Keeping Families Together
In 2005 one of the LWB directors was traveling to our cleft exchange in Henan Province. On the train he saw a young couple holding a baby boy with cleft lip, and the mother was quite distraught. After watching them for a while, he introduced himself and asked where they were going. It was then that the mom broke down and told him that they were from a province far out west. They did not have the funds to pay for the surgery to repair their baby’s cleft lip, and so their extended family had told them that they must abandon the child so as not to bring shame to the family. They were so ashamed by what they felt they had to do that they were traveling all the way across China to abandon him. When our director called to let us know what was happening on the train, we decided to encourage the couple bring him to the cleft exchange site so that our medical team could repair their baby’s lip. Instead of returning home to their home province in despair, they joyfully returned home with a baby who had been healed. For many years we have remained in touch with them, and the family is doing beautifully. It was experiences like this chance encounter that made us realize that perhaps we could help rural families stay together, instead of having to make the terrible and tragic decision to abandon their child in the hopes that their children would then receive medical care.