Andrew, Warrior from Kaifeng
I first heard about Andrew from our Kaifeng program just a few weeks ago. This was first photo I saw of him:
You can imagine how my heart swelled at his sweet face!
I wondered why he had been waiting many months for a family to match with him. It turned out that Andrew was born with a form of spina bifida, which is a life-long condition, making Andrew’s chances of finding a family slimmer than many other children. So, writing a post about Andrew became more challenging than I thought it would be.
Adoption is certainly about the desire to parent, but, when it comes to adopting children with known medical conditions, it is also about access to resources, as well as ability and desire to care for the child’s need. Andrew’s photos depict a happy little boy about to turn four years old. Yet, he requires more than many other children his age. What he needs is a committed family, with the resources, time and energy to care for him. Might someone fall in love with his sweet rosy cheeks and not realize the full extent of his needs? Or is there a family who will read this post and be prepared to parent and care for Andrew?
I read up on Andrew’s condition (meningocele/myelomeningocele), and I will admit it was a bit daunting. I wondered how an orphanage could care for this child the way that he needs to be cared for as he surely needs more one-on-one attention than I imagine they are able to provide. I realize now why his original foster mother decided he should go back to the orphanage; she felt she could not manage his care and wanted someone else to do more for him. It’s very obvious that Andrew’s very best chance at minimizing any deformities/difficulties and maximizing his capabilities in life requires a family.
Physical, occupational and speech therapy are important for children with Andrew’s medical needs. Everything I read about spina bifida says it is likely that the child will need a team of medical experts working with him after they are discharged from the hospital. Apparently, how well a child does depends a lot on the initial condition of their spinal cord and nerves; however, as time goes on, the full extent of a person’s needs will reveal themselves. Children born with myelomeningocele can often have paralysis or weakness of the muscles below the level of their spine where the defect is. As we have learned in Andrew’s case, he does not have function from his waist down. It is likely he will need medical and educational support for many years.
Andrew, just as his western name implies, is a little warrior. What a trooper, to have been through this intense surgical repair for his spina bifida, and yet be able to show us his goofy side.
To have such a light in his eyes!
Some of our volunteers visited Andrew recently and commented on how well he appeared to be doing. Without the ability to function from the waist down, he does not walk. However, like your typical toddler, he loves to play with his friends. He tends to get along well with other children, plays nicely and is not rough. In fact, he is quite well-behaved. The adults who are caring for him appreciate the fact that they rarely need to coax him into anything; he listens well and is and flexible.
Andrew is a bit shy around strangers, but he is polite and very happy to see our regular staff when they are able to visit him.
For Andrew, there are not many long-term opportunities for him, even though his needs are completely physical. I wish I could see what the future holds for this little warrior, but alas I have no crystal ball or real psychic capabilities…so for now, I hope to share the joy of Andrew’s sweet-faced personality and information on his needs with the hope that the rest will fall into place for him.
Meg Montgomery is an Adoption Assistance Advocate for Love Without Boundaries. She is a social worker, living and working in Boston, MA.
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 local adoption agency for more information about China’s Waiting Child Program.