I have to pause for a moment to mention that the 2010 Love Without Boundaries cleft medical exchange will be taking place in October in Fuzhou, China.
Love Without Boundaries is certainly not the only organization that provides cleft surgeries to children in need, but I personally donate a portion of my total sales every year to LWB because of their cleft healing home, their outreach, and because they work to provide foster care, healing homes, education, orphanage assistance and medical care for orphaned and underprivileged children in China. Our daughter did not receive surgery while she was in China, but she was lucky enough to be kept healthy while in her SWI, and to be adopted early enough to receive excellent medical care once she came to the US. These days, with the international adoption community in yet another state of flux, there are going to be children languishing in SWIs, in need of medical care, waiting for their fate to be determined.
LWB is looking for people to help sponsor surgeries for some of the children they will be seeing in Fuzhou this year. Above are just a few, along with one of the LWB medical teams. As you can see the two on the left are pre-surgery. The sweet boy on the right has had a lovely repair already, but needs another. Many people don't realize that cleft lip and palate is a condition that requires many years of surgeries, not just one or two. There are an entire team of surgeons involved, and the surgeries take place in stages over the course of many years.
I don't think I've showed this photo before, but this was the very first photo we saw of our daughter. We had been awakened that morning by a call from our adoption agency saying "I think it's time for you to be parents." We still had about 48 hours to decide whether we would accept the referral of this child. The moment was more tenuous than you might imagine, especially since we had already been through one referral - a referral for a child with kidney problems who, in a matter of days, turned out to be too sick to be adopted. Within days of our referral, that child's condition worsened to the point where she had to be removed from the SWI, and our adoption was canceled. So looking into the face of this little girl named for the autumn season, we felt all the weight, fragility and tenuousness of a small life, a life with an unknown future.
With little information (and a few misprints on her health record) we accepted the referral. In the next round of photos we received, we saw this smile. This is the smile - the smile that would light up our world.
The smile that lights up our world a thousand times a day. What would our lives have been without that smile?
So, when I see all those little faces, looking for someone to help them on the road to a healthy, happy life, I feel a pang for each and every one. On the LWB website, you can sponsor a child's surgery for as little as $400 (this is a real pittance compared to what a cleft surgery costs in a regular hospital her in the US - somewhere around $60k before insurance) or you can just donate a dollar, or two, or ten. Everything helps. While we were waiting to adopt Q, we helped sponsor a little girl who needed massive heart surgery. I can still see her face. I hope she is well and happy.