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His First Tooth . . . A Bittersweet Day

Philip came to the Cleft Home when he was only 2 ½ months old. The weekly vignettes that go into each child’s report usually make me smile as Zhang Ming tells us about life with the children and nannies. Just by reading a few child reports you can tell that they know these children’s personalities so intimately that it almost puts me to shame at how little I documented my own children’s personalities when they were babies.

This month, I read about Philip and, instead of the usual smile on my face, as I got to the end I had a mixture of sadness and gratitude for the staff for giving so freely of their hearts to the children.

On October 13th:

Philip is becoming naughtier after the surgery. He now likes protruding his mouth and smiling to you with his eyes contracted. Sometimes Philip puts his thumbs up as if to say, “I’m the best and the good baby.” Philip now has a bad habit of biting things. When he is going to sleep, he will surely bite his blanket. When you hold him, he might bite your shoulder…. It seems that only when his mouth has something, can he really feel calm.

I said to myself, I bet the reason he is acting naughty is because he is teething. Sure enough, two weeks later we got this report, but with an ending I was not expecting:


One day when his mom was playing with him, Philip grabbed his mom’s finger to his mouth, and his mom found he had grown a tiny tooth. This was a very pleasant surprise. I was so happy. But his nanny sobbed that the news came he would be sent back to Fuyang in the afternoon. That day, I held Philip in my arms for the whole afternoon. The day we found he got a tooth became an unforgettable day for Philip and me. It was October 28th. When I put him in the car, I said to his ear, “Good luck to you and best wishes.” He seemed to understand what I said and cast a smile to me. A sad feeling of parting overwhelmed me and I couldn’t help crying.

Philip is now in LWB’s foster care program in Fuyang and just this week found sponsorship though our Spanish LWB supporters. I have the deepest gratitude for the loving care that the staff at the cleft home gives to the children, and I have the deepest gratitude for our cleft home and foster care donors who make these stories of love and caring possible through their support.

Heidi Reitz
Foster Care Director
Healing Homes Director

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