Saturday, August 23, 2014


A little over a year ago, he was an orphan.  Living in an orphanage.  Sick, alone, with so many people all around him yet no one he could call his own.  No one who could give him the one on one attention and the unfailing love that every child should have.

And a little over a year ago, she was an only child.  Our only child who desired a sibling more than anything else in the whole wide world.
A year ago, their two worlds collided.  She had always known love and has made every attempt to shower that little brother with love. 
With hugs.  With kisses.
And sometimes he thinks it's just too much love for him.  In fact, he rejects her outright sometimes, even a year later.  Because he was surrounded by kids that he called "sister" and "brother", but he wasn't allowed to hug or kiss any of them.  It seems odd to him, a little crazy even, that she would want to give him SO MANY hugs and kisses.
And time after time (but thankfully NOT always), he has rejected those hugs and kisses. 
Told her "no".  Pushed her away.  And she's been heartbroken...
But it NEVER stops her.  She loves BIG.  She forgives BIG. 
She understands and is patient, the best any 8 year old sister can be who waited all her life for a sibling.
I am beyond proud of the big sister she has become...
Their relationship is still a work in progress.  Sometimes I think maybe this is as good as it gets.
But then he grabs her hand in the car.  Or says "give me kiss here" and points at his cheek.
She LIGHTS up!!  It makes her day!!  And I think, maybe it is still a work in progress.
Either way, I am so grateful for the friendship these two have.  I pray that it grows and grows as they get older.  That they will always have each other to depend on.
And that little sister coming home soon?  She might just be a game changer for both of them.  I think they might all three draw closer to each other.
I can't wait to watch it all unfold...
We are SO blessed!
Thanks for stopping by,
Fannie, Matt, Kate, Chengbin, & (soon) Laila!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We're going to China SOON!!!!

It's REALLY HERE!!  We received that hard copy LOA on Friday and today sent it back to the agency so that they can send it back to China!!
So what's next?  That's what I'm ready to answer!!
The China process has many steps- but we are on the last few. 
1. Receive LOA from China- CHECK!!
2. Receive I-800 approval from USCIS- CHECK!!
3. Receive Visa approval from NVC- Any Day Now!!
4. Request issuance of Article 5 from US Consulate in China- Next week?
5. Issuance of Invitation to Travel from China- *hopefully* a few days after Art 5
We are hoping to travel to China in the 2nd or 3rd week of Sept!!!
How exciting is that???  Our little girl will soon be HOME!!!
And we are hoping you will all join us in one FINAL fundraiser to help meet the matching grant that Lifesong was so sweet to bless us with.  Our current Lifesong balance is $694.  We need to get to $2500 for them to write a check for $5000 to be sent to our agency.  Right now our final agency fees are $5508 so that would almost completely cover what's left!  Puzzle pieces are being sold to help raise the last bit we need to get that matching grant at $10 each.  Donation information & info about the Starfish puzzle is on the post just before this. :)
We HATE to keep asking for you guys to buy this raffle ticket & this shirt & blah, blah, blah but the truth is that it isn't for us and we need a little bit more help.  The amazing news is that her orphanage donation is now FULLY funded!!! Thank you all for that!!!
So, if you'd like to help in our final push to get fees paid, we'd be grateful!!
And if you can't help or don't feel led to, we would also gratefully accept prayers!  Prayers for Laila's health, for God's provision, and for safe travel...
Thanks so much!
Fannie, Matt, Kate, Chengbin, & Laila SOON!!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Approved & the story of a starfish :)

Yesterday we received our hard copy Letter of Approval from China!
(AND New Pictures thanks to Love Without Boundaries)

That means we are likely a month away from traveling to get Laila!!! AAAGGHHH!!!
We are SO excited!  As I sat at Chengbin's transfusion today playing with him it occurred to me that this is his last transfusion with Mommy by himself!  Next time it's my turn for transfusion day, Laila will be with us, FINALLY getting the large volume of blood she needs to get her hemoglobin raised up where it should be!  She's finally going to get all the medical care and love of a family that she deserves!!!  What an amazing thing adoption does to change the life of one child forever...

While we are extraordinarily excited that we have a month to go, it's also a bit overwhelming.  In spite of our best efforts to pay for the adoption all we can personally, fundraise, and apply for grants- we are short by $12,000 right now. 

We have been very blessed by all our friends and family who have made contributions, bought shirts, and raffle tickets and offered up their prayers to help this little girl on the other side of the world.

(Since we didn't get any takers on the camera, we've decided to donate it to a family that will be departing soon for their adoption.) 

And we'd like to announce our final adoption fundraiser!!

There's a story that goes something like this:

There's so much truth to this short story.  Today we are making the difference for this one, Sweet Laila Jean.  We are ALL making a difference for her, cause if you have offered to contribute or simply offered up a prayer to God on her behalf, then, YOU are part of changing her life too!!

So in honor of all of you who have already helped, and those who may still want to do more and do something for the first time we offer this...

Be a Piece of the Puzzle!  Help Save Her Life!! For those who have helped so far, a puzzle piece will have your name on the back.

We have been given a $2500 matching grant, but it only gets sent to the agency if we match that amount in donations!

We will be asking our friends, family, & even strangers to help bring Laila home by sponsoring a piece of the puzzle.  It will be a donation of $10 per piece and we will be writing your name on the back of the pieces you sponsor.  Once the puzzle is complete, we will be framing it in double sided glass and it will be hung in Laila & Katie's room.  When she is older she will be able to turn it over and we will talk to her about God's special plan for her life, and tell her how many people loved her, supported her, and even helped to pray her home.

Since the goal is to meet our matching grant amount, there's two ways to donate to Lifesong. 

1. Go the fast & easy way!  Make a tax deductible donation to our lifesong matching grant here.  Family name/code: Wilks/4622

2.  Go old school- especially good if your donation will be larger since there's no paypal fees this way.  If you would like to make a tax deductible donation with a check, ensure our Family Name/Code is in the memo section and you may send it to:
Lifesong for Orphans P.O. Box 40 Gridley, IL 61744

Next, please message me on Facebook or email me at to let me know how many puzzle pieces you'd like & the names for me to put on them!  I can't wait to start posting pics of puzzle pieces with names on the backs of them, showing love for our sweet girl!!

Thank you to EVERYONE who has been helping this little girl.  It's been said that it takes a village to raise a child.  We are so grateful for the VILLAGE OF SUPPORTERS happily answering the call to change our child's life!!!  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!

Fannie, Matt, Kate, Chengbin, & Laila

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"How much does it cost?" Well...

"How much does it cost?"

That's the question I got from an interested mother while sitting at Panda Express having lunch with my only-home-for-two-months son.  Her daughter had been battling infertility and had recently been considering adoption.  While I LOVED talking about adoption, advocating for kids, and increasing awareness of the millions of orphans in need of homes- THIS is the question I had already learned that I hate answering...

I responded, "Ummm around $30,000 when you add in everything including travel." Then that look came, the overwhelming look most of us would have when we know we don't have the amount you'd pay for a good car lying around in a bank account with no purpose for it... So I added, "I've seen friends fundraise almost that whole amount, though, you'd be amazed what God can do to help bring home one of his little ones."

Honestly though, I wasn't sure even I believed it was really possible for the average person to fundraise an adoption.  How could you ask friends and family for $30,000??? It seemed crazy and I really was far too proud to consider something like that.  We used up all our savings to bring home Chengbin and buy a house, so sitting at that Panda Express with a burden for the orphans of the world, I felt like a hypocrite even suggesting that fundraising was the answer.  After all, I already felt God calling us back and I didn't think I could do it.

Fast forward to November 3rd when I saw Laila's face and read her file...

That day in Panda Express God started softening my heart and my pride.  How could we not consider going to get her?  She would indeed not make it to her 5th Birthday in that province without a family and proper medical care.  Maybe not even to her 4th Birthday.

Still, our bank accounts did not have $30,000 readily available for an adoption.  My hubby was VERY quick to remind me of that.  He was also VERY OPPOSED to adopting if it meant asking people to help us.

Then I read this...

Amy wrote so beautifully about God's calling to all of us to care for the orphans.  I used her words so many times to discuss this possibility with Matt.  It truly changed my perspective on fundraising an adoption personally, and over time it did the same to him.

Especially since 3 months later Laila was still waiting.  Waiting for us to say yes and commit to whatever fundraising and grant applications would be necessary to bring her home.

So- How much does it cost?  I'm here to humbly spill the beans and lay it out there for ya.


Yep, there's no way around it.  Adopting Laila is expensive.  As we prepare to leave next week, our final total adoption costs are over $32,000.

At the beginning of our adoption, we paid $5,900 out of our own savings in agency fees, homestudy fees, USCIS fees, document authentications, visas, etc.  We also had our Adoption tax credit coming from last year's adoption & anticipated using it to pay additional money towards the adoption.  Now that we live in Alabama, we don't make nearly what we did up in NYC, so the extra cash flow just isn't there like it was before.  We knew that fundraising would be the ONLY way to bring her home.

Our amazing friends & family provided $4,700 more on our Adopt Together account.

T-Shirt Fundraisers via Booster/Custom Ink & raffle fundraiser payments on paypal have raised $1188 more.

Raffled off prizes netted an additional $948 towards our adoption.

To date we have received $2401 in our Lifesong matching grant account.  Lifesong wrote a check to our agency yesterday for $4,802.

We also recently received a $4000 grant from A Child Waits foundation to help cover our travel costs.

Total Adoption Funding so far: $21,588

And of that- $15,688 was provided via fundraising & grants!!!

Remaining Adoption Costs: $10,683

Our flights are booked. Hotel reservations made.  And we are STILL waiting on our Adoption Tax Credit to be paid to us.  This week we even involved our Congressman in our IRS issue, in hopes we will get it in time.  Even with this we are still short around $3,000.

God truly has helped us in tremendous ways to get Laila home and we know that he will provide the rest.  We don't know how he will provide it, we just know that 'The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.' 1 Thessalonians 5:24

We know so many have done so much to save Laila's life and we will forever be grateful.

If you feel led to donate to bring an orphan home to her forever family & the medical care that will save her life- the link is at the top of the blog.

Thank you so much!!
Fannie & Matt Wilks