Monday, June 16, 2008
Veronica Solovey, a nurse at the Sumas Medical clinic, left, measures the height of Alex , 5 months, as J helps hold him steady at the Sumas Medical Clinic in Sumas on Tuesday, June 10, 2008. J has been caring for Alex for several months during neurosurgery conducted in Sacramento, Calif. Once has fully recovered from the treatment, he will be returned to his family in Haiti.
J, right, holds onto Alex, 5 months, as Veronica Solovey, a nurse at the Sumas Medical clinic, left, prepares to give him several shots at the Sumas Medical Clinic in Sumas on Tuesday, June 10, 2008. J. has been caring for Demosthene for several months during neurosurgery conducted in Sacramento, Calif. Once has fully recovered from the treatment, he will be returned to his family in Haiti.
J, center, holds Alex , 5 months, as Dr. Rod Thompson performs a routine medical check up at the Sumas Medical Clinic in Sumas on Tuesday, June 10, 2008. Smith has been caring for Demosthene for several months during neurosurgery conducted in Sacramento, Calif. Once has fully recovered from the treatment, he will be returned to his family in Haiti. Dr. Thompson donates medical care to children involved in international foster care to receive medical treatment.
ANOTHER FAMILY HELPS
In early May, K. stood vigil, physically and emotionally exhausted, in a Sacramento, Calif., hospital room.
Alex, the 5-month old Haitian boy in her care, had just been through his second neurosurgery in two weeks, to repair a hole in his skull that had allowed part of his brain to push out and form a bubble over his nose. The deformity, which untreated can cause severe medical complications and even death, is called an encephalocele.
"I didn't really realize how emotionally it would affect me," said K, who has three young children of her own. "Even though he's not my child I was very nervous. I felt like I was going insane sometimes just from the travel and everything."
K, a stay-at-home mom, and her husband J, had long talked about adopting. After meeting the another family through a home school program, it was settled — the couple started the process of adopting a 2-year-old Haitian boy nearly a year ago.
While visiting the infant in March, Alex's medical visa coincidentally came through, and the Smiths eagerly agreed to be his host family as they waited for their adopted son.
"Having a baby in the house isn't weird or unusual," said J, "but it is humbling to know that somebody in another country who had no hope whatsoever is willing to give you their child. Everything is resting on us to care for this child and bring him back safely."
A month after Alex's last surgery, the swelling in the bump on his nose has gone down slightly, and the Smiths hope he'll need no more neurosurgery. The family monitors Alex for signs of vomiting, headaches and seizure activity, potential side effects of his condition.
"He's very happy and smiley all the time," K said. "He loves the kids and loves J especially. He's fit in really well."
In about six months, the Smiths will say goodbye to Alex, returning him to his family in Haiti. And though it's a sign of success, it won't be easy.
"It makes me sad because I know that the medical situation is so limited that if anything would come up it would be hard for him to have care," K said. "It scares me, but I feel like it would be very positive for his village to see that they don't need to treat kids born with these defects differently."
The Smiths said host-parenting Alex has changed their lives and their children's lives dramatically.
"(Alex) was a complete stranger, and to decide we're going to give everything we can to him really changed everybody in our family," K said. "I used to be a lot more superficial. I cared about the kind of clothes I wore and that kind of thing.
"Before I learned what conditions were like in Haiti, I hadn't really wanted to think about it. Now, knowing that my son is in those conditions right now really made me want to make a small change, and I feel like I'm doing something while I'm waiting."
J said he and K are taking what God has given them and trying to bless others with it.
"The biggest thing is just prioritizing. Are we going to use our money to help somebody or are we going to go out and buy a four-wheeler?"