Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Just in time!

 Over the years that we have been helping children in China, we have developed close working relationships with a vast network of doctors, nurses, and specialists in many pediatric fields.  We have seen their kindness and dedication again and again when they come together to provide life saving medical treatment for our little ones.  We were humbled once again to see them spring into action when we needed a miracle for little TX.

 Newborn TX arrived at a local orphanage in North China in critical condition.  It was clear that he had some kind of gastrointestinal emergency, so he was admitted to the small, local hospital right away.  They were unsure of his diagnosis and how to proceed.  

At the same time, the orphanage leaders called us and asked if we might be able to help.  Within a few hours we were able to coordinate an ambulance transfer from his province to Beijing, where he was admitted to the NICU for further diagnostic testing.  He had surgery shortly after that for a life threatening bowel obstruction.

Little TX has had a few complications during his recovery, but he was finally strong enough to discharge to our medical home in Beijing.  He’s being closely monitored as he continues to recover and is making up for the kisses and cuddles that he missed out on while he was in the NICU.  

Everyone involved in his story – from his orphanage leaders to the doctors in Beijing -  have been amazed at how quickly we were able to jump into action and get him the specialized care that he needed before it was too late.  We are very grateful for all of you who have chosen to support us in this work.  You are making a difference every day for little ones like TX.

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Made for Love - Trauma Responsive Care

 We believe that every child has the right to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment. For the children in our care, it is crucial that they are also treated with a compassionate and understanding approach that accounts for past trauma. We know that trauma changes the way children interpret the world around them, the people in it, and where they belong. It shapes and impacts children’s emotions, behavior, memory and ability to learn.

Most of the children who come into our care have experienced trauma, such as abandonment, loss of parental care, chaotic family situations, and sometimes invasive medical procedure and prolonged hospital stay. These stressful experiences can adversely affect a child’s sense of safety and stability, which leads to difficulties in forming close and healthy relationships. 

This requires that we adopt a trauma-responsive frame of mind in all aspects of our work. It means that we not only have a good understanding of the impact of early trauma, but we also need to be able to recognize the signs and behaviors of trauma. 

Children who have experienced trauma may exhibit a range of behaviors that indicate their inner struggles. These can include withdrawal, aggression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and hypervigilance. Recognizing these signs (and NOT regarding them as trouble-making or attention-seeking) is crucial for providing appropriate support and intervention. 

For example, one day a child slapped one of her classmates in school. The classmate had patted her on the back, wanting to tell her to stand in the line. This was seen as a serious breach of school rules, and our group home manager was informed. Knowing the background of this child, the group home manager understood that this child was not meaning to hurt her classmate, but it was a fight-or-flight response to what seemed to be a "sudden strike" in the eyes of this child. After discussion with the school, this child was given opportunities to amend her wrongs and make things right with her classmate. 

To provide trauma-responsive care also means making deliberate efforts to build a sense of connectedness with the child. Many children who were impacted by interpersonal trauma have difficulties building and maintaining meaningful relationships. In order to help them, it is our job to create a supportive environment where they feel seen, understood, respected, and cherished. 

We provide children with supportive environments through our family model of care and our early learning classrooms, where they can experience positive relationships. In their everyday life, we try to provide predictability and consistent routines. They helps maintain a sense of security for the child. Being able to know what to expect every day reduces anxiety and help children feel more in control. We also create opportunities for children to make choices. This helps them regain their sense of control, practice agency, and learn to be responsible for their choices. 

We are also providing ongoing trainings for staff members to ensure they can consistently provide trauma responsive care.  It is our job to understand the impact of trauma, to recognize its signs, and to respond with compassion and connectedness, so that we can help the children find hope and possibilities for their future.