In September last year we received a tiny little boy from one of our partner orphanages. He was brand new - the matted blood in his hair and fresh umbilical stump suggested he was just a few hours old. Baby Dong was born with a rare type of severe facial cleft. His appearance was so shocking that some who saw him wondered if he would even survive. We told them that we would be privileged to love and care for him, regardless of his prognosis.
We transferred little Dong to our Beijing home right away, where our experienced staff would be able to evaluate his needs and provide the special care he might require. And then we took him to an American pediatrician working at an international hospital, where he confirmed our suspicions - that aside from his unusual face, Dong was essentially an otherwise normal and healthy little baby.
In the past we have cooperated with the Dallas, TX based LEAP Foundation to provide surgeries for children with severe craniofacial malformations. We contacted Dr. Hobar and his team about little Dong and asked if they might consider helping him get the treatment he needs. This wonderful organization responded right away agreeing to provide the surgeries that will give him a chance at a normal life.
It's no small job to compile a visa application for an orphan to travel to the US for medical reasons. But since we've done it before we knew the routine and it only took two weeks (amazing - we must be getting good at this!) to get the application and supporting documents pulled together. Health insurance policies, legal guardianship papers, medical records, surgery plans, birth and identity documents, photos, documentation about host family and travel escort - and then of course, the actual visa application itself!
If all goes well and his application is approved, the plan is for Dong to fly to the US at the beginning of February. We are hoping to find a sponsor who can cover either the cost travel or donate the miles needed for Dong and his escort. If you would like to help with his travel please email us.
Dong is a very special little guy, developing like any normal 4 month old. He is starting to recognize his name when you call him and he loves to be held by his nanny. He's interested in toys, and of course - they go straight in the mouth!
Please pray that his visa is approved quickly, that we can get the air tickets we need during this busy (Chinese New Year) holiday season, and most importantly - that his surgeries in the US are successful. We think Dong is just perfect the way he is, but once he's had reconstructive surgery he'll be able to grow up and fit in anywhere, just like any other little boy.
UPDATE can be found here.