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20 Years of Hope: Dani and Margaret

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In 2006, our China director visited a small orphanage in central China. It was a small institution that was just beginning to do adoptions, and conditions were quite stark. LWB supporters helped build a safe water system, purchased badly-needed supplies like new cribs, blankets, and toys, and began a nutrition project as many of the children were undernourished. It was on that first visit that we met a nearly three-year-old girl named Ella (as we called her then).

Little girl eating a rice cake snack in a striped sweater

LWB had already seen great improvements in the well-being of orphaned children who were able to be moved into family-based care, so in 2006 we expanded our foster care program to that small orphanage. One of the children we moved into foster care in 2007 was Ella. She settled in quickly with her family, who told us that little Ella was both tender and mischievous. Her playful personality shone through in her photos throughout her time with this family.  

Little girl on a playground in China

Ella had an eye condition which required a corneal transplant. A group of wonderful supporters raised funds for the operation that LWB arranged in a provincial eye hospital. Surgery was a success, and little Ella continued to thrive under the care of her loving foster family.

Little girl in China wearing a red jacket

Ella remained in our foster care program from 2007 through 2013. While in our care, she had her first opportunity to attend a local school and took wholeheartedly to her education. Every day, she woke up early to make sure she wouldn’t be late to school. She was very bright and often received praise from her teachers. Over the holidays, Ella would count the days down until she could return to class.

Little girl wearing a tie dye dress in front of red flowers

Not long after our China director’s original visit to Ella’s orphanage, an American family adopted a little girl named Margaret from that very same institution. When this child joined her forever family in 2007, the orphanage gave her parents a disposable camera containing photos of Margaret’s early life. Included in these photos was a picture of Margaret next to a little pixie of a girl wearing a green jacket. The family had no idea who the girl was, but they hoped and prayed that she was doing well wherever she might be.

Two little girls holding toys in a Chinese orphanage

The Red Thread Connecting Dani and Margaret

An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet, regardless of time, place, or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle, but will never break. –Ancient Chinese proverb.

This proverb has great significance to many families who adopted children from China. Margaret’s mother, Mary, explains how the red thread relates to their beautiful family:

Two years after Margaret’s adoption, in the spring of 2009, I discovered Love Without Boundaries and the work they were doing in Margaret’s orphanage. I soon learned that Margaret had spent three months in the care of an LWB foster family before her adoption. Right away I made the decision to start supporting LWB as a monthly sponsor. I pulled up the sponsorship website and there was the little girl from the disposable camera photos. LWB called her Ella.

Little girl in a red puffy jacket holding a book

We sponsored her immediately. Within months, I had been accepted as an LWB volunteer and started working in that foster care program, a position I am honored to hold to this day.

As a family, we watched Ella grow up in monthly reports and pictures, always with the hope that someday she’d get a family of her own. In the early summer of 2012, I received a message telling me that Ella’s adoption file was about to be released.

Girl in a pink shirt standing in a green field

We read through her file and found even more instances of where her life’s journey and red thread were intertwined with Margaret’s when they were together in the orphanage. We knew that that same red thread had led us to find her again through LWB, and it would weave her into our family through adoption.

Below is the beautiful announcement that Mary shared with us when they learned that Ella would become part of their family. A joyous Margaret did a splendid job of showcasing the family’s enthusiasm!

National Adoption Month photo about family

Back to Mary’s narrative:

A year later, in July 2013, Ella became a member of our family and soon after told us her name would be Dani.

Two girls riding piggyback near a lake

As we near the 10th anniversary of Dani’s adoption, this story — our family story — still amazes me. I wrote this passage in the summer of 2012 and still believe every word of it today:

“As I write this story down and look at it from above as a big picture, I can see all of our paths clearly, shining like bright gold. It is beautiful and has come together perfectly. I don’t believe in luck, or coincidences. There’s a higher power at work here, and we are incredibly blessed.

Today, the girls are finishing up their senior year of high school and are looking forward to attending college next year. As sisters and friends, they will go together, tied tightly by that red thread.

Two girls standing by a lake in the snow

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