From the Heart
Many of you live in the United States, as I do and will celebrate Thanksgiving this month. This is one of America’s most beloved holidays, because it’s a day set aside to give thanks for all our blessings. Often, we’re the most grateful for our families, and I’m no different. But beyond my immediate family, I’m also grateful for my Philip Hayden Foundation (PHF) family.
Isolation and uncertainty have heavily colored the last few years and affected all of our daily lives. To liberate ourselves, mental health experts remind us to practice gratitude, which can reduce anxiety and depression, and increase happiness. They often recommend writing down three things each day in a gratitude journal. However, if expressing gratitude is helpful, what if we also acted on our gratitude? Gratitude in action is thoughtful, creates change and helps others. The action can be big or small. It is often a gift of time or talent, but it can also be a monetary gift and always comes from the heart.
“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude,” says Cynthia Ozick, and that certainly rings true for me. Our family closeness – both emotionally and physically – is a real blessing, and something I cherish but sometimes overlook. There’s a sweet give-and-take in helping each other, in listening well and in connectedness. A recent study in Pediatrics noted that one U.S. child loses a parent or caregiver for every four Covid19-associated deaths. This means that from April 2020 to June 2021, more than 140,000 children 18 and under lost a parent or a caregiving grandparent who provided a home and basic care. The loss of a parent during childhood has a dramatic, lifelong impact.
Every Child Matters
Today, there are more than 600,000 orphans living in government orphanages in China, and nearly all have disabilities. In addition to those 600,000, there are another 500,000 that are de facto – or legitimate – orphans. China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs defines a de facto orphan as a child where one or both parents are unable to provide support because they’re ill, disabled or in prison. Beyond a need for basic care, orphans of all stripes need love, a sense of belonging and a purpose in life. We all need to know that we matter.
That’s what I love about our PHF family members, who believe that each child in China waiting for a Forever Family matters. And while we can’t help every child, we make a lasting difference in the lives of the ones we can help. Your actions reveal your heart. Some people pray, some donate time or money, some adopt or help others to adopt, and some share stories with the world. I believe all these actions come from your hearts of gratitude, and make a difference in children’s lives. Thank you for being part of our wonderful family!
Robert is Grateful
“My name is Robert Powell, and I came home from Shepherd’s Field at eight years old. I’ve been with my awesome family for about five years now. I have five other siblings adopted from China. There are ten kids total in our big and fun family. I have Arthrogryposis. It affects all the joints in my body. I had amputations of both my legs at age nine. I had more surgeries on one arm and one wrist at age ten. I now walk on two prosthetic legs and use my wheelchair for long distances. I will be fourteen years old in December. Life is great for me! I enjoy reading, art, Legos, and playing many different games. Lately, we have played a Dominos game called Chicken Feet. My favorite subject in home school is Math.
“My parents and I have learned a lot in our faith. We have gone through many challenges together. We are all learning to “do hard things” with Jesus’ help. When I came home, I learned that I am loved, and precious. I learned that I can trust my parents. We all get different medical care and counseling to help us understand big feelings. I think this helped me a lot.
“I am so thankful that I know Jesus and that God gave me a loving family. I am grateful for my loving parents and good doctors who help me. I know that God has a plan for me, and that I wasn’t forsaken. He knew me even before I was born. I want God to use my life and my story for His glory.
Charlie Gains Freedom through Therapy
October was Bone and Joint Health Awareness Month and we’d like to highlight sweet Charlie as a “poster boy” for the success of physical therapy. Charlie was born with arthrogryposis as well as bi-lateral clubbed foot, which was surgically corrected. When he first arrived at Shepherd’s Field, he was immobile. After surgery, our staff worked diligently to help him see his worth, and to encourage him to be as independent as possible. He progressed from a wheelchair to a specialized walker, and his success resulted in a huge, new smile!
Charlie then started intensive therapy, where he worked on mobility and flexibility – and he made great progress. We were all proud and amazed at his perseverance, even though not every day was a good day – but there was always tomorrow. To help make it all possible, donors like you generously provided various dressing aids and a specialized walker, so that Charlie could become more independent.
Our Bright Stars Occupational Therapist worked diligently with Charlie to improve his fine motor skills, and despite the difficulty, Charlie has beautiful handwriting. On one occasion, a therapist constructed an adaptive baseball bat for Charlie, so he could learn how to play the game. It wasn’t easy, but we all had a fun time chasing after balls and trying not to get hit once Charlie started swatting home runs!
Bone and Joint Disorders
This month we’re focusing on joint and bone disorders – two of the most common disabilities we see at Shepherd’s Field. And the two most common ailments? Arthrogryposis and clubfoot.
Arthrogryposis (arth-ro-grip-OH-sis), also called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), is a term used to describe a variety of conditions involving multiple joint contractures (or stiffness). A contracture is a condition where the range of motion of a joint is limited. It may be unable to fully or partially extend or bend.
While there is no cure, quality of life can be improved through therapy and using adaptive aids. Both physical therapy and occupational therapy are recommended to improve range of motion and foster independence. Sometimes surgery is also recommended to lengthen tendons, remodel joints, lengthen limbs or even correct the spine. The severity varies, so each case is unique. About one baby in 3,000 is born with AMC.
Clubfoot is often caused by a shortened Achilles tendon, which causes the foot to turn in and under, and affects twice as many boys as girls. One foot or both feet point down and in, and the toes point toward the opposite leg – the bottom of the feet face inward. Treatment – sometimes surgery – is needed to correct this condition.
A clubfoot cannot be straightened by simply moving it around. The tendons on the back and inside of the foot and ankle are shorter than typical, while the tendons on the front and outside are too long and stretched out. In the U.S., treatment usually begins one week after birth. A series of castings are used, followed by bracing. If treatment doesn’t begin this early, a series of surgeries are needed. The long-term prognosis is good, with most children eventually wearing regular shoes and participating in normal daily activities and sporting events.
Over the years, many children with clubfoot have called Shepherd’s Field home. Your donations have provided surgery and/or therapy for Charlie, Aubrey, Robert, Samuel and dozens of others. To learn more about arthrogryposis or clubfoot, check out seattlechildrens.org or hopkinsmedicine.org.
Give on Giving Tuesday
November marks the traditional beginning of the holiday season in the U.S., and the Tuesday following Thanksgiving is now referred to as Giving Tuesday, falling on November 30 this year. Facebook will again be matching donations on Giving Tuesday, and the Philip Hayden Foundation (PHF) will use your donations to help orphans in a rural area in China.
Over the past two years, PHF has continued to search for and expand its opportunities to make a difference in the lives of needy children throughout China, Asia, and the rest of the world. The Chinese government has worked hard to improve living conditions in its orphanages, and now many of these institutions have enough resources to meet children’s basic needs and provide education and therapy as well.
At-Risk Children Need Your Help
Many countries in Asia are now addressing the problem of specific children who are unable to live with their parents, due to a number of reasons. The parents may still be living but are ill, disabled, in prison or otherwise unable to care for their children. Some regions encourage group foster homes to care for these children. But resources are limited, and these at-children, who are called de facto orphans, need your help.
Our director, Lily, recently visited a foster home in a rural area in Asia that takes in these orphans. This foster home partners with a local hospital, but needs help meeting the basic needs of the children in their care. Lily noted that the caregivers show Father’s love to the children in their care. Your donations will provide food, caregivers, and training for new caregivers. Will you join us? Please give to help One at a Time in Asia.
We Want to Hear From You!
To share a story or ask a question, direct message us on Facebook or email Lori and Ally at firstname.lastname@example.org You can be sure we will not share your comments and stories without your permission. What you share with us can help shape our future changing the lives of orphans in China.
Access Your Account Online
Great News! We have updated our online donation system, and you now can access your account online. For your security, you will need to request access through a link on our website here. You’ll be asked to provide your email address, and a link will be sent to you. For your security, that link is only good for 24 hours. But you can access your account as often as you want.
Use your self-service page to:
- Update your physical address
- Update your email address
- Change your online donations
- View your donation history
- Print receipts for past donations
If you have any questions, please email Lori.Baxter@chinaorphans.org.