2021 March Heartbeat
From the Founder
Stormy Weather Hits Texas
Tim and Pam Baker live in Austin, Texas where they’ve recently experienced severe weather conditions and a loss of power for several days. Tim has asked Lori Baxter to contribute the lead column this month.
“Lori has faithfully volunteered and worked for the Philip Hayden Foundation for more than 10 years. She and her husband Scott have five daughters – four adults and one teen – including four adoption stories. Her two youngest girls arrived from China as toddlers, and have beautifully blossomed while growing up in this loving Forever Family. Lori believes that while not everyone is called to adopt, we can all do something to improve the lives of hopeless orphans and vulnerable children, wherever they live. If you call or email PHF, you’ll most likely be talking with Lori!” – Tim Baker
Orphans Need Safe Spaces
My very first visit to Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village (SFCV) was with a team of excited volunteers in 2008, and I was very eager to learn about China, its customs and how I could help. My husband, Scott and I had already adopted two girls with special needs from that ancient land, which capped our family at five daughters. However, I still felt called to improve the lives of orphans with disabilities in China – and God wonderfully provided that opportunity for me through Shepherd’s Field and the Philip Hayden Foundation (PHF).
Two decades ago…
It was 2002 – 18 years ago – when our family adopted our first daughter from China. The child welfare landscape there at the time was distinctly different from today – no shared lists to reveal who we were looking at, and no waiting lists for specific children. We had deliberately chosen to adopt a girl with correctable special needs, and only when we received our official referral did we find out that our daughter was 20 months old, and that she had a bilateral cleft lip and palate.
I remember those first moments with her, when she acted so unsure of the world, and was terrified of everything. She clung to me, even needing to hold tightly to my hand as she fell asleep. This profound longing for a safe place – for security – is common among the orphans I’ve met.
Adoption by US families
In 2002, more than 6,000 Chinese orphans – most of them girls less than a year old – were adopted by families in the U.S. By 2005, when we adopted a second special-needs toddler from China, U.S. annual adoptions from there had reached their peak at 8,000 children – and even then most adoptions involved infant girls. Incredibly, only 1,500 Chinese orphans were adopted by U.S. families in 2018 – and most of those were between five and 12 years old.
I’ve learned a lot about the changes in orphan care in China during the past two decades, through considerable reading as well as my own personal work with PHF. First, Chinese parents love their kids, but sometimes life forces really hard choices upon some of them. In 2002, a baby with a cleft lip and palate in China had only a 10% chance of survival beyond the age of five. If a family couldn’t afford life-saving surgery, they were often forced to give up their child in order to receive the medical care they needed.
Child welfare improves
Second, China has worked hard to improve child welfare and protection, and in 2019 created a Child Welfare Bureau under the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Orphanages have been updated, medical care has improved and the One-Child policy has been eliminated. Significantly, barriers to adoption within China have been removed, and more families in China than ever before are fostering and adopting orphans.
This may be the most significant cultural change regarding China’s child welfare system I’ve witnessed since my first visit. And the facts prove it – the number of children in state-level care has dropped dramatically in recent years. However, those kids who remain and wait for families are often older or have more significant physical, mental or other special needs that most people just can’t cope with or afford.
Most Chinese orphans have disabilities
In spite of these changes, more than 200,000 kids remain in institutional care in China – and 98% of them have disabilities. While in care, these children need medical care and therapy, and a chance to find their own families. After 25 years, PHF is still addressing those needs. Our Medical Fund is used to provide medical care for those whose needs are beyond the resources of an orphanage. We’ve also established a network of doctors and hospitals across China who willingly take on the most challenging cases – like Luke and Maggie.
Our Bright Stars Therapy Team has partnered with LIH Olivia’s Place to provide a wide range of training to orphanage therapists across China – including Therapy Training in Behavior (ABA), physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy – improving the lives of countless unreached orphans. We continue to advocate for mainland, as well as international adoption, and maintain the vision that every orphan in China will be seen, known and loved. With your partnership, we’ve improved the lives of orphans in China by providing medical care, therapy, education and, most of all – hope.
– Lori Baxter
Learn More about Cerebral Palsy in March
March is Cerebral Palsy (CP) Awareness Month – but what is CP? How does it affect the quality of life and one’s lifespan? Cerebral palsy is a neurological (brain) condition that affects body movement or muscle control. CP occurs when the brain develops abnormally, or there’s damage to the brain before, during or after birth. The disorder is not considered hereditary, and there’s a wide range of severity – from mild to severe. It’s not progressive, but symptoms can differ over time, especially as a child grows.
CP can cause weakness and a lack of coordination, or cause muscle tone to be stiff and contracted, or too relaxed. It can affect any combination of arms, legs, head or body. If the facial muscles are affected, it can make it hard to speak or eat. People with CP can have a hard time with balance and coordination, which makes it hard to complete daily tasks independently.
CP affects developmental milestones
Kids with CP are often slow at reaching developmental milestones like rolling, sitting, crawling and walking. They respond well to treatments like physical, occupational or speech therapy, and sometimes even surgery. These treatments are focused on improving one’s daily function and quality of life. Depending on the cause and severity of symptoms, many children with cerebral palsy are able to adapt and live full lives.
To read more about CP or the experiences of families who have adopted a child with cerebral palsy, check out Rainbow Kids !
Even better, visit our friends at Madison Adoption Associates to find out more about Maryanne and other CP kids on their waiting list! Just a reminder, you will need to request permission to view the children on the list. This extra step for you helps protects the privacy of every child.
Dustin Sends Goodnight Kisses
Dustin is hard to forget. Born in 2011, he’s easily remembered as part of the Shepherd’s Field family – but he can be a bit of a busybody at times! However, his caretakers enjoy his company, especially when he wraps his arms around their necks and kisses their faces when they put him to bed.
Dustin will express himself when he gets upset, but it takes only a short time to calm down. He loves watching TV and listening to music, but he really likes to dance around whenever he can, even though he’s listed as having post-op clubbed right foot, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. His right hand doesn’t work well, but his left hand is very fast.
At the time his adoption file was prepared, Dustin wasn’t speaking much, and would say only one or two words at a time – and not very clearly. He had club-foot surgery in December of 2016, and since then walks quickly, and always likes to be the first one to get home after school. He’d been taking medication for his epilepsy, but his file doesn’t mention anything about this need. Madison Adoption Associates is currently working on getting an update.
Simeon Brings Laughter
Meet Simeon – a child you’ll fall in love with instantly. He was born in September of 2012 with hydrocephalus as well as Myelomeningocele. Doctors placed a shunt in October of 2012, with a revision in April of 2013.
Simeon will make you laugh, smile and melt all at the same time. Once he knows you, you’ll have a buddy for life! Simeon loves snacks and has a way of getting people to give him his favorite ones. His sassy and silly personality can make anyone’s day, and he has one of the best laughs around. He was in our Bright Stars Therapy Program and always made it fun. We hope Simeon carries that same sense of humor into his search to find a Forever Family to share his joy.
Contact Madison Adoption Associates for more information on adopting Simeon!
Future Chef Maryanne
Maryanne is filled with warm, genuine light, as well as an inner and outer beauty that makes her simply radiant. She was born in 2007 and came into care as an infant, but finally had the chance to find a permanent family when her file was made ready in 2015 after several surgeries. In March of 2013, she had been sent to a special-care center to be fostered, where she underwent tendon release surgery, as well as surgery to repair her club foot. A couple of months later, she received successful surgery for a fracture, and recovered well.
CP doesn’t stop dreams
Maryanne has Cerebral Palsy and is post-op club foot. She’s a hard-working young girl, who doesn’t shy away from pushing herself at therapy – even when she feels a little pain. She can communicate well and do some writing, which she loves. Her real dream, though, is to become a chef, so she can make yummy treats anytime. Will you help us find Maryanne a Forever Family who will support those dreams?
Contact Madison Adoption Associates for more information on adopting Maryanne!