An Experience Worth a Million Words

On a recent trip, long-time supporters of the Peace House — Holt’s medical foster home in China —  got the chance to visit this vital program for orphaned and abandoned children with special needs.

If it is true that a picture is worth a thousand words, then seeing something in person must be worth a million! This became a reality for us in July when we had the chance to visit the Peace House in Beijing, China. Over the past three and a half years, we have been vested in this initiative, primarily through prayers and financial support.  So when Holt invited us to travel to northeastern China to visit multiple Holt initiatives in the area — including Peace House — we enthusiastically accepted.

The mission of Peace House is to take in orphaned and abandoned children from across China who have various health conditions that can be surgically addressed, such as cleft lip and palate, club feet or heart issues, and nurture that child through three steps. First, the staff at Peace House works to ensure the child is healthy enough to go into surgery. Second, Holt facilitates the corrective procedure at a quality Beijing-area hospital. Finally, following the procedure, they nurse the child to good health.  Once this is completed, the child returns to the orphanage or foster home where they came from. In most cases, these children will ultimately be placed in a loving home in China or the U.S.

A number of things impressed us during our visit. We were impressed that the care being provided by the staff is phenomenal.  It also reinforced our belief that the children absolutely deserve a place in life where they can thrive and fulfill the plan that God intends for them. And while there are multitudes of children in China who need medical help, it was extremely fulfilling to help the 8-10 children who were at the home during our visit. We felt some natural anxiety as we entered the Beijing apartment that houses these children and their caregivers.  Would this be what we expected it to be?  Within minutes, it became abundantly clear that this was more than we could have imagined.  We immediately “hit the floor” to hold and interact with these beautiful youngsters.  After we passed the children’s scrutiny, they warmed to us and permitted us to hold, cuddle and play with them.  At various times throughout our visit, our minds could not help but think, ‘Could we bring one of these precious kids home?’  : ) Continue reading “An Experience Worth a Million Words”

This Tenderhearted Girl Needs a Loving Family

Help find Josie* a family!  Share her story today.

DOB: June 18, 2004

Born on June 18th, 2004, Josie was found wrapped in a yellow coat and taken to an orphanage. She suffered from cleft lip and palate and an umbilical cord infection.

After Josie recovered from the infection, she was observed for 2 months before being sent to live with a foster family. Through the love and support of this temporary family, Josie thrived.  In 2005, Josie had surgery to repair her cleft lip, and 2 years later, another successful surgery to repair the cleft palate.

Today, at 11 years old, Josie has a vibrant, independent personality, loves to sing, and does so “with rich emotion,” according to her social workers.  Josie grew up in a foster family with many young friends in the neighborhood and an older foster sister with whom she was very close.  She even traveled 3 hours by bus on her own to see her sister who lived a different city. She likes cartoons, loves to draw and shares fairytales with the other children.

What’s most charming about Josie, though, is her kind heart, illustrated perfectly in this lovely story included in her file: One day on the playground, Josie’s friend stepped on an ant. This made Josie very sad. Josie ran to the teacher and said, “Teacher, I want to bring it home and give him treatment.” The teacher replied, “But if the ant was cured, it might bite you, then things will go bad.” Josie’s response to her teacher’s comment was endearing, to say the least. “He will not bite me, teacher,” Josie replied. “Because I treat him well, and he will treat me well also.”

While Josie has never been admitted to public school, she was home-schooled by her older foster sister and has completed the first grade curriculum. Josie was close with her foster family but they were no longer able to provide her with the social and educational support she needs.  She is now attending some classes at the social welfare institution where she has been living for the past couple of months.

Continue reading “This Tenderhearted Girl Needs a Loving Family”

A Boy In Everyone’s Heart

Paxton is waiting for a family to call his own.

DOB: March 10, 2001, China

Paxton* has a special talent for language. By age 4, he could recite 20 “Tang poems,” written in the style of the Tang Dynasty. This earned him the title of “Young Recite Expert” in his class. In the first grade, he set the standard for himself when he scored 100 points on his literacy test. In the years since, he has continued to refine his language skills – learning English as well as his native Mandarin and Cantonese. In September, Paxton started the 6th grade. He continues to excel academically, scoring especially high marks in oral and written English.

Paxton’s natural talents are remarkable. But even more remarkable are the challenges he has had to overcome in order to fully express them.

When he was just 15 days old, Paxton was found abandoned near a gas station and sent to live at a state-run orphanage in southern China. Here, he has lived the first 11 years of his life – growing into a “brave and self-confident” boy. Although just one of many children growing up at the institute without a family to make him feel special and encourage him in school, he somehow found within himself the confidence and drive he needed to succeed. Continue reading “A Boy In Everyone’s Heart”

Cleft Lip and Palate: An Informational Guide

A brief overview of cleft lip and palate — the condition, its challenges, treatment options, and links to online resources for further reading.

Cleft lip and cleft palate are common congenital defects that occur very early in pregnancy. When the tissue of the lip does not join together properly, a separation – or cleft – develops between the two sides of the lip. Similarly, a cleft palate occurs when the two sides of the palate – or roof of the mouth – fail to fuse, causing a split or opening. Because the lip and the palate develop separately, a child may be born with a cleft lip, a cleft palate, or both cleft lip and cleft palate.

Holt sees a broad range of cleft lip and palate cases among children we place for adoption. Some children have already had surgery to repair the condition, and will require little follow-up medical care. Other children will require more involved care once home with their adoptive family. Children with minor cases of cleft lip and palate are often matched with families already in process, and never appear on the photolisting! When families fill out the medical conditions checklist at the beginning of the adoption process, they can identify both the condition and degree of need they are open to – from minor to moderate to major.

Madelyn Portie, born with cleft lip and palate, adopted by Keith and Melissa Portie.

Continue reading “Cleft Lip and Palate: An Informational Guide”

Cleft Lip and Palate? No Big Deal

When Liz and Jason Barnette began the adoption process for their daughter Hannah, the challenges of caring for a child with cleft lip and palate seemed, at first, worrisome. But once home with Hannah, they realized that any struggles they face are just minor details in an otherwise joyous life. 

by Liz Barnette

Deciding to start our family through adoption in January of 2010 was the first of many more decisions that would quickly follow.  In the next three months we would decide on an agency, country, and special needs versus healthy referral program. Each decision gave us a sense of peace as we moved forward in the journey to our child. Holt’s Korea waiting child program was the perfect fit for us. We did not want to wait years for a referral and had heard about the numerous children with mild and often correctable conditions who needed a family. In particular, reading blogs from other families who had adopted waiting children encouraged us to choose the waiting child program; over and over, we read stories about children with medical conditions or disabilities who are now flourishing in their forever families.

We filled out our application in March and then sat down together to complete the waiting child medical needs checklist. While all the decisions up to this point had seemed big, this checklist was a daunting task. While necessary to the process, it also felt quite strange. There is no checklist for biological children!

Some conditions were straightforward and others required research. Some conditions one of us would be open to, but the other, not so sure.  Many of the needs we checked ‘yes’ to were mild and correctable. When we got to the cleft lip and palate section, we realized we both felt really drawn to this particular medical need. As a speech pathologist, I have taken coursework in cleft lip and palate and how it influences speech and feeding.  My husband sells medical devices and frequently works with plastic and oral surgeons. Although cleft lip and palate does not self-correct – and can be very involved – we felt like we had sufficient access to the people and resources needed to care for a child with this particular condition.

A few months later, Holt sent an email to families in the waiting child program with information about children who would be added to the photolisting that week. This was the first email that included a child with cleft lip and palate. It seems a little crazy to say this, but we both felt that our child would have a cleft lip and/or palate, even though we were open to various other needs.  We could hardly contain our excitement that this 6-month-old baby girl might be our daughter! Continue reading “Cleft Lip and Palate? No Big Deal”