for a full assessment of her condition.  My friends and I contacted NGOs in China trying to get her help.
 
I thought she was ours.
But Matt wasn't so sure yet.  He thought God had put me in this position to help her and thought there might be an older child out there waiting for us.  And that day she was placed on hold by a different family.  I prayed to God that he would help me to do what I could to help her find the right family for her.  Then I asked the agency to please give the family my contact info so I could help them navigate her file, since it could easily be misinterpreted by a doctor unfamiliar with thalassemia.
 
The first family contacted me.  They were smitten by this sweet girl and truly believed she was theirs. I reviewed the file with them.  Explained how each thing that seemed minor on its own added up to a very serious medical condition.  I gave them advice on who to contact for evaluation of her file and they requested more info from China.  They really wanted to be her family, but the update confirmed my suspicions.  She was thal major and needed transfusions.  Since it wasn't a condition that could be handled in their area, they released her file.
 
Then, I assume, another family received the file, reviewed it, and released it.  I never knew who this family was.  I kept asking the agency for updates though.  Could we hold her file?  Had any progress been made in getting her transfused?  Could we please put her on hold next?
 
I finally received an update from the agency saying the orphanage was getting her first transfusion.  I praised God for putting me in a position to help this precious girl.  The agency also said they would let me know when she became available to us.  I really, really thought she was ours and I really, really thought they understood that we were the perfect family for her.
 
They gave her file to another family, AGAIN, and by this time I was devastated for more than one reason.  First of all, this meant she STILL didn't have a family coming for her and I knew that she had no time to lose.  She needed a family rushing to get her!!  Her medical condition actually necessitates a family coming fast!!  I was also devastated because I loved her and wanted her to be our daughter.  Even though Matt had said no...
So I cried and grieved and prayed to God that his will be done.
A friend pointed me to the family who had put her file on hold.
 
I couldn't believe how perfect they were for her.  The husband works for Chengbin's thal specialist!  Two people had been trying to have this doctor review her file for months!  He walked the file right into her office for review!!  We finally had confirmation of everything I had seen in her file.  I really liked them and found myself rooting for them in spite of my sadness that I may not be her Mama...
They asked for an update from China and decided she wasn't there's before the update came.
 
And again, we weren't the family given her file.
 
We received a file for a 6 year old girl that I'd been praying for since the summer.  I knew her story.  Her story broke my heart.  And I felt God's urging to move forward.  In the next few weeks God made it very clear to me that it was time to adopt.  So I spoke my heart to Matt and he agreed that it was time.  Then he asked the question of all questions...
Was I sure she's the one we are supposed to adopt?
 
At this point I was just following God.  I couldn't see the path ahead, but knew we were supposed to start walking down the path.  So I told him that both of these girls needed families fast.  This is the door that had opened to our family while the other had remained closed.  While I still wanted that little girl I'd been fighting for, for many months, another family had her file, and God wanted us to move forward.  So if he really did mean for her to be ours, he would open  the door that had been closed for months.
 
That night I applied to the agency with the intent of adopting the 6 year old girl.  I prayed God's will over the adoption rather than trying to impose my own.  I emailed the caseworker the next morning and let her know that we had applied and planned to move forward with her, but inquired one more time about the status of the little one.
 
At 2:30 that afternoon I got the call.  She was available and if we wanted her, she was ours!
I almost screamed "yes!" right then and there, but told her I would talk to my husband and pray.
I sent a message to a thal mama who was next in line for the 6 year old girl and asked,
"Is she yours?  Will you go get her?"
Her response was "YES"
So then my husband came home from work that evening and told me we were going to get this little one.  So three months after I first saw her face and fell in love, I was finally given the chance to say yes to this precious little one!!  The day after Matt agreed to start the adoption and move forward with a child, God finally gave us the file we were to say "yes" to!!
 
So two girls are coming home this summer. 
Laila Jean Wilks is making her way to our family
and Betty June Dailey is making her way to the family meant for her.
 
God's plans are amazing!!!
I can't wait to see what he has in store for all of us. :)
 
And sweet Laila, you have NO idea how much you are already loved!!!!
 
Thanks for stopping by,
Fannie, Matt, Katie, Chengbin, & Laila
 
 
 


Monday, April 7, 2014

The Dark Side

Yep, I have unbelievable news...

Our son is obsessed with Star Wars and he has turned to the dark side. ;)

 

He thinks Darth Vader is unbelievably cool!! So for a special birthday treat we used up some more days on our Disney ticket and went to see Darth Vader and ride Star Tours. :)

 
He rode it three times in all & loved it everytime! He also got to watch the kids fight Darth Vader during the Jedi training sessions outside the ride.

 

Our last day we surprised him, allowing him to build his very own light saber.  He was so excited to make his own red light saber just like Darth Vader!  The excitement and absolute joy over this birthday gift was not lost on any of us.  In a Chinese orphanage of over 100 children, birthdays are not celebrated.  At almost 6 years old, this is the first gift he remembers ever getting.


 




A year ago I was ordering a care package & cake for his birthday.  We assume it is the first birthday cake he ever had and it was his 5th birthday.  Now he is home where he belongs and we are so excited to spoil him a little on his first birthday celebration ever!
 
Thanks for stopping by,
Fannie, Matt, Katie, & Chengbin