The White family of Louisville, Kentucky, now has a full house. Shelly White's 10-year-old daughter, Ryan Elizabeth, became intrigued about the plight of Haitian orphans after the 2012 earthquake. She begged her parents to adopt an orphan, even requesting donations instead of toys one Christmas. Her parents listened and the White's welcomed a 1-year-old girl, Mya, in March. She has a cancerous tumor, but that doesn't stop her new family from loving her. More from TODAY:
"I had a mother's love for her right away," says White, whose other children are 3, 6 and 9. "I can't really explain it. I couldn't stop thinking about her. I couldn't get her off my heart."
Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville committed to treating Mya at no cost to the Whites, which allowed the girl to receive a one-year medical visa and come to the United States before an adoption was complete. Mya arrived on May 7, with the Whites serving as her guardians as they go through the adoption process.
"We just had this love for her that was instant, and it wasn't a hard decision because of our faith," Shelly White says. "Peace and stage four cancer don't go hand-in-hand, but we just have it with her."
The Whites had called on a longtime friend and church elder, Scott Watkins, vice president of operations for Norton Healthcare. Watkins has raised $18,000 in pledges to help with the adoption, and Norton Healthcare owns the hospital providing Mya's care.
Mya has rhabdomyosarcoma, cancer of the connective tissue, in her pelvis. After several rounds of chemotherapy, the tumor, which is protruding from her vagina, has shrunk significantly, said Dr. Stephen Wright, Kosair's medical director.
"We think the prognosis at this point is pretty good," he said. "We're very pleased with how well the tumor is responding to chemotherapy."
Mya was not getting the optimal doses of medication in China, and likely would not have survived, said Wright, who has seen Mya's development improve in the short time she has been in Louisville.
"It's a life-changing event that they would open their home and their hearts to somebody they did not know at all with a serious medical problem and provide her with the love that she wouldn't get in an orphanage," Wright said of the Whites.
Image: holding hands, via Shutterstock