Shelly White and her husband didn’t think they would be able to adopt a child after they struggled through the recession. The family ended up trading in their large home for a small rental property while also draining their savings accounts. Yet, despite their doubts the family not only adopted, they chose a baby from China with stage-4 cancer.
Shelley and her husband already have four children, but their 10-year-old daughter, Ryan Elizabeth, begged her parents to adopt a child in need. Little Ryan Elizabeth learned about orphaned children after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and soon after offered her own money to help her parents adopt an orphan in need.
Speaking on the Today Show, White says of her daughters commitment to helping a child in need:
“I had a mother’s love for her right away. I can’t really explain it. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I couldn’t get her off my heart … She would cry at night, and I’d say, ‘Honey, we can pray for them. We said, ‘This is not something we can do right now because it costs a lot of money.’ And she’s like, ‘Here’s my piggy bank. Take it.’”
Ryan Elizabeth was so serious about adopting a child that she started asking for donations rather than toys for Christmas. Eventually, the little girl’s efforts led the family to Show Hope, an orphan advocacy group.
One day, the family received an email about a 1-year-old girl who was living in a Chinese orphanage with a cancerous tumor.
Shelly White and her growing family wanted to adopt the little girl to ensure she wouldn’t die alone if her condition worsened. However, the adoption would cost at least $20,000, and the family was already living in a three-bedroom, one-bathroom home with two young girls and two boys.
Eventually, all of the children got in on the constant requests to adopt the young girl. According to White:
“My 6-year-old said, ‘We have room in our hearts, Mom. I said, ‘We do. You’re right.’ We were responding with logic and they were responding with love.”
Eventually, the family decided against all financial odds to adopt little Mya. The family even struck a deal with Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, which offered to treat the little girl for free. Thanks to the free medical treatment, little Mya was able to receive an immediate one-year medical visa and traveled to the United States where the adoption process continued.
With Mya suffering from stage four cancer but safe in the United States, the family called on a church elder who helped them raise $18,000 in pledges to pay for the adoption. As it turns out, Kosair Children’s Hospital would play a bigger role in the little girl’s life than anyone would have expected. Scott Watkin, the man who helped raise the $18,000 in pledges, is also the vice president of operations for Norton Healthcare. Norton owns the hospital that is providing free medical services for Mya.
Doctors are now frantically fighting to save Mya’s life. The formerly orphaned girl from China is suffering from rhabdomyosarcoma, cancer of the connective tissue. Doctors have helped her tumor shrink “significantly,” and they say the prognosis is “pretty good.”
In the meantime, the White children now only fight over who gets to hold Mya, and the family is looking forward to a bright future with the child they adopted against all odds.