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Facebook Discovery Helps Kentucky Family Reunite Disabled Chinese Sisters

Scrolling through her Facebook timeline, Kentucky homemaker Lisa Lumpkins stumbled across a photograph that took her breath away.
Image: Gene and Avery Lumpkins
Gene Lumpkins poses with Avery in Guangzhou, China, on Tuesday.Madison Lumpkins

GUANGZHOU, China — Scrolling through her Facebook timeline, Kentucky homemaker Lisa Lumpkins stumbled across a photograph that took her breath away.

The girl staring back with sparkly eyes and a toothy smile bore a remarkable resemblance to her own daughter, Aubrey, a teenager with cerebral palsy the family adopted from China in 2013.

Lisa Lumpkins poses with her adopted daughter, Aubrey.Madison Lumpkins

"I was just stopped dead in my tracks," Lumpkins said. "I couldn't believe how much she looked like my daughter."

It was no coincidence. It turned out the girl — who also had cerebral palsy — was staying at the same orphanage where Aubrey grew up in the southern city of Shenzhen.

A DNA test paid for by the family confirmed that the girl was Aubrey's long-lost sister.

After raising some $50,000 in an online fundraising campaign, members of the Georgetown-based family were back in China on Tuesday, where they adopted Aubrey 's sister, who they will call Avery.

"It’s sad they lived together all those years and never knew they were sisters," Avery's 44-year-old mother-to-be told NBC News. “These children have had such great loss. We are just elated we could give them such an incredible blessing of getting to reunite them for the rest of their lives.”

Gene Lumpkins poses with Avery in Guangzhou, China, on Tuesday.Madison Lumpkins

The Lumpkins family's intervention came at the 11th hour. On Thursday Avery will turn 14 — the legal age at which she would no longer be eligible for adoption by a foreign family.

"The stress of wondering if we’d get it all completed was totally overwhelming," her mother-to-be said.

Avery will be the sixth child the family has adopted from China, under the country's policy of encouraging foreign families to take on disabled kids. Along with their two biological children, the Lumpkinses will now be a family of 10.

"Adoption was a childhood dream of mine," Lisa Lumpkins added. "I feel any child is better in a loving home instead of institutionalized."

The family estimates the adoption costs are around $35,000 per child. Lisa Lumpkins is a homemaker and her husband, 46-year-old Gene, works as a supervisor at a Toyota factory in Georgetown. To fund the adoptions, they have had to borrow against their house and cut down on their spending.

Gene Lumpkins (left) poses with his biological daughter, Madison (center rear) and adopted children (left to right) Avery, Noah and Molly, in Guangzhou, China, on Tuesday.Eric Baculinao / NBC News

With the family already financially strapped, Avery's adoption was paid for by an GoFundMe campaign that drummed up $50,000. Reuniting the sisters "is nothing short of a miracle from God," Lisa Lumpkins said.

She saw Avery's Facebook photo in February after it was posted online by a friend working as a volunteer at the orphanage.

The family then paid for a DNA test that confirmed a 99.99 percent chance they were sisters. The family don't know much about the teenagers' past other than that they were abandoned by their biological parents.

Lisa Lumpkins stayed behind in Georgetown looking after their other kids, while her husband, along with 7-year-old adopted son Noah, and 14-year-old biological daughter Madison, traveled to China to bring back the latest addition to their family.

It didn't stop there, however.

While completing the months-long process of Avery's adoption, the family saw a video online of another girl, who they will name Molly, at another orphanage in the city of Xi’an. While he was out in China, Gene Lumpkins adopted the teenager, who also suffers from cerebral palsy, on Monday.

Gene Lumpkins with Avery (left) and Molly after adopting the teenagers in Guangzhou, China, on Tuesday.Madison Lumpkins

Molly and Avery arrived in the city of Guangzhou, to the north of Shenzhen, on Monday, where they were transferred into the custody of the Lumpkins family.

The adoption was completed on Tuesday.

"I feel relieved," Gene Lumpkins told NBC News. "It has really gone well, she is now part of our family."

The newly-expanded family should all be together and reunited next week, according to Lisa Lumpkins.

"We will celebrate big when they’re home and we’re complete once again," she said.

Alexander Smith contributed.