Visiting the Henan Healing Home is always a wonderful experience. While this home might be small in size (with room for eight babies), it is HUGE on love.
We have been working with a rural orphanage over the last year that really struggles with their babies born with cleft lip. We have a very good partnership in place where they contact us about their newly abandoned babies, and we move them to our Henan Healing Home as soon as we can. In February, we had taken in two new babies who were both really vulnerable and tiny when they arrived. Some of you may remember when little Bennett and Abby arrived to our home, neither weighing more than 3 kg. As we got new pictures of them each week, I could tell that their faces were starting to fill out, but it was hard to gauge just how small they were since the photos were normally closeups of their faces.
When I walked into the Henan Healing Home a few weeks ago, I soon discovered that both babies are still SO tiny, but I am so happy to report that the wrinkles in their foreheads have now smoothed out and both are well on the road to recovery. In fact, both babies are on the surgery schedule for mid April when our cleft medical exchange in Kaifeng takes place.
We had such a fun day playing with the babies in the home. Jacob is a very healthy little boy who has an infectious grin that I could never quite capture on my camera. He was quite heavy to hold, but we think that is a wonderful thing!
Little Marieli has been in our care for quite some time. This tiny little girl was born with cleft palate, and her lower facial muscles do not seem to work properly. This makes it very difficult for her to smile, but she still managed to show us a tiny grin. Marieli loves anything that involves music, and so she was very happy with the new toys we brought that made sound.
Christopher is still a very tiny baby, but it is already quite clear what an intelligent little boy he is. He doesn’t miss a thing, and he takes in everything going on around him. He is still a wee bit under the weight requirement for surgery in April, so we are hoping the nannies can convince him to eat more so he can get a wonderful repair.
Baby Michael definitely stole my heart on this day. He was born with a cleft lip, cleft palate, and “cleft esophagus”, so feeding is still very difficult for him right now. We are anxious for our medical team to do a full evaluation on him and see what the best surgical treatment plan is. For now, baby Michael must be tube fed, and boy are his nannies wonderful with him! Some of you might know that before you do a tube feeding, you have to check to make sure the tube is still in the right place in the stomach, and then you use a syringe to slowly feed the baby. Michael wants so badly to eat on his own that he gets a little fussy when being tube fed. In order to make sure that he remembers how to swallow properly, the nannies then feed him by spoon just a bit after each session. He is really putting on weight now, and we would love any and all prayers that he can have successful surgery in April.
Our day in the Henan Healing Home ended much too soon, but I want to give a huge shout out of thanks to each of our incredible nannies who works here each day. Their patience, love, and dedication to the children is so very obvious. Each of the children in this home absolutely know what it means to be rocked, held, and hand-fed –- and those are beautiful things to a child who is struggling with medical needs.
We were able to take some video of the babies while we were there and put together this one-minute video to help our supporters get to know them a little bit better. Hopefully this will help everyone to see why we enjoyed our day there immensely!
~Amy Eldridge, Executive Director