Mother’s Day Wish

Flyer we handed out during the sale.

Beautiful banner at the front of the sale.

Many of our thoughts and conversations have included Leo recently.  We teamed up with an amazing family to raise funds to increase a grant for the family that adopts Leo and raise awareness of his need for a family.  Once again, MANY people we do not know stepped up to support this amazing little boy.  We had over 40 families donate items to be sold at the rummage sale and then TONS of people came to shop and donate money!  We even had one shopper donate the toys that were in her car when she found out we trying to raise funds to support an Leo’s adoption. The sale went even better than we anticipated and we have been able to increase the grant to $12,000!  There is so much LOVE and SUPPORT for Leo and we continue to be AMAZED at the kindness and generosity of so many that have never even met Leo.

He has touched so many hearts with his smile!  And this is why we are so deeply saddened by the fact that he still waits.  Leo is still waiting for a family to call his own.  This is a very difficult fact for us to face on this special day, Mother’s Day.  As we are celebrating our mothers today, we are reminded that Leo does not have a mother to celebrate.

And there is not a mother celebrating this day with Leo as her son.  But we feel strongly in our hearts that there is a match out there for Leo.  There is a family out there that is looking to add a sweet boy as their son.  A boy that loves to swing at the park, listen to music, dance, laugh, and give hugs and Leo is exactly that boy.  We just need to find that family and SOON!  Leo has less than a year before he ages out and is no longer eligible to be adopted, so his time is running out.  It is very important that the family that pursues the adoption of Leo is eligible to adopt by China’s standards.  We have had some families inquire about Leo and wish to pursue adoption only to be disappointed when they realize they did not meet the eligibility requirements, so we would recommend that you contact an agency to be sure you qualify before starting the process.  Great Wall China Adoption is the agency that we worked with to host Leo and they have great resources if you don’t have your own agency already.  Our Mother’s Day wish is that Leo will celebrate the next Mother’s Day with his mother!  Can you help us make this wish come true?  Share his story.  Pray for Leo. Or maybe Leo’s smile has touched your heart and you are ready to call him son.  Feel free to contact us via email at extraend@gmail.com or send us a message on his FaceBook page.

 

Join Team Leo

It has been difficult to think of things to write about Leo since he has been gone.  We don’t receive regular updates about him.  In fact,the one picture we shared with you months ago is all that we have gotten so far.  Therefore, we feel we don’t

Leo16_6307have anything new to share.  What do you say that hasn’t already been said? This leaves us with little inspiration for writing.  However, we were recently approached by two wonderful woman who are as passionate about finding Leo’s family as we are and they have committed to helping us increase the advocacy for Leo.  They have ignited the spark in us again and we are hoping to pass along that excitement to the rest of you and spread his story even more than before.  They inspired us to create Team Leo. Will you help us?

At thehands in face height of Leo’s visit, we had over 2,000 people reading this blog!  We had over 10,000 people see what we would post on Facebook through his page which has nearly 500 followers!  These statistics melt our heart and bring tears to our eyes.  There were so many rooting for Leo’s story to change and for his family to find him.  We are certain those of you that were rooting for Leo over the summer would still be willing to help us get the word out now.  We want to SHATTER those previous statistics. So we are PLEADING with you now.  PLEASE take a moment and SHARE his story AGAIN and AGAIN. Can you be an advocate for this sweet boy?  Can you take a moment and share his story on your blog? On your Facebook page? In an email? Can you ask others to share?  Join Team Leo!  We are a team of people committed to sharing Leo’s story until his family is found. Our vision is simple and the outcome of our work will be powerful.

In the coming weeks, we are going to be sharing some of the posts that we wrote in the summer as they are full of great information about Leo.  And we are going to try to contact the orphanage for an update.  Again, we ask that you share as we share. Leo needs us more than ever.  Leo needs you more than ever.  Agreeing to join Team Leo means you are willing to share our blog and/or posts and pray for Leo.  And together we will change the world for Leo.

If you or someone you know is interested in knowing more about Leo, please contact us via email at extraend@gmail.com or through his Facebook page.

 

Leo Still Needs a Family

Happy New Year to all the Leo supporters who have been following his story! Currently there is a group of orphans being hosted in the US through the same program that allowed Leo to be with us in the summer. It has been so exciting to watch these families get to know these orphans and share their stories in hopes of changing their life.  We have been rejoicing when an adoptive family steps forward and we learn that a child will now have a family.  But it is also difficult news for us as we Leo16_6213continue to hope and pray that the same fortune will happen for Leo.  We are trying to stay positive, but each day Leo is getting closer to aging out of the orphanage.  It’s not fair, just because Leo was born with PKU to a family that was unable to care for him, he is sitting in an institution.  He has a gentle, loving soul who yearns for connection.  A connection that doesn’t happen in an institution.  We so, so want Leo to have a family.  Our hearts ache for him.   He needs love, hope, a family to believe in him and show him how to live a healthy life that addresses his PKU positively, and hugs.  He loves hugs.  He definitely needs hugs.  We know that if Leo was a son in a family in the US, he would have access to these necessities and more.  We need to continue to pray for a family for Leo and we are asking for you to do the same.  We are not giving up hope, we can’t.  Leo needs us to find his family because no one else is.  Please continue to share his story  and pray and make this new year the year Leo becomes a son.  If you want more information about Leo, please contact us through this blog or our Facebook page.

The Ripple Effect

When our family decided to host Leo, a 12 year old orphan from China, we had one goal.  There was no doubt we wanted to connect Leo with his forever family and we are still working on making that happen.  For many potential adopting families, Leo was just

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another file that they would look through and set aside, but we wanted more.  We wanted his story to come alive, so we have been sharing stories of our time with Leo with anyone and everyone that will listen.  His story has touched hundreds.  We have had posts that have been seen by thousands.  Leo’s sweet smile has touched hearts through Facebook sharing.  But Leo continues to live in his orphanage and wait along with hundreds of other children who are waiting.  Though this is not what we want for him, we are not giving up.  Due to our time with Leo, another orphan is being given the same chance that Leo has been blessed with.

A family new to hosting  has stepped forward to host an orphan this winter!  We don’t know this family and they don’t know us, but through this blog and our posts on Facebook, the family followed Leo’s story and has been moved to create an adventure of their own.  They will be hosting an orphan that has been waiting for a forever family.  As a host family, they can choose to host with the intention of adopting or they can host like

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we did and advocate for the child and try to connect them with their forever family.  Either way, they will be making a difference in the life of that child.  Leo was so brave to come to an entirely different country and stay with complete strangers (us!) and now his adventure has touched another family to become heroes for another orphan that would otherwise not have a voice.  This warms our hearts.  Thank you to all of those of you that have passed along Leo’s story to help make this ripple.  Please continue to share so we can make waves!

Right now Great Wall China Adoption is looking for families to host orphans for their winter hosting program.  You can find out more about the hosting program through this website or contact us and we would be happy to answer your questions.  There will also be opportunities to host in the summer if winter won’t work for you.

 

Look What We Found

Lately I have been at a loss as to what to share about Leo.

He does NOT have a family, still. That is hard. Very hard.  And this fact makes it difficult to feel motivated and positive, just being honest.

I feel like we have shared everything that we know about him and answered all of the questions that we have been asked about him, yet a Leo is still without a family.  Leo’s age

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seems to be his biggest obstacle as most of the families that have shown interest in Leo feel giving him a special diet is a need they can meet.  However, there is a lot of uncertainty that is present in adopting an older child and there is no way to predict his future.  This is an interesting conundrum.  Though it is true, it is also true of adopting or giving birth to any child.  Raising children is hard no matter what the child’s journey has been. Regardless of his journey to this point, Leo deserves a family and that has been our focus.

This week Leo has been in our conversations and thoughts often and apparently Leo is being thought of by others as well.  We have had likes on his FaceBook page, someone left us a message there wondering if there is an update, and his page has been shared after some time of little to no activity.  Then this morning others placed his sweet face on a post

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hoping to connect Leo to his family.  I am always so touched and impressed with what an amazing support system Leo’s story has created.  Leo has brought together complete strangers to advocate and support him through the hosting process and search for a family, but also many who want to support him and his family for much longer.  This motivates me to keep putting Leo’s story out there!

So I sat down with the computer knowing I needed to post something and I got as far as my first 7 words and my oldest said, “Hey mom, look!  Leo took selfies on my Ipod!”  No kidding!  He didn’t know what I was doing on the computer and he hasn’t picked up that Ipod in months. Sometimes things just fall into place.  This is what we are hoping for Leo, so we continue to share his story and pictures!!

 

Though the photos are not great, (he needs a lesson on lighting!)  we just had to share a few.  They remind us how Leo is a typical boy.  Making faces at himself on the Ipod and snapping away!  Of course, there are silly ones, we giggled at the ones with his mouth open, and there are more serious ones.

selfie-1

The best lit selfie, but doesn’t show his personality well.

We even found some videos, but discovered he must have thought he was taking more pictures as there is no talking or moving on his part.  It was such a nice discovery for us this morning and reminded us of all the joy and smiles we shared with Leo during his time here.  It also reminds us that we need to continue to work to find his forever family and we are asking you to share his story to help Leo’s family find him.

For those who are new to Leo’s story, below is a short summary.  You can read the other posts in our blog to find out more or contact us!

Leo is 12 years old.  He has been diagnosed with PKU, a disorder that means his body can’t digest protein like the rest of us and he needs to be on a special diet.  He lives in an orphanage in China as he waits for a family to adopt him.  Though he has been in the orphanage since about age 3, he can only be in the orphanage until his 14th birthday, so there is only a short time left for Leo to be adopted. If he turns 14, he will be considered unadoptable and will move out of the orphanage into uncertainty.

If you think you are the forever family for Leo or you have questions, please contact Meredith Chambers at meredith@gwca.org or 512.323.9595 ext. 3032.  There is also great information at the Great Wall China Adoption website.  We are 100% committed to advocating for Leo, and also welcome all your questions in the comments, message us on Facebook or email us at extraend@gmail.com!

 

Renewing Hope

If you have been following Leo’s story from the beginning, you may know that I am a teacher.  You may also remember that we were not prepared to host an orphan in the summer of 2016, our initial plan was to host in 2017.  But the opportunity to host Leo leo on carouselpresented itself, and we decided to say yes.  We have been blessed in so many ways through this hosting experience and would highly recommend hosting to others if they are interested.  We began our experience focusing on changing the life of one boy, Leo.  And before we knew it, our lives changed because of Leo.  He is forever a part of our hearts and often in our thoughts.

At times, my thoughts just randomly wander to thinking about Leo.  I think I hear his giggle, then I see his smile, or remember the feel of a hug.  I often wonder if he is ever thinking about us.  I pray he is feeling loved daily like he did here.

At other times, it feels like purposeful work of God.  Today was one of those days. Day 2 of a new school year for me.  I don’t really know my students yet and they don’t know me, so in an effort to introduce myself to my new 6th grade students, I write a story about myself so they get to know me a bit.  This time I included that we hosted Leo and I shared the

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story with the classes.  There was not much information.  I just included that he was 12, an orphan from China, and that we were trying to find a family to adopt him.

In one class, after I read the story, a boy raised his hand and said, “What does it mean hosting and what is an orphan?”  Great question, I thought, 6th graders may not know these things and I hadn’t even thought of that when I wrote my story.  So I gave a brief explanation including the fact that he does not have parents, so needs to be adopted and currently lives in an orphanage with other children in the same situation.  Then a girl’s hand went up. When I called on her she explained that sometimes your parents can’t take care of you so they give you to an orphanage.  Then she said, “Like me. I lived in a orphanage for 10 years.” And another voice from the back said, “Me, too.  But for not as long.  Just until I was 12 months old, then I was adopted.”  I have over 100 students each and every year.  I know that some have been adopted, but I rarely hear their stories. This interaction took me by surprise to say the least.  But more importantly, it renewed my hope for Leo.  I will be honest, it has been hard knowing he is back in China and that we have not found his forever family yet.  Each day that passes, it is a bit harder because I know that we are closer to his 14th birthday and at that time he would be deemed ineligible to be adopted.  But today, my thoughts were more positive.  Both of these students found forever families and there is no reason we can’t find Leo’s forever family. I thought about the fact that he too could be starting school at the

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beginning of a new school year in America, meeting new teachers and friends, and being a part of a family.  Leo still has a chance to be loved unconditionally. He still has a chance to be a son.  To laugh and dance in the living room of his home. To play at the playground where he loves to swing and giggle when it tickles his tummy.  There is still time to change Leo’s story.

If you think you are the forever family for Leo or you have questions, please contact Meredith Chambers at meredith@gwca.org or 512.323.9595 ext. 3032.  There is also great information at the Great Wall China Adoption website.  We are 100% committed to advocating for Leo, and also welcome all your questions in the comments, message us on Facebook or email us at extraend@gmail.com!

And if you missed it, we have created a fundraising campaign to help support Leo’s forever family through Pure Charity.  All donations are tax deductible.  We are
so grateful for all of the love and support that we have felt for Leo through his hosting experience and we wanted that to continue onto his forever family.  We felt strongly that this would be a great place to start and we hope you can help!

PS:  Be sure to check out our Facebook page about Leo as well to see videos of Leo.

Back to School

We have come upon back to school time across America.  A time when kids go through a wide variety of emotions as they return to their schools for another year of learning.  It is typical for students to be nervous, excited, sad, unsure, confident and intimidated just to

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name a few.  It is also just as typical for parents to be going through an emotional time.  Our family is no exception.

As we have been going through the “get ready for school again” routine, our thoughts have taken us to Leo.  My boys have wondered if Leo is going through some of the same rituals. Sadly, I don’t think so has been my answer.  First, Leo does not have parents that are trying to make sure he is prepared with the necessary tools and supplies to ensure he has a successful year at school. So, no, he is not school supply shopping.  Second, Leo lives in a different country that views education differently than what we do in America.  In China, education is a privilege.  And each school does not provide the same quality of education.  So, though Leo does go to school, it is likely that his school is not what we think of when we think of school.  Because Leo is an orphan he does not have the privilege of going to the highest quality schools that China has to offer.

But maybe Leo is going back to his school around now.  And maybe he is going through some of the same emotions as kids do here.  But he doesn’t have parents telling him that those emotions are typical and that things are going to be ok.  He doesn’t have parents there to give him a hug in a time of uncertainty.   We are trying to change Leo’s story!  This sweet boy deserves the unconditional love of a family and he is ready to love unconditionally.  His bright smile is ready to be shared with a family and new friends.

Great Wall China Adoption was granted an extension with Leo’s file until September 25

 

So there is still a significant grant at GWCA to be used towards the adoption of Leo!!  We need his story to continue to spread as this is the only way his forever family is

Leo16_6410going to be found. Please share this blog, like our Facebook page and don’t let Leo be forgotten.

If you think you are the forever family for Leo or you have questions, please contact Meredith Chambers at meredith@gwca.org or 512.323.9595 ext. 3032.  There is also great information at the Great Wall China Adoption website.  We are 100% committed to advocating for Leo, and also welcome all your questions in the comments, message us on Facebook or email us at extraend@gmail.com!

And if you missed it, we have created a fundraising campaign to help support Leo’s forever family through Pure Charity.  All donations are tax deductible.  We are
so grateful for all of the love and support that we have felt for Leo through his hosting experience and we wanted that to continue onto his forever family.  We felt strongly that this would be a great place to start and we hope you can help!

PS:  Be sure to check out our Facebook page about Leo as well to see videos of Leo.