From the Heart
Have you ever planned a BIG family vacation or experience? Did you read about your destination or ask friends for recommendations? Travelers often plan their sightseeing or activities based on personal interests and values, perhaps museums, waterfront activities, or local restaurants. For example, when we traveled to China to adopt our daughter, we were eager to visit places of interest like the Great Wall and the Summer Palace, eat in local restaurants, and even visit museums in our daughter’s province. But even a vacation experience is nothing compared to adding a child to your family.
The joy of expecting a longed-for child is a unique experience, especially for first-time parents. The parents-to-be are filled with excitement and plan every detail. Even as an adoptive parent, I was filled with anticipatory joy. We have hopes and dreams for our children: strong family relationships, positive character qualities, and even academic, athletic, or business success.
Just over 5% of the time, a child is born with a congenital disability or is later diagnosed with a developmental delay. Some of these needs are medically treatable and resolved, others are treatable but lifelong, and finally, some are just not treatable. Even if a disorder is treatable, a parent may or may not have the resources to access that needed medical care. Philip Hayden Foundation meets the medical and therapy needs of vulnerable children. Two decades ago, many parents in China could not afford medical care, and parents either abandoned their children so they could receive medical care or they had to leave those needs unmet.
Developmental delays are not always apparent at birth. But every state in the US has an early intervention program for children birth to age three who need access to therapy when a child falls far behind in meeting developmental milestones for typically developing children. Unfortunately, Mexico and China do not have the same wrap-around services, and families navigate the harrowing journey alone. PHF is finding new ways to support families who have decided to parent their children with disabilities.
I’m reminded of the well-known story shared among new parents of children with disabilities, “Welcome to Holland.” In this story, written by Emily Perl Kingsley, the author has prepared for a trip to Italy. After much preparation, the traveler sets off for Italy but lands in Holland. While Holland has beautiful, unique sights, it is not Italy. Until the traveler adjusts to the new destination, they cannot experience the delights of Holland. This analogy resonates with many new parents of a child with disabilities.
While this analogy helps understand the initial emotions, it does not address the ongoing challenges and worries faced by parents of children with disabilities. Another author, Kristen Groseclose, writes, “Being comfortable with ambiguity, and holding joy and sorrow at the same time helps us develop an emotional resiliency that allows us to be the parents we need to be. And that, unfortunately, doesn’t happen instantaneously with a diagnosis. It may take years to make sense of it all.
PHF partners with Hope Station in China to support families with children with disabilities and with Red de Ciudadanos de Mérida in Mexico. Your donations help keep children with disabilities in their families. Thank you!
Supporting Families and Children with Special Needs in China
Imagine what it would feel like to say goodbye to your child because she was born with special needs.
No parent should have to even contemplate abandoning their child. And yet, this is the reality for so many parents of children with special needs in China.
Raising a child with Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, or other special needs can mean a difficult life of medical bills, lack of education, and social isolation for the entire family.
Hope Station’s Family Strengthening Program helps families raising children with special needs to stay together.
Counseling and encouraging these brave parents is an integral part of this support. The pressures they face are overwhelming:
“My son Junxi was diagnosed with a degenerative bone disease. Because of the unique diagnosis, he had to receive long-term treatment and medication. Our family’s financial situation was very difficult. His cognitive understanding and motor coordination were very poor. Junxi’s father and I were really troubled, and we broke down when thinking about our child’s situation.”
“Our family is under great pressure, so it is easy to give up…“
“In the past two days, we have consulted with the local government agencies about XiaoHang’s application for government subsidies, because XiaoHang is about to turn 18, and we want to apply for the government’s welfare subsistence allowance for him. But it is very difficult to apply. This makes me very frustrated and angry.”
Mental health counseling for parents is an integral part of supporting children with special needs. Families that do receive counseling and encouragement are better equipped to care for their children in difficult circumstances:
“I especially like to join the education sessions hosted by Hope Station, so that I can understand how to get along with my child, and become healthier and more relaxed physically, mentally and spiritually.“
“Hope Station not only helps my child, but also cares for me personally through mental health counseling, gives me great spiritual support, and helps me and my child walk out of our family’s collapse little by little!“
“Sometimes life feels very stressful. I’m very grateful to Hope Station staff for their concern for us. Last week they even scheduled a counseling session for me, which really helped me a lot.“
Your generosity keeps children in families. Thank you for supporting their brave parents during Counseling Awareness Month.
Medical Needs in Mexico
Meet 4-year-old Pedro. He has Treacher-Collins syndrome, just like Matías. Pedro needed facial surgery in Guadalajara to correct his cleft palate and fused joints. Check out our Facebook or Instagram for updates!
The surgery, hospital, medical fees and medications were donated by the Treacher Collins Mexico A.C. A 30-day per diem (both pre and post-surgery), hotel, food, and transportation was donated through Red de Ciudadanos de Mérida. Pedro needs a palate orthosis as well, and your donations through the PHF Medical Fund provided a portion of the expense for this necessary device. Pedro is currently in Guadalajara for his surgery.
Check out our Facebook or Instagram for updates! You can help Pedro and other children with medical needs through the PHF Medical Fund.
In March, 2-year-old Emma had the first of her liver biopsies. She does have liver cancer. One more biopsy will be completed in early April to confirm the diagnosis and plan the treatment – radiation and chemo beginning in May. Your donations to our Medical Fund, along with local donations to Red de Ciudadanos de Mérida, made the biopsies possible. Thank you for your continued prayers and support for this young girl and her family through PHF.
Supporting Orphans with Medical Needs in China
Philip Hayden Foundation supports the medical needs of orphans in China through the Healing Homes of New Hope Foundation.
Aimee is growing into a precocious young girl! She likes brushing her doll’s hair and can even tie her own hair into a ponytail. She enjoys playing pretend doctor and superhero, dressing up and flying around the room with her best friends Haley and Ellie. She likes to play with a toy “stomp rocket” and send the foam rocket soaring through the sky! She prefers singing over dancing, and numbers over letters, but she isn’t opposed to trying new things. Her little “sisters” Aliza and Julia love when she plays peekaboo with them or rocks them gently. Watching Aimee’s personality develop is a joy!
Angela is growing up and she has her two jiejie’s (older sisters), Sisa and Lakambini, to show her the ropes! She has been enjoying playing with them outside and riding toy cars together or playing catch. She’s been using a lot of new words to express herself. She likes creating artwork at preschool and remembers the songs she learned so she can sing them for her friends and nannies when she returns. We love watching Angela’s personality grow!