Friday, June 1, 2012

How Superkids Began


JEANNIE'S STORY
BY JANET & STEPHEN FINK

In February 2005, we traveled with our son to Shanghai to adopt our daughter, Jeannie. Jeannie was a special needs orphan living at the Shanghai Children's Home (SCH), one of China's nicest and largest special needs orphanages.

Jeannie was placed in SCH at age three months because her eyes flickered rapidly and crossed (her eyes are now straight). Jeannie's special needs status made her difficult to place for adoption and we received her referral when she was almost two years old.

On Februrary 16th, we went to SCH to take Jeannie home. As we entered her nursery, a large gang of toddlers hobbled over, arms reaching forward calling, “Mama!” to each of us. We were overwhelmed with joy at seeing Jeannie dressed up for her special day in the midst of the chaos and happy cacophony of the SCH Snoopy room. The Snoopy room serves as home, dining hall, playground, and classroom for about twenty toddlers with various medical conditions – all happy, energetic, and wonderful.

Jeannie bonded with us immediately, especially when we helped feed everyone congee for lunch. Jeannie loved playing peek-a-boo with her new big brother, stacking paper, and taking walks outside in the rain. She was happy, inquisitive, and we were a terrific family of four.

Children with mild medical issues can show significant motor and speech delays. Although Jeannie was intellectually and physically healthy, her visual issues and monocular vision affected her development. She was afraid to walk and had trouble targeting objects, so her muscles atrophied. She walked pigeon-toed, falling down frequently. She could not feed herself, roll a ball, or turn pages in a book.

Jeannie started physical, occupational, and speech therapy as soon as we returned to New York. Within a month, Jeannie's feet straightened 70%, she fed herself (constantly) with a fork and only fell occasionally. Blessed with outstanding therapists, she started to catch up.

Jeannie made such astounding progress with therapy that we naturally wished she could have received these needed services in the orphanage. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all orphans could receive these vital services, even those without special needs! Early therapies would make a tremendous difference for hard-to-place children, who need and deserve all the advantages we can give them.

From these wishes, with the help of the Gladney Center and some incredible therapists, Superkids was born and took it's first trip to the Shanghai Children's Home in 2007. Since then, Superkids has expanded it's services to children living in Ethiopia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Taiwan. Please follow our blog to catch up on our latest trips. http://superkidscharity.blogspot.com/

 Janet and Jeannie

Jeannie is now nine and half. She is an outstanding reader and singer. She loves to swim, fence, and laugh everyday with her big brother.

Superkids is making it's 7th trip to China next week.  Superkids' physical therapist, Pat Marcus, will travel with Gongzhan Wu (Gladney VP and Director of Asia Programs) to Shanghai and the Jiangxi province.  (Read her post below to learn more about her u ).  Pat is passionate about advocating for orphans!  She gives them a voice and a chance to find a forever family.