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Determined To Bring Home A Dying Orphan

Shelly White vividly remembers the first time she laid eyes on the 18-month-old Chinese orphan named Mya. The little girl was featured on the Show Hope orphan care website in March 2013.

Shelly says, “I was showing everyone her picture and I was thinking, ‘Gosh, this girl is so precious and she needs a home.’  And I just longed to help her.”

But Mya needed more than a home.

“It said she had Stage IV cancer and she needed healing and a forever home,” says Shelly. “So we prayed for that.”
At the time, adoption wasn’t on the radar for Shelly or her husband, Hal.  They already had four children of their own, and were having a rough time financially.    

Shelly’s husband Hal says, “I’d always kind of thought adoption was maybe for people who couldn’t have children, you know, maybe weren’t blessed with a big family like God had already blessed us.”

But Shelly couldn’t get Mya off her mind.  

“I think I had this deep love for her right away,” she says. “It was something I had never experienced.”

So they prayed about it every day.  And soon sensed God leading them to adopt little Mya.  A week into the process, they learned there was a problem.

Shelly remembers, “We got a call from the agency saying that they had some bad news for us - that she was unadoptable.  ‘What do you mean she’s not adoptable?’  So they explained that it would take seven to nine months at quickest.  And they didn’t feel she would live that long.”

The Chinese agency told them their only option was to bring Mya to the U.S. for better treatment as her medical guardians. That’s when they met Dr. Stephen Wright of Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, KY.       

Dr. Stephen Wright recalls, “The first thing I thought was, ‘Yeah, we just need to get her over here. Let’s do it.’”  

Dr. Wright, the hospital, and several other doctors agreed to donate their services.  Still, there were no guarantees.
Dr. Wright says, “And we wanted them to be sure up front that they knew that it was going to be a long and sometimes arduous course that Mya might have to go through.”

Mya arrived in the U.S. on May 7, 2013.  She spent most of the next ten months in the hospital, undergoing aggressive chemotherapy to shrink the large abdominal tumor.

Shelly says, “The hardest part was when she was in so much pain.  She was in unbearable pain.  She would cry and scream and sweat multiple times a day.  It was awful.”

Hal says, “Every time I felt really, really hopeless or really, really down, there would be something at exactly the right time. I would get a text from a friend that says, ‘I’m praying for you.’”

But the tumor didn’t respond, and two days after Christmas 2013, doctors had to stop the treatments.

“It was devastating,” Hal says. “They said that there was nothing further that they could do.  And that she had less than a year to live.”

Doctors decided to remove the tumor to make little Mya more comfortable.    

Shelly remembers,  “We were told, ‘We will take this out and the cancer will likely come back.  But at least she’ll have some good pain-free time.’”  

Mya’s primary surgeon, Dr. Mary Fallat, explained that they had to remove other organs affected by the tumor.  
Dr. Mary Fallat says, “You know, this sort of thing, you’re going for broke.  And we knew that the tumor was just in the pelvis and not in the lungs or the brain or anywhere else, and this is otherwise a normal child.  And so what this required was removing the bladder, the uterus, the vagina and the rectum.”

Shelly says, “And I really just had to change my thinking that my hope couldn’t be in her healing, my hope just had to be that God had us all in His hands and it was going to be okay no matter what happened.”

Hal says, “Throughout this journey, I think the one thing - you obviously know that we’re not in control. God is in control and God has a plan.”

That plan exceeded all expectations.  Mya not only lived another year, she remained cancer free, making her once again “adoptable.”  In April 2015, Mya officially became a part of the White family.

“Oh, it was really neat,” says Shelly. “I got to see where she lived, and where she was found.”  

Mya’s been cancer-free for more than two years now and is doing great.  Her doctors are hopeful for many more.  

Dr. Fallat says, “I mean, there’s always complications that can occur. So I think—I’d like to think we had a homerun here.”

As for her new family, they’ve all learned to trust God no matter how bleak things may look.  
“You know, I first considered it an act of obedience to God,” says Hal. “But what I didn’t know is how much that obedience would bless me, and the joy that I would get from that obedience.”

Dr. Wright says, “And I’ll tell you, the family is an unbelievable example of Christian love.  And it’s a really challenge to the rest of us to step up to the plate.”

“It’s just deepened our faith,” says Shelly. “I think sometimes you kind of get sidetracked by grades and sports and you want them to be a lot of things.  But now it’s just really - none of it matters.  I just want to raise her to be a girl that knows God and that trusts Him.”

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