SALISBURY, Md. (AP) — Kateri Lambrose was sure there was something special she could do to help cover the expenses of adopting a Chinese child.
The answer was found in a cake. Well, hundreds of cakes.
“My husband, Dave, and I have two biological children of our own, Troy and Kyrsten, and we were watching ‘Home for the Holidays’ in December 2004. We wanted our children to see how blessed they were by having an intact family. Both asked us why we, as a family, couldn’t adopt a child, as seen in the program,” Lambrose said. “We didn’t have an answer, and that got me started researching to find out how we could make an international adoption.”
The couple, members of Church of the Nazarene in Laurel, Del., prayed for guidance. They considered adopting from Africa, but settled on China, based on a spiritual calling.
Because the preference in Chinese society is for a male baby and the mandated one child per couple state policy, female babies make up the greatest number of children in orphanages. Children with special needs are also more likely to be placed in orphanages. The Lambroses soon learned there were also two distinct categories of children available for adoption, those with and without special needs. By March 2005, they signed up for a nonspecial-needs child, up to a year old.
With the decision made, fundraising started.
Lambrose works at Pinehurst Elementary School in Salisbury as an occupational therapy service provider for 3- to 12-year-olds. In the beginning of the adoption process, she was working at the school full-time, but had summers off.
“My husband was in construction at the time. We knew we had funds coming in from his job, but the housing market put a stop to that. Now, he works at Sherwood Automotive Group in sales. I knew I wanted to contribute to this project, to help financially. One ‘hobby’ I had was baking cakes for friends, family and events, and some people suggested I start selling them. It was all word of mouth as a fundraiser to bring a baby home. Carrot cake, chocolate candy bar cake, coconut and my version of the Southern ‘pea pickin’ cake — mandarin fluff. They are basic cakes, but I have tweaked them to make them my own,” she said. “And they are all made from scratch.”
Each cake sold for $30 and the orders came in by the hundreds. She doesn’t have an exact cake count, but knows she used more than 300 cardboard boxes in which the finished cakes were placed.
The financial burden of bringing a child home, through international adoption, is expensive — $20,000 to $30,000.
“You don’t ‘pay’ for a child. That’s just the cost of the legal process,” she said.
They started the paperwork in 2006 to adopt, assured the process would be no longer than a year. Yet it was going to be a longer wait.
“It was then that I had a calling to look at special needs children,” she said. “We needed to consider children with mild special needs.” Paperwork for a special-needs child was filed.
By early December 2007, the two got another list, with eligible special-needs children.
“When I saw the face of this little girl, it was one of those moments that I knew this was the child for us. If you have faith, you ‘know when you know.’ I was being told there was something special about that child,” she said. “She was no different than all the other cute children, but there was something about that picture that drew me to her. Oh, she just touched my heart immediately.”
The 14-month-old girl was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. Operations had been done on the lip to repair it.
She started making inquiries. Yet the little girl in the photo was tentatively placed with another couple and the Lambroses weren’t even on the list to adopt a special-needs child.
“My mind said, ‘Let her go,’ but my heart wouldn’t. I prayed over her,” she said. “The paperwork to be on the list arrived Christmas Eve 2007.”
Christmas Day, Lambrose filled out the paperwork. And then, a miracle from the placing agency happened Dec. 26. The child was available and as soon as the paperwork was received, the process to adopt could begin.
By April 8, 2008, the Lambroses, along with Kyrsten, were on their way to China to bring their new baby home.
Her Chinese name was Ning Fu Chang (”’She who grows up to be a beautiful and blessed person who lives a better life,’” said Lambrose.) Now, she is Alayna Fu Chang Lambrose and became an instant American citizen when the jet carrying them touched down at Washington Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.
“You go into this thinking you’re going to bless this child, and give them a family they deserve. In reality, it’s the opposite. She has blessed our family so much,” she said. “I cannot imagine our lives without her. It’s incomprehensible.”
Information from: The Daily Times of Salisbury, Md., http://www.delmarvanow.com/
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)