LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - The year was 1994, a one-year-old girl named Hannah was found on the streets of Beijing with half the fingers on her right hand missing.
"China is hard, and if you have a few children and one is handicapped which is very difficult in that culture, that's possibly why she was left somewhere," said Frank de Jong.
Instead of a birth certificate, she was given a foundling certificate.
"The foundling certificate just states that on 'this' and 'this' day and 'this' spot we found 'this' child and we brought her to the police station and when we couldn't find her parents, [so] we put her in an orphanage," said Frank.
That's where Hannah would stay for another seven years. During that time, on the other side of the world, something would begin to stir in the hearts of Frank and Teri deJong of Lindale.
"After we had two kids we did decide that if we had a third child we would like to adopt, and I will tell you if you say things like that in private you know God's listening," said Teri.
Listening he was...
"We heard about a child who was in need of adoption," said Frank. "Somebody showed us a photograph and once they did it was like, how can you say no?"
In August of 2000, Teri traveled to China to pick up, Hannah, who would become their new daughter.
"I was sitting on the couch and they just started bringing the kids out and there she was just so beautiful and she had really short hair and I could just recognize her," said Teri. "She just came and sat right next to me and just grabbed my hand and she said, 'Mama.'"
"From that moment, I was her security. She had a little backpack and that was all, and it sunk in that I am the only thing she is hanging onto now in the world. And here she was, probably desperate at that moment."
Arriving on Texas soil, the seven year old's life was about to change forever.
"It's just been an absolute miracle to come to America and to have opportunity and I guess a better life," said Hannah. "One thing about being adopted is that your parents actually come out to get you. So, you've been specifically chosen."
Hannah quickly became a member of the family. The now 16-year-old, knows her life could have turned out much differently and she's grateful.
"So, I'm very, very thankful and I see that I'm very much blessed to have the parents that I have," said Hannah.
"What do you like about them," I asked.
"Well...I like...what's not to like," she replied with a big smile.
She is one young lady who continues to amaze her forever family.
"She's stepped up to the plate," said Frank. "She became an amazing reader. She's doing great in school getting all A's. I'm surprised and glad and blessed."
"She's a beautiful young woman now and I really can't take credit for it," said Teri. "I mean it's God's grace."
For Frank and Teri, it was their faith that brought Hannah into their lives and they hope others will share the same gift of family with waiting children.
"There unfortunately are millions of children that don't have a mom and a dad and you need a mom and dad to grow up," said Frank.
"She means everything to me just like my other two children, Amanda and Alec. I mean, she's the apple of my eye."
"It's been a beautiful journey and I just feel so blessed to be a part of her life," said Teri.
"They care a lot for me and I can just see that and can tell that everything is very sincere and just that they love me truly," said Hannah.
The gift of love creates families, even when they are living on opposite sides of the world.
What's next for Hannah? She's hoping to raise enough money to travel back to China this summer to visit the orphanage for the first time since she left. She is planning to teach English language classes and computer classes to the children there.
The charity that has agreed to handle donations on Hannah's behalf is called "Hope for the Children". None of the funds received will go directly to Hannah but they will purchase her airline ticket and pay for other expenses related to her trip. They are a non-profit and are able to provide tax-deductible receipts to donors. Any funds raised in excess of Hannah's needs will go directly to the orphanage.
If you want to help Hannah get to China this summer you can call "Hope for the Children" or mail a donation to the following address: