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Rancho Santa Fe teen to hold fundraiser for adoption of Ugandan girl

By Karen Billing

Laura-Valentine Lock is putting the sweet in Sweet 16. Instead of gifts at her 16th birthday party, Laura-Valentine, who was adopted from China as a baby, is asking for donations to help support the adoption of a young Ugandan girl.

The Valentine baby turned 16 on Feb. 14, but her party will be held Friday, March, 2 at 7 p.m. at the Village Community Presbyterian Church in Rancho Santa Fe.

The party will be a fundraiser for Feng LiLi Foundation, specifically supporting Maggie, a 7-year-old Ugandan child waiting to start her new life in Southern California. The party will also mark the release of Laura-Valentine’s first album “My Sweet Home” and she will perform.

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Laura-Valentine’s parents have agreed that their only gift to their daughter for her birthday is to match the amount of money donated at her party.

Laura-Valentine was adopted when she was three months old in China after being abandoned by her birth mother. Her adoptive parents, Susan Sharpe and Ken Lock, were set to adopt a baby girl named Feng LiLi when the baby went missing from the orphanage. Sickness, over-crowding, lack of food and medicine and inefficient administration were perhaps to blame for her disappearance and no trace of her was ever found.

“I was blessed to be the second one picked,” said Laura-Valentine, who also goes by LV. “I remember growing up as a normal child. I didn’t think of myself as being adopted because I felt so welcome in my family.”

LV’s parents started the Feng LiLi Foundation in memory of the baby they never knew, helping to find homes for abandoned children all over the world. Sharpe said the organization has financially assisted adoptions of more than 100 children so far.

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“We have a 17-year-old-biological son, James, and many always assume people adopt because they can’t have kids,” Sharpe said. “We really chose to adopt and we encourage everyone to consider adoption. It’s as much or more of a miracle as having a child of your own. We’re so thrilled with how it all worked out with Laura-Valentine and we’re excited for her and her career and how she wants to use her gift.”

Along with her brother James, LV went on a mission trip to Uganda with the Children’s Heritage Foundation last year and had the opportunity to meet many children awaiting new homes, like Maggie. Since her visit, she’s learned of several children she met being adopted.

“It made my heart soar,” LV said.

James had visited Uganda once before LV, to help build a basketball court. The pair will return to the country LV calls “beautiful” and “incredible” to run a basketball camp for children later this year.

LV said she has a heart for giving back, to both children and to animals — she also volunteers at the Helen Woodward Animal Center.

A cheerleader who also does track and field, LV’s passion for music started young, she has been singing since she was 3 years old. As a Christian artist, her style is “West Coast country” with a little pop music vibe and she has performed at churches and schools, and worked with producers in the studio to create her first album.

She has tried her hand in songwriting and has penned two original songs for the album.

One, “My Sweet Home,” is about how blessed she feels to be in a loving family after being abandoned.

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“Another song, ‘If I Knew You’ is a very personal song to my birth mom,” LV said. “I tell her ‘Don’t worry, I’m fine’ and that I still love her even though she made the hard decision to give me up. It’s very emotional.”

The March 2 event is free with a donation to Maggie and the Feng Li Li Foundation. To learn more about the organization, visit

fenglili.org

  1. Laura Valentine’s music is available on itunes and on

laura-valentine.com

  1. RSVP for the party on either site.

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