John’s Only Hope
At LWB, we always try to be as respectful as possible to the children in our programs. We always want to treat them with dignity, and because of that we are hesitant to ever publicly discuss certain medical conditions, as we believe they should remain private. Today I am writing about a little boy in rural foster care, however, who absolutely needs a permanent home to survive. And since he has waited over two years on China’s shared adoption list without being chosen, I am going to break our rule and discuss his condition openly – because I feel like saving his life is the most important thing right now. This eight-year-old boy is just too special to not get the long-term care he deserves.
When we first met John, he was only five years old. We learned that he was abandoned following a failed meningocele surgery, which left him with weak legs and feet that turned out to the sides. Sadly, it also left him with bowel and bladder issues. Early in 2010, he had been sent to a doctor in Henan Province who surgically placed something called a suprapubic catheter tube. It is basically a large tube that comes out of the child’s abdomen above his or her belly button. Urine then bypasses the bladder and instead continually drains into a bag that must be worn around the waist. In an ideal situation, this tube would have only been a temporary measure, and John would have had continual access to medical care, new catheter tubing, and clean bags.
But this was not the case for this little boy. He lives in a really rural part of China, with no ability to have ongoing medical care. Because of this, John was forced to live with a large permanent catheter (see the above photo) which leaked urine continually onto the ground. He told us that he wanted more than anything to go to school, and so we arranged for him to be enrolled. However, after just one day there, the school told him he could never return because he was “too smelly.” John was heartbroken, and at every opportunity he would pretend to go to school because he wanted so desperately to learn to read. His foster grandfather worked with him to learn some Chinese characters, but John’s dream of going to school has still never happened.
In September of this year, John became extremely sick. His catheter had become infected, and he began vomiting and was unable to eat or walk. We rushed him to the top children’s hospital in his province, but they looked at his catheter and said they could not help him. The tube was so infected, and they said he needed top specialists which they could not provide. We were so grateful when one of the best urologists in the world agreed to see John, and thankfully this surgeon was going to be in Suzhou, China for a medical trip soon after John became ill.
Our volunteers were there when John was getting on the train to go to Suzhou, and they said it was so incredibly depressing because this gorgeous little boy was standing in front of them with his urine bag leaking all over the ground, and everyone who walked by was clearly disgusted by him. In fact, when John got to the hospital in Suzhou, his caregiver told the surgeons that John had become shunned in his local community. She said that no one wanted to be near him any longer and that John’s spirit was being crushed.
When John learned that one of the best surgeons was going to see him, he had real hope in his heart. We received this wonderful photo of John in his wheelchair with his doctor.
Sadly, when the surgeon examined John, he realized that the operation he wished he could do for him could not be done since he would be discharged back to rural foster care with no medical access. He said it would be too much of a risk to his life to do anything but simply change out the size of his current catheter to a smaller one to stop the leakage.
His doctor wrote me and said this child has absolutely NO HOPE without adoption. He cannot survive long-term in rural foster care. He needs a family of his own to give him access to the medical care he needs. The surgeon was so moved by this little boy that he wrote the following words to us:
“John has spina bifida treated in China. He was cared for by a couple of 70 years old. Three years ago, he was in the hospital and a 20F suprapubic tube was given. The tube had never been changed. The local hospital refused to do anything about it, according to the caregiver who brought him to Suzhou. He could walk but with difficulty due to neurologic abnormalities. A year ago, he fell and fractured his hip.
This boy is shy and obviously unhappy. He is however very intelligent. I tried to cheer him up by talking about his future career as a boss, which made him smile. Other team members had spent time talking to him and he was quite open to receive them. John has received no schooling and has no social life. He is cursed by the locals and no one in his community wants to be near to him. He needs to receive proper education.
Practically, this kid is dying in every way. He is suffering both physically and emotionally. The despair in his eyes has obliged me to write this email. Urology care is only part of the picture, and could be unimportant anyway if his life is to be continued in the same way. I have been with sick orphans for years. I cannot remember when I last felt like this. This boy suffers not just physically. He is suffering emotionally every day. He is learning that there is no hope or trust for him in this world. I think he has given up himself. When I told him that he still needs the tube, his look seemed to say: “See, I knew that you were not going to help me.” I left him in Suzhou to be transferred back to rural China with no solid plan to give him hope.”
John desperately needs a family who can provide him with the medical care he needs to have a real future. He needs a family who will understand that he has never been to school even though he is eight years old. He needs a family who will realize that for almost his whole life, he has heard that he isn’t worthy of a chance.
I would ask that you please pass on this blog to anyone you know who has a heart for adoption. I honestly believe there is a family for every orphaned child. We just haven’t found them yet.
~Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer
John has an adoption assistance grant of over $7,600 to help towards his adoption expenses. Donations to make his grant grow can be made here; please write “Adoption Assistance Grant Fund for John from Fuyang” in the notes section.
We have put together the following video about John that we also invite you to share: http://youtu.be/QwfC4BglajM.
Love Without Boundaries proudly advocates for adoption but is not an adoption agency. We invite you to contact [email protected] with questions about a child we have featured and encourage you to contact your adoption agency for more information about China’s Waiting Child Program.