U.S. Soldier Adopts a Disabled Iraqi Boy

This is an amazing story of God stirring a U.S. soldier’s heart to adopt a boy with cerebral palsy from Iraq:
Click here to read the article.

Here are some quotes from the story:

Southworth prayed and talked with family and friends. His mother, who had cared for many disabled children, explained the difficulty. She also told him to take one step at a time and let God work. Southworth’s decision was cemented in spring 2004, while he and his comrades watched Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ.” Jesus Christ’s sacrifice moved him. He imagined meeting Christ and Ala’a in heaven, where Ala’a asked: “Baba, why didn’t you ever come back to get me?”

He had no wife or home; he knew nothing of raising a disabled child; he had little money and planned to run for district attorney in his home county. Just as important, Iraqi law prohibits foreigners from adopting Iraqi children. 

Everything seemed to be in place. But when Southworth contacted an immigration attorney, he was told it would be nearly impossible to bring Ala’a to the United States.

Police found Ala’a abandoned on a Baghdad street at around 3 years old. No one knows where he came from. “We crossed political boundaries. We crossed religious boundaries. There was just a massive effort — all on behalf of this little boy who desperately needed people to actually take some action and not just feel sorry for him,” Southworth said.

He mailed the packet on Dec. 16, 2004, to the Department of Homeland Security. On New Year’s Eve, his cell phone rang. It was Ala’a. “What are you doing?” Scott asked him. “I was praying,'” Ala’a responded. “Well, what were you praying for?” “I prayed that you would come to take me to America,” Ala’a said. Southworth almost dropped the phone. Ala’a knew nothing of his efforts, and he couldn’t tell him yet for fear that the boy might inadvertently tell the wrong person, upending the delicate process.

But Ala’a — who picked out his own name, which means to be near God — knows he’s where he belongs. Southworth always said Ala’a picked him, not the other way around. They were brought together, Southworth believes, by a “web of miracles.”

Update 12/29/07

Just a quick update since we haven’t posted for a while. We are still waiting for our LOA, which is a letter that China sends asking us if we are still planning to adopt Li Hao. We will say yes, send it back, and then around 2 weeks later we will receive our TA, which is our final travel approval. Then we will leave 2 weeks after receiving our travel approval.

It’s difficult to wait, and we are very thankful for the holiday season that has seemed to speed things up a little bit! But we are getting anxious! We just want to hold her in our arms and have her with us! Pray for patience as we wait for our LOA!

Our agency has said that our LOA could be here any day now. There is really no way to predict though, as everyone has a different timetable that depends on how fast the paperwork is processed from the particular region the child is from in China. But considering averages it could literally come any day now!!!!

We are still raising the money to bring home Li Hao, and for just me (Kim) to travel to China alone we still need $6000. We have an incredible window of opportunity from Life International where they will match any money donated between now and January 18th, up to $3000! All donations are made to Life International, and are tax deductible. If you are in the position to help, please consider donating to help bring home our little Hope! No donation is too small, and every dollar given will be matched! You can mail your check to Life International, and put ‘Todd Phillips Family Adoption’ in the subject line.

Here is the address:
Life International
PO BOX 40 202 N. Ford Street
Gridley, Illinois 61744

Another email from Bethel about Hope

We got another email from our wonderful friend who is volunteering at Bethel this morning. We are so grateful for the extra attention she is giving Hope! Kim had asked her about how Hope does with stairs and here is some of the response:

“She’s used to a lot of stairs everywhere she goes at Bethel. Blind kids are amazing and can adapt to anywhere so no worries at all about that. 🙂 She’ll amaze you as she grows up. She’ll be able to do almost everything a sighted kid can do. At the blind school where I am from we take the kids skiing, they ride bikes, roller skate, high schoolers go to the mall and coffee shops by themselves and everything. So don’t worry about blind proofing or anything-just normal toddler stuff. Maybe use gates at the stairs until she gets the hang of where things are and you get the hang of how adventurous she is to head down the stairs on her own. 🙂

I fed her dinner tonight. She was sitting in her high chair wailing-I don’t know why. But calmed down when I talked to her and gave her the rest of her dinner. She started whimpering when she was done and drinking her bottle (she is still using a bottle) and I just stroked her head and she calmed right down. She’s very consolable with affection. I wish I could have more time with her because I really think that’s what she’s needing. But soon it will be her Mama and Daddy!

I forgot to answer your question last time. I really don’t think she understands that she is getting a family. I don’t think she’d really understand even if she could see pictures of you because of her communication level at this point. I’m glad she’s hearing your voice so that when you come she will have a sense of familiarity. I did notice she does follow verbal cues well. I remember you asking about that before. Ayis will say something about a walk and she’ll nod or they’ll tell her to sit down and she will.

So that’s your baby update. I really think she’s going to bond super fast and soak up all the attention. She’s really friendly with anyone who shows her affection, so I’m sure she won’t be scared or upset or anything on meeting you. It’s gonna be so fun!!!! I sure hope I’m around when the time comes!”

Encouraging Words

Kimberly told me that “Jeremiah 29:11” popped in her head yesterday, and so she looked it up and read it to us and we all found encouragement:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)


Also, Jonathan had a dream the night before last that we had just brought Hope home and she was smiling a lot and was very happy and loved being with us and was being really cute. He remembered the dream right after we all read the email from Bethel in the morning, so that was another encouragement.

Update on Hope from Bethel

We got a wonderful update from Bethel this morning on Hope. Our friend there is very generous. Whenever we ask she always responds right away. Here are some words from her email:

“Li Hao is good. She has a strong immune system or something. Whenever there is something going around she doesn’t get it or barely gets it. Isn’t that great!

I keep watching her and thinking how glad I am that she is going to be in a home soon. This environment is really good, but it is not what she needs. For instance, there’s a schedule because of all the kids. Li Hao is not on that schedule. She isn’t tired at nap time, but falls asleep at the end of nap time and then is woken up when everyone else is. So then she’s totally tired and a emotional wreck. Also, the nannies feel she doesn’t know when she is full so they only give her a certain portion. I have talked to them about this, because she really needs to be eating more. Those kind of things make me think how glad I will be when she can take her nap when her body needs it and eat with someone being able to really focus in on what exactly she is getting and stuff. I think she’ll really thrive then.

Her skin is also super dry. I have been lathering up her face everyday with either an ointment or Eucerin cream and that is helping. You’ll want to stock up on some good creams. The other thing I’ve noticed is how when she is given a little loving attention, she goes crazy. She can’t get enough and when I put her down she races back to find me. She really wants a lot of touching and tickling, holding, etc with quite a strong intensity. I will be so glad when she gets her fill! I bet you guys are just totally ready for that job!”

And here are the photos:

BethelChristmasPhoto  QianLiHao01 QianLiHao02 QianLiHao03 QianLiHao04 QianLiHao05 QianLiHao06

My Dream Last Night….

Last night I (Kim) had a really cool dream. In it, I was 4 months pregnant. I thought to myself, “Hmmm, I’m 4 months pregnant. I wonder if I will be able to start feeling the baby move soon…Suddenly, I felt a little flutter. The flutter was really pronounced and fast. It kept going, and I could feel somersaults, and turnings going on. The baby started growing super fast, and within minutes it was a full grown baby in my belly. It was moving around like crazy, and you could see the movements from the outside of my belly. I called Todd and my friend Maita over, and said, “Look at this! How can it be possible!? Im only 4 months pregnant, and Im about to have this baby!”

When I woke up, I calculated and discovered that I am 4 months “pregnant” with Baby Hope! We first found out about her on August 8th, so that would make it almost 4 months to the date! We are wondering if that means that things will go really fast from here…Stay tuned to find out! 🙂

Matching Grant Opportunity from Life International

We got the good news today that Life International has graciously offered us a Matching Grant of up to $3,000 to help us bring Hope home. Any funds donated up to $3,000 will be matched!

If you would like to donate toward this grant, you can send your tax-deductible gift between now and January 18th to the address below. Life International is a trusted organization administering the funds on Hope’s behalf, and will pay adoption expenses out of funds received.

Thank you for considering this wonderful opportunity to partner in this adoption. It is an investment with an eternal return!

1. Please make checks payable to: Life International

You may preference how the donation might be used by writing “preference Hope Phillips Adoption” in the memo section of your check.
(*Note: In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to Life International which retains full discretion and control over its use.)

2. Mail checks to:

Life International
Att: Hope Phillips Adoption
PO Box 40
Gridley, IL 61744

Thank you Life International for making this possible!

Love is blind at Bethel

Guillaume just sent us the Bethel November Newsletter yesterday, along with the photos below of the new “Ranch”. I am sure these photos are posted somewhere on their site, but I just wanted to show them here too, because I love what they are doing and am amazed with the beautiful home they have built there in such a short time. My heart was really stirred when we met with them last night, and I look forward to being able to become a regular contributor to their work.


We got to Skype with Hope!

Tonight was awesome! We got to see Hope on Skype (free video conferencing over the internet using webcams)! It was sooo special to actually see her smiling, and to see her moving around and being her. It was sooo fun to see her and talk to her! She was signing the word “hello” to us! She was smiling, and making lots of squeaky sounds. They said that they have nicknamed her “Mousie” because she makes a lot of squeaky noises. It was exciting for everyone, and challenging too, since Hannah wouldn’t let go of the microphone! 😉

Hope Skype 1 Hope Skype 2

All I can say is that girl is GORGEOUS! We love her so much and cant wait to bring her home! She looked so happy and was having so much fun. She showed us how she gives kisses to her nanny. It was neat to be able to meet and thank her nanny over the video connection. Hope started to get fidgety, as it was time for her walk, so she left and we got to talk to Guillaume and Delphine, the founders of Bethel Foster Home. They are really making progress at the new facility, and Guillaume took us around with his wireless laptop and gave us a tour, and we got to meet some people, including our friend who has been sending us all the photos and updates!

We also got great news that we are going to be able to pick up Hope there at Bethel, and stay there and then travel with her to the original orphanage in Qianjiang! This was something we were really hoping for, as it would be hard on her to have to go back to the orphanage first by herself. This is what the plan was originally, but their request to have us pick her up there was granted. Guillaume told us that they sometimes make the children go back to the originating orphanages for a month ahead of time, so we are glad that it’s looking like Hope will be spared that unnecessary experience!

They also clarified for us that they haven’t received the book we sent yet, but they did actually get the original care package we sent with Elisa back in October. So hopefully it will eventually get there.

If you haven’t checked out the Bethel website, you’re in for a treat. They are some of the most incredible people I have ever met. God called them to China 5 years ago, to work with the blind orphans. They sold everything they had, and moved, and started out with a few children. They now have 32 children, and a staff of 56! They just moved into a huge 15 acre ranch, where they are doing their own farming, getting animals, and are on the road to becoming self-sustainable. Its truly amazing what God has done with them, and they are both still in their 20’s! They are truly an inspiration to us, and we appreciate all that they have done for our daughter, and all the other kids at Bethel.

Guillaume extended an open invitation to Skype often with them, and so you can bet we will be taking him up on that offer. We will record it next time, and post it here, so you can see it too! We were going to record it this time, but had to rush to make the meeting and didn’t have time to set it all up… Skype is great by the way. It’s easy to set up and it was a really neat experience for us all to be able to see each other and talk at the same time. The video and audio quality was excellent. If you have Skype, let us know and you can join us! 😉

Lots of love,


A Few New Hope Photos

Kimberly recently asked our friend at Bethel for pictures of where Hope sleeps, and hangs out, and we were promptly graced with some new photos from Bethel in our inbox this morning. 😉

Baby girl's bedroom

Baby girl’s bedroom


Getting ready for a walk

Getting ready for a walk


Li Hao and Wang ayi

Li Hao and Wang ayi


Li Hao and beads

Li Hao and beads


Play Room

Play Room


Zi Ling and Li Hao and ayi walking

Zi Ling and Li Hao and ayi walking


Father of the fatherless

Jason Upton singing a song he wrote called “Father of the Fatherless” on CBN, and talking about meeting his biological parents…

It’s National Adoption Month!

Thanks to our friend Alida, we just found out today that November is National Adoption Month! On that note, we would like to share a great message with you from Rick Warren, of Saddleback Church, talking about the plight of the orphan, and what we can do to help…. Happy listening!

“Rick Warren, pastor of the widely acclaimed Saddleback Church in Southern California, tells Dennis Rainey why the Body of Christ should be concerned about the plight of the orphan.”
A Biblical Mandate (25 minutes)


Our family has also been very inspired by Rolland and Heidi Baker of Iris Ministries. They are leading an amazing work helping the poor and orphaned of Mozambique…. check them out here: www.irismin.org

(If interested, we recommend their book about their ministry, called “There is Always Enough“.)


Also, check out this great message on the spirit of adoption from our friend in Kansas City, Kelsey Bohlender:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


It is our hope that these resources inspire and encourage you to embrace the heart of God for the orphan.

Log In Date = 11/7/07

Our agency informed us today that our dossier was logged in by the CCAA last week, on November 7th. According to our agency, our dossier now goes through four departments within the CCAA. The first is the Administration Department, where they arrange the dossier for translation. Then it goes through two Review departments before going back to the Administration department, and then to the Archive department. The Administration department will be sending the LOA to our agency once all the requirements are met through the Review departments, and we were told that because we are adopting a special needs child, that the process is expedited in comparison to the regular China adoption process. 

Fund Raising Update

Our Chipin fundraiser just ended yesterday, and $1,095 was given through it! Thanks again to everyone who contributed!

To date we’ve raised close to $11,000, and have spent all of it to get where we are currently at in the adoption process. We  have another $4,000 coming from Shaohannah’s Hope that we were granted at the concert, which goes directly to our agency when the time comes, and will apply toward the plane tickets or whatever the appropriate application of the funds is when this all goes down.

Our minimum remaining expense needs (as far as human planning goes) are now coming into view. At minimum, we need another $5,650 for Plan C, which would be for Kimberly to travel alone to get Hope. There would be additional expenses if she goes alone, because the system is designed for both adopting parents to be there, and so they require additional steps if we aren’t both there. The ideal (Plan A) from our perspective would be for all of us to go to China to get Hope because we don’t have a situation personally that we would feel comfortable with for just Kimberly and I to go, and leave the kids. Not only that, but we’d love for us all to experience this unique opportunity together.

They require us to be there for two weeks, and Kimberly’s mom has offered to watch the kids for 5 days, so there is also the possible (Plan B) scenario for Kimberly and I to go for the first five days, and then I would come back after that while Kimberly stays for the rest of the trip. This is not an desirable plan for a number of reasons, but it’s better than Kimberly going alone.

Plan A
The expense breakdown for us all to go:

$5,650 – base amount needed (see plan C)
$4,800 – additional airfares
$2,500 – additional inside China airfares
$1,000 – additional food expense
$400 – additional travel visa’s
$14,350 = minimum needed for us all to go together

Plan B
The expense breakdown for Kimberly to go and Todd to go for the first five days:
$5,650 – base amount needed (see plan C)
$1,500 – additional airfare
$1,000 – additional inside China airfare
$300 – additional food expense
$100 – additional travel visa
$9,000 = minimum needed for Kimberly to go, and Todd to go for the first five days

Plan C
The expense breakdown for Kimberly to go alone:

$3,000 – Orphanage fee
$1,300 – China’s paperwork fees
$1,500 – Kimberly’s airfare
$700 – Hope’s airfare
$1,800 – Inside China airfares
$250 – food
$100 – Travel Visa
$9,650 – the total before the grant
-$4,000 – the grant
$5,650 = minimum needed for Kimberly to go alone
(not counting additional fees that would be required post travel if she goes alone)

These are all staggering amounts to us, but God is God, so we know he has the best plan all worked out already! 😉