Carrying Hope High

May 10, 2018 Family Stories, fundraisers, May 2018 Feature - Now What? Life After China Program Changes, other ways to care for the orphan, Stefanie, terminal diagnosis 5 Comments

I recently reached out to my friend Emily to ask if she’d be willing share her story here on NHBO. Hers is a story that we – as the adoption community – need to hear… especially during this time of such significant and devastating changes in the China program. We need to cling to hope, hold it high and encourage one another to keep moving forward – in whatever way we can.

One way to do that is to help others.

Read the Rancourt’s story. And then consider becoming a part of it by making a contribution to their matching grant to bring a broken-hearted treasure home. Despite the changing climate of the China program, they have an opportunity to bring one little heart warrior home.

From Emily:

We tied the knot in 2004, and it’s no secret that we absolutely adore each other. The foundation for our marriage is that we are best friends, share the same goals for our lives, and have a common strong Christian faith. We are both committed to the well-being of our family, and we enjoy dreaming about the future while living in the present.

Jacques is the Lead Pastor of Gateway Bible Church in Gainesville, VA. His office is in our home so that he is always available and home for our children. I am the Assistant Director of the Forensic Science Program at the George Mason University. Prior to being asked to come and start the Forensic Science Program, I was a CSI for the local police department investigating homicides, suicides, and suspicious deaths. My job is extremely flexible as well, and has afforded me the privilege to be with our children 24/7 during all of their surgeries and extended hospital stays.

Family, next to our faith, is the most important commitment in our lives. Our children are involved in one major activity at a time, whether it is gymnastics or volleyball or something else. We intentionally guard that time because we know how precious that time is and that we can never get it back. We also believe that the family unit is the most important unit in society. And so, we believe our family has the privilege and duty to open its doors up to people who have a lot of struggles in their family.

We encourage our girls to have their friends play at our house so they can experience the love and joy of a family if they are going through things that are tough in their own home. I believe this is one of the reasons why we have such a heart for adoption. We want our home to be a place where children can experience healing and love and joy. Our home is a place where a child can receive unconditional love and thrive in a new life.

Every human being on the planet – no matter what situation they are born into – deserves to know, feel, and experience unconditional love. That is what we can give. We also believe that by bringing these children into our home, they are showing us even further what love and joy are!

Our first daughter Dryden was born in 2005, and she is currently 12 years old. Dryden loves to play the violin and hopes to be a collegiate volleyball player someday.

Soleil was born in 2007, and she turned 10 years old in December. Soleil is a huge helper with her younger siblings, and she loves to do gymnastics.

In May of 2012 we adopted Mackenzie and Lily from China when they were 3 and 2 ½ years old respectively.

Mackenzie is now 9 years old. She was diagnosed with Turner’s Syndrome shortly after coming home from China. Mackenzie needed an emergency 14-hour brain/ear surgery to remove a mass from her inner ear that perforated her skull. The pathology on the mass came back that it was comprised of two ESBL bacteria. Mackenzie has significant hearing loss due to the mass and infection, and wears a hearing aide in her left ear. Mackenzie has needed intensive speech and occupational therapy to help her overcome her rough start in life. After 5 years of intense work and love, Mackenzie is unrecognizable from the child we brought home from China.

Lily is 8 years old. She was labeled as “terminal” in China due to complicated congenital heart defects. Once Lily came home we discovered that not only did she have Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, she also has complete situs inversus (all of Lily’s organs are on the opposite side of her body). Lily’s birth heart was upside down, backward, and on the right hand side of her chest.

Lily had two open-heart surgeries in China, two open-heart surgeries in the USA, abdominal surgery for a bowel obstruction, and most recently a heart transplant in June of 2014.

Our brave warrior is said to be the most complicated pediatric heart transplant ever done in the USA. Lily is now absolutely thriving with her Hero’s heart! This past October, Lily’s donor family replied to our letter of gratitude. We now have a name and face for our Hero – Parker!

In the midst of all the adoption life adjustments and surgeries we were surprised to discover that we were pregnant and expecting our fifth child. Our entire family was so excited to have a new baby in the house!

However, all of those hopes and dreams came to a crashing halt on May 6th, 2013 when we delivered our sweet Addy Hope stillborn from a congenital heart defect at 39 weeks gestation. Not a day goes by that we do not think about our precious daughter, and wish that she was living here on earth with us.

In November of 2014 we returned to China to adopt our son Thaddaeus – whose name means “courageous heart”. Thadd is now 6 years old. He was labeled as “terminal” in China due to an unfortunate combination of congenital heart defects. Thankfully he was able to have two open heart surgeries so far since coming home from China.

Unfortunately, since Thadd never had open-heart surgery when he was an infant, his pulmonary arteries will need to grow in order for him to be eligible for another palliative surgery. We are hoping and praying that his arteries will grow, and that we will be blessed by the gift of more time with our little dude.

Back in October of 2015 we learned about sweet baby LiHua who was abandoned in China with biliary atresia and was in desperate need of a liver transplant. In a matter of seconds, Jacques and I said, “Yes, she’s ours!”

We expedited our home study and were waiting for her finding ad to finish posting in the Chinese newspaper when we got the devastating phone call that she passed away.

Shortly thereafter, we were asked by Love Without Boundaries to have our cardiologist review the medical file of a very blue baby boy that they were calling Joel. The review had us in tears, and we knew that this little guy did not have much time left. Jacques and I said, “YES Lord, send us!” China agreed to allow us to re-use our dossier that had just expired from Thadd’s adoption, and they were expediting his case so quickly that our LOA was issued with our PA… this is unheard of! Two days before Christmas, and about 4 weeks before travel, we got the dreaded phone call that our precious boy had passed away.

In March of 2016, we were alerted to another sweet baby girl who was also in desperate need of a liver transplant. Of course, we said yes, and began calling her “Hope”. Since our dossier had officially expired for re-use, we expeditiously began compiling a new one. Once again, the phone rang and it was our adoption agency.

Hope had passed away.

As soon as I told Jacques through my sobs, his first response was, “Again?” Yes…again. In September of 2016 our third Chinese dossier was finally logged into China! We identified another sweet baby girl who was named “Luna” at her foster home. Luna was extremely sick and in desperate need of another open-heart surgery that could only be done here in the USA. With her case being so complicated, just like with Lily and Thadd, China had labeled Luna terminal. Her blue skin and sad expression made my Mommy heart want to jump on the next flight out to Beijing to bring her home.

In December of 2016 we were notified that Luna passed away.

Absolute devastation.

We have now lost four precious babies since October 2015. Four babies who we chose, deeply loved, and now mourn over with empty arms.

We are not braver than anyone else, and certainly not more resilient as some people have told us. We were hurting, raw, and fearful that our next “YES” could land us right back there again. One thing I promised myself was that Luna would not be our last difficult yes. We know the good we ought to do, and we will continue fighting until Hope wins out over fear.

A friend asked me how my heart could take all of this loss. How can I take it? Because I know that God is sovereign.

We said Yes so that China could see that Luna was chosen, loved, and desperately wanted… despite her “terminal” diagnoses.

We can only pray that hearts will change, and that someday when an orphan is discovered who seems too “sick” to do an adoption file for, they will remember our family, and our YES.

These faces below represent our YES to the Lord.

They say that sometimes your biggest blessings arrive in the most unexpected ways.

That statement could not be truer when it comes to our Annabella Hope – known to us as Salsa. At the end of September 2016, I received a phone call from an adoption agency in New York. The voice on the other end of the phone said, “This adoption will need to be a huge leap of faith,” before describing a teeny, tiny baby girl born way too soon.

Born at 27 weeks, weighing only 2 pounds and 10 ounces, our baby girl stopped breathing after her emergency c-section. Amazingly, she only spent one day on the ventilator before being put on C-pap for a couple of months in the NICU. The trauma of her birth caused a Grade 2 brain bleed. She was also born with a huge PDA (or hole in her heart), and Retinopathy of preemie. We were warned that Annabella “might” have cerebral palsy, or neurological defects as well.

Despite a laundry list of unknown and scary diagnoses, God unequivocally shouted, “Go”. He is the maker and author of Annabella Hope’s story, and He promises not to harm but to give hope and a future. We have been and will continue to see various specialists to make sure we help Annabella reach her maximum potential regardless of what comes her way.

Although her entrance into this world was abrupt and difficult, she is finally “home”, loved, and cherished beyond measure.

I wish I could go back five years ago after delivering Addy Hope still, and whisper into my ear, as I sat empty handed in a wheel chair waiting for Jacques to pull the minivan around so we could leave the Prince William Birthing center.

I would tell myself, “This will hurt your heart, worse than any physical pain you have endured…for a very long time. A very very long time. At times it will hit you out of nowhere, and you will feel like you are gasping just to breathe. But your arms will not always be empty. Wait. Grieve. Grow. And hope.

Always hope.

Because Joy will come on the morning of October 25th, 2016 when Salsa is placed into your arms!”

The night of what would have been Luna’s 3rd birthday my sister, Meredith (Mei) who runs the Morning Star Foster Home for babies with severe congenital heart defects, was blowing up my phone with photos of a sweet baby girl with a blue tongue.

Much to our shock, this little one has almost the exact diagnosis and congenital heart defects as Luna. Jia Ni has a heart condition called Tetralogy of Fallot with severe pulmonary atresia and MAPCAS. In the USA she would have already had two open heart surgeries by now, but instead at 17 months old she is completely unrepaired.

When I read that she was listed with our adoption agency my heart began racing… and I knew. Within minutes of sharing her story and face with Jacques, I began writing our Letter of Intent (LOI) to adopt Jia Ni.

Our LOI to adopt Jia Ni was sent to China, and within 12 hours China said Yes!

When people tell us we are heroes, we make sure to be clear – we are not
Yes, we brought home two beautiful daughters and a handsome son from China, and added a sweet baby girl from the USA to our family too! 
Yes, our children all have significant special needs.
But no – that doesn’t make us heroic. 

People have repeatedly told us how admirable it is that we would rescue these children. And while we appreciate the encouragement, I want to be clear about something. 

We are not rescuing them – they are rescuing us.

How so? It has become far too easy for us to settle into North American suburbia. We can feel the pull to settle into a comfortable little life with a nice home, two cars, a couple of cute kids, and a dog. We were slowly, over the first few years of our marriage, lulled into a life in which we didn’t do anything too risky, only made decisions that made sense financially, and took on me-sized challenges that wouldn’t threaten our ability to control our own future. 

In other words, we had all but programmed faith right out of our life.
And as for the Holy Spirit – we really didn’t need Him. We hadn’t really done anything that required His power. We weren’t obsessed with following His leading. We were just kind of content to coast on our own strength… until 2011 when we began the adoption process to bring home Mackenzie and Lily. 

Because, as a family, we did something that didn’t make sense financially, that was far beyond our ability to control the result, and that could only work out if God showed up. Paul, on multiple occasions, echoed what God said through one of his prophets. “The righteous will live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). 

They do. We didn’t. We are now. And nothing tops that.

Thank you Mackenzie, Lily, Thadd, Annabella, and Luna Mei for rescuing us!

We are thrilled that we have been awarded a $4500 matching grant, funded by Lifesong – Chosen and Dearly Loved Foundation. That means that your donation will be matched dollar for dollar up to $9,000 to help us bring home Luna Mei! If you donate $25 it becomes $50, and if you donate $100 it becomes $200!

Financial contributions are tax deductible and can be given in two ways:

To Give Online:

1. Click the red “Donate New” button on this page!

To Give by Check:

1. Please make checks payable to Lifesong for Orphans
2. Please write Rancourt Family Account #7690 in the memo line
3. Please mail checks to:

Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40
Gridley IL 61744

Our goal is to have 100% of the necessary funds raised by June 15th, 2018 so we can get our baby girl home for life saving open heart surgery!


Many in the adoption community have been devastated by the sweeping changes in the China program, including a number of us here at NHBO. But the story doesn’t have to end there. There is work to do, children to come home. It may not look like we’d hoped, but that doesn’t mean the end will be any less beautiful.

Join with us in supporting this family, or another that is bringing their child home. Pray for them. We are not without hope and it should be our privilege to take part in the making of a family.

Thankful for this huge-hearted adoption community. May we carry hope high, no matter what the future holds. The children we fight for are so worth it.


5 responses to “Carrying Hope High”

  1. Brett says:

    I’ve been following this brave family – these beautiful children – for some time and am thrilled to hear about their new daughter. May I respectfully if China bent their rule about the youngest child being 3 years old at the time of LOI?

    As someone who’s neither a bio or adoptive parent, I realize my position to lobby is shaky, but I’m aware that many prospective adoptive families have been left in the lurch with these new restrictions. Hopefully this is a sign that things are changing.

    All blessings your way.

    • Emily says:

      Hi Brett! Thank you for following our family’s journey. China did not bend any rules or give us any waivers because our dossier was logged into China in 9/2016 way before the new rules took effect. We feel so fortunate that we are able to bring home one more!!!!

      • Brett says:

        Seeing the beautiful photos of your new daughter in your arms this day. She already looks as if she knows she has come home. Just rejoicing for you all. ♡♡♡♡

  2. TXBX says:

    Thank you very much for sharing your journey with others.

  3. Lynn says:

    Update—Luna Mei came to be adopted in the spring/ summer of 2018, just weeks after momma Emily almost died from appendicitis. Luna Mei’s diagnosis required an extremely complex, lengthy open-heart operation to save her life, one that could only be performed by one heart surgeon in CA. Surgery was Oct. 2019, but her recovery has been slow and she has suffered a lot of miserable complications. Emily stayed by her side 24/7 for 12 weeks, and was preparing to transfer Luna to Children’s National in Washington DC when another disaster struck: On Dec. 4, 2019, their garage caught fire, burning to the ground along with their van, and extensively damaging their home & belongings. The next day, Emily & Luna Mei flew to DC via AeroCare medical transport. Your prayers are appreciated!!

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