Friday, December 22, 2006

Woman sells soap to fund adoptions from China

She's all business toward adoption
Woods, Penny. Lexington Herald-Leader, Dec. 13, 2006, pg. E1.

Some women have unexpected pregnancies. But Kathy Werking, a Midway artist and business owner, has unexpected adoptions.

Werking, owner of Soap-werks and Werking Studio, became a single mother three years ago when she decided to adopt 3-year-old Leah after reading an article about children with disabilities living at a Beijing orphanage.

To raise money to bring Leah home, Werking sold the soaps, lotions, and candles she has been making since 1997. To help cover the adoption expenses, which can average $19,000, friends and community members also put money in a collection jar Werking had at her kiosk in Victorian Square.

Recently, Werking again felt the tug from China.She is now raising funds to bring home 8-year-old YuLan, a girl she spotted while looking through lists of children waiting to be adopted.

This time, she has assembled a gift basket with specially made products that she will sell to help cover her adoption expenses. Packaged in a colorful Chinese take-out box, the set includes her lotion; a bath fizzie made by her sister Kris Moore; soap made by her mother, Phyllis Werking; and a fortune cookie with the personalized fortune that reads: "This gift helps support the adoption of a special child."Leah, now 6, helps assemble the baskets, which sell for $16 and are available in three scents.

So far, Werking has sold about 150 baskets and hopes to sell a total of 500. Her goal is to raise $5,000.Werking said she was drawn to YuLan's picture, in which the girl was holding up her fingers in a peace sign.

"This is a child who can live in our family," she thought. Leah heartily agreed, so Werking began paperwork in July and expects to be united with YuLan in March.

Because YuLan was born with an unopened ear tube, she has suffered from many ear infections and ulcerations. At the age of 5, her family, possibly no longer able to provide her with the medical care she needed, abandoned her at a bus stop. She was taken to an orphanage, where she has lived for the past three years.

According to medical reports, YuLan's condition has not affected her hearing, and surgeons visiting on medical missions have since opened the ear tube. YuLan is enrolled in English lessons and attends school. The Werkings are taking Chinese lessons to help ease YuLan's transition into their family.

Leah, who plans to travel with her mom to China to get her new sister, has made a special contribution to the fund-raising project. In addition to the baskets, supporters can purchase lip gloss in scents developed by Leah -- Pink Peppermint and Orangey-Orange -- for $3 each.

Leah, a student at Sayre School in Lexington, has undergone surgery and wears a brace for a clubfoot.Werking, who also had a clubfoot as a child, chuckles at her daughter's sales skills. Leah personally shows Soapwerks customers her pots of lip gloss, then says, "I'm selling lip gloss to be able to go get my sister. Would you like to buy some?"

With her irresistible smile and innocent eyes, she raised $142 toward her plane ticket in the first three weeks.

Available in MidwayGift baskets and lip gloss may be purchased at Soapwerks & Werking Studio, 120 E. Main St., Midway, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Visa, MasterCard, checks and cash are accepted. Call (859) 846-9895.

Kathy Werking and her adopted daughter Leah plan to adopt a second girl from China, funding their efforts through products they make, above.


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