Physician speaks on adoption of China’s special needs children

By October 17, 2013

China (MNN) — In the first chapter of his book, the apostle James tells us to look after the widow and orphan in their distress. He calls it a “pure and faultless” practice accepted by God.

Orphans with a cleft palate are considered "special needs" children in China.(Image courtesy ReSurge International via Flickr)

Orphans with a cleft palate are considered “special needs” children in China.(Image courtesy ReSurge International via Flickr)

As domestic adoptions increase in China, special needs orphans are left in a state of “distress.” Adoption Associates is calling on Western believers to respond.

Dr. Allison Monroe says it’s a manageable challenge.

“The special needs are just…a part of their life; it doesn’t define who they are,” she states. “They really can thrive if they get a family.”

Monroe visited China this summer with Adoption Associates as they toured the facilities of a new partner: Urumqi Children’s Welfare Institute. It cares for around 400 special needs orphans, many of whom are in foster care.

Her role on the trip was primarily one of observation and confirmation of the children’s current assessments.

“I did do some physical examinations, but a lot of them, especially with the more moderate special needs, really would require a specialist,” Monroe explains.

The trip was meaningful on several levels for the physician. For one, Monroe adopted her daughter Sally from Urumqi in 2010. Along with meeting the fellow physician who cared for her daughter, Monroe was able to take in the city surrounding Sally’s former home.

“The first time I went there I was pretty overwhelmed with getting Sally, and we had my other children there, so I really wasn’t able to take in the sights and the culture,” she says.

Adoption Associates is trying to find forever homes for many of the kids Monroe met this summer. She says a lot of the special needs orphans don’t have severe challenges people think of when they hear the phrase “special needs.”

“There are a lot of minor special needs that, for lack of better words, that are do-able,” explains Monroe. “They don’t need daily medical attention.”

Sally was born with a cleft lip and palate, and is considered a “special needs” child in China. While her condition required a lot of medical attention initially, Monroe says the demand is much lower now.

“We have speech therapy, and we have Ear, Nose and Throat doctor visits, but it does not come in on a daily basis,” she explains.

According to information from CCAI Adoption Services, a China-focused adoption agency, an overwhelming majority of “special needs” orphans suffer from treatable, or at least manageable, conditions.

Around 23% have a cleft lip and palate, and approximately 16% suffer from major and/or minor heart disease. A combined 13% have either hearing or vision impairments.

“There are so many things like cardiac defects that sound so scary, but if they’re corrected early, or they’re monitored, they’re not what I would consider a big medical problem,” says Monroe.

Is God putting international adoption on your heart? Monroe suggests you do your homework. Adoption Associates offers transracial and transcultural training for families look to adopt from China.

On the flip side, obtaining trustworthy information about the children themselves is sometimes a struggle.

“That’s why this partnership is so wonderful — we’re going to be able to get more information [about the kids],” says Monroe. “We know who it’s coming from and that we can trust these people, and that they have the best interests of these children at heart.”

For more on adopting special needs orphans from China, click here to visit Adoption Associates’ website.

Pray special needs orphans come to know Christ’s love and acceptance. Pray for staff and children at Urumqi CWI and Adoption Associates’ efforts to raise funds to assist them.

Pray older children at the orphanage find forever families.

“They are really some of the most forgotten kids, because there is less hope for them to live fulfilling lives,” explains Monroe.

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