WEEKI WACHEE — Natalie and Adam Gillespie are on a mission to raise $30,000 by July. Their goal: To adopt twin 4-year-old girls from China, one of whom is crippled and developmentally delayed with cerebral palsy.
"Because of China's one-child policy, these little girls were abandoned in a TV packing crate and found on the second floor of a department store when they were just 3 days old and weighed less than 4 pounds each,'' Natalie Gillespie said.
"For four long years they have waited in an orphanage for a family and someone to medically address their needs. With the help of our community, we hope to be that family," she said.
"If we can't raise (the money) and adopt them, China is going to separate these twins permanently. They are bonded, and I think that would be heartbreaking. The adoption agency … was going to give them no medication, no therapy, and there's no education for the disabled."
Natalie Gillespie, 42, and her husband, Adam Gillespie, 48, are no strangers to the arduous trek toward foreign adoption. In 2006, the couple adopted Amberlie Joy from China, adding her to their family of six children. The girl was soon nicknamed "Sunshine'' by her new family.
That same year, Natalie received U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite's congressional Angel in Adoption Award. "Natalie and her husband, Adam, have dedicated their lives to helping place orphans and adopted children into permanent, loving families," said Brown-Waite at the time.
Natalie Gillespie is also the author of a book, Successful Adoption.
Of the twins from Jiangsu province on the central west coast of China, Natalie Gillespie said Xi Xi and Xi Xian, roughly pronounced as "Shay Shay" and "Shay Sean," were passed over by potential adoptees because of Xi Xi's disabilities, thought to be the result of brain damage in utero or an oxygen deficiency at birth.
"It seems to be she's a paraplegic, uncontrolled from the waist down," she said. "It's different from paralysis. Her muscles are shortened and stiff," according to an MRI performed in China at the Gillespies' expense.
"She may catch up or she may stay at the 18-month development stage she is now. But she's very responsive."
The Gillespies have not been permitted to meet the twins in person but have been sent videos and files pertaining to the girls.
"We almost said no,'' Natalie Gillespie admitted. But their children — three of his and three of hers from previous marriages, aged 11 to 19 — pushed them ahead.
The adoption process is a monumental task.
Costs include an adoption donation in China of $5,200 per child plus $1,000 to $1,500 in adoption fees there that include passports, visas and civil affairs add-ons. Stateside, $870 is required for immigration approval and FBI criminal background checks on the Gillespies; $3,750 to the U.S. adoption agency handling the account; some $700 in certification copies of marriage, birth certificates and health checks from Tallahassee to then be authorized by Chinese officials.
Plus, the couple needs travel money and $1,500 a week for two weeks lodging in China to meet and ascertain their appropriate linking with the twins.
Why tackle such a challenge?
Natalie Gillespie repeated a tale about a little boy who one day picked up a starfish beached on the sand and returned it to the surf. A passerby said the boy couldn't hope to rescue all of the starfish strewn along the sand. The boy replied, "I can't pick up all of them, but I can save this one."
Natalie Gillespie added, "Every child deserves a family."
She acknowledged that raising $30,000 "seems like an impossible amount. Well, there are almost 300 million Americans and all I need to find is 30,000 who will give one dollar. Anybody can give one dollar, right?"
To make a donation, visit the family's online campaign at ThePoint.com and search "twin with cerebral palsy." A PayPal contribution can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org. Funds also can be sent to the Gillespies at 9490 Whisper Ridge Trail, Weeki Wachee, FL 34613. More information is available from the Gillespies at (797) 674-8207.
The Gillespies' progress can be followed on the Facebook page, "Bring Xi Xi and Xi Xian Home."
Beth Gray can be contacted at email@example.com.