No Room at the Inn
LWB currently has four healing homes in China, where we send babies who are either failing to thrive or who need specialized care, both pre- and post-surgery. Anyone who has visited or even read about these homes knows they have saved so many lives, as babies with complex medical issues definitely need 1:1 care. Every month is a juggling act, trying to figure out who can be discharged, how many beds we might have open, and when we can schedule surgery for a child and guarantee them a healing home spot for post-op care.
This past month, however, has been one of the most difficult I can remember. LWB has good relations with over 250 orphanages in China, and so at any given time we might have multiple orphanages calling us on the same day asking for help with very sick children. Of course we have a very limited number of beds in our homes, so the question is always: WHO GETS HELPED?
Today I just want to give a huge shout-out of thanks to the incredible women who volunteer in our programs, as they are asked daily to make some very tough, ethically complex decisions – ones that are made even harder when you realize each decision impacts the life of a child. Every day they have to ask themselves whether they can send a baby who is now healthy back to an orphanage which is overcrowded, especially if the child came to us in poor condition. They discuss whether it is better to save as many lives as possible by freeing up a bed, even if it means sending a now healthy child back to a less than ideal situation, or whether we should we save less lives but keep children longer in the homes until adoption.
The conversations never stop. Should we only accept children from orphanages where LWB has foster care in place so we can know they will continue to receive one-on-one care? But then what about all the small, rural orphanages who call us when they get in a child who needs specialized care to survive? Does saving a life trump possible attachment issues by returning children to meager institutional care?
Obviously there is no perfect answer to any of these questions, as these are decisions that involve the lives of children. I just want to ask you that when you lift up the kids in our programs, don’t forget that there are also lots of incredible people giving their time as volunteers who agonize and weigh every decision they have to make about a child. And this month, when there is truly “no room at the inn” for new infants in our homes, we are all struggling to find solutions for the babies who need immediate help today.
~ Amy Eldridge, Chief Executive Officer