An outlying orphanage about 3 hours away called our director a couple of weeks ago and asked if we could find someone to foster Xiao Ming, a little 5 month old guy.
Here he is with our pediatric assistant, who recently told my colleague she wants to go on and become a pediatrician!
She has already completed medical school, and wants to get more training.
He had been diagnosed with pneumonia 3 times in his short little life and they were concerned he might have an immune problem.
He very well might, simply by virtue of living in an institution with the associated immune compromised state that results in those children from chronic stress and psychosocial deprivation, or he might have been misdiagnosed and it was actually an upper respiratory infection or bronchiolitis or something else that spreads easily.
In any case, we were excited that in this case the orphanage director wanted a child to get fostered and receive extra care.
A family with two young children offered to house him for the first few days, and another family has graciously offered to foster him for the duration, whatever that may be.
I went with our Chinese director to the foster family’s house on Tuesday as they signed some papers, and discussed some of the questions about feeding, sleeping, caring for a baby like him.
This delightful family has helped provide respite care for several of our other families while they have traveled or needed a break for other reasons.
The orphanage has generously allowed him to fostered on a one-year contract.
They also gave permission for Jeremiah, another foster boy who has hand deformities, to be made eligible for adoption and were going to start the paperwork process this week.
This seemingly pleasant cooperation in contrast to one of the other orphanages we work with, who said “we already have too many of their kids” and they should be in the orphanage where they belong.
Over Chinese New Year, a 3 month old child who was denied foster care, died.
In another orphanage, staff virtually disappeared for two weeks over the holiday, and several children also died.
Since then, our helper who goes there has been permitted marginally more opportunity to give extra food to the children.
For every step forward in one domain, there is a setback in another.
Or, one could say, for every setback, there is a step forward in another direction.
Leaders from a government church have been talking with some of our teammates, expressing an interest in becoming more directly involved in orphan and foster care.
It is in the early stages, but exciting to hear that people who thought fostering an orphan child was an unthinkable concept are starting to consider the possiblities.
Also, our director has been talking with a young woman about to graduate from university about taking on a social work-type role with the foster care program, which may start later in the summer after she graduates.
I would be one of the people directly involved in getting her up to speed.
As we continue to live and work here, I am increasingly aware of the pragmatic, utilitarian perspective that colors nearly every position and (tries to) eliminates moral dilemmas.
In a country with about a quarter of the world’s population, on land about the size of the US, harsh realities of limited space, limited access to good university and good jobs, and other aspects of survival, there is no time or space left to deliberate on “optional” ethical issues.
But more on that in another post.