On our first full Superkids trip to Taiwan there was something palpable that needs to be shared: hope. Kids are brought to Chung Yi and Cathwel to be protected. But these organizations offer even more than that. They offer rehabilitation; they offer love. Yes, they are still orphanages, they are temporary, they can never provide what a forever family can. But they are a very hopeful start.
We met several young children, toddlers and preschoolers, who are proof of what a supportive environment can do. We met Dani, vivacious little Dani. She was a premie, born at just 23 weeks. Let that sink in for a minute... that is very early. She has lived with her foster family for three years. She has received consistent early intervention including OT, PT and ST, and support from her social workers. She is about to turn 4 years old and she is thriving! She runs, talks in a raspy little voice, and has the most contagious giggle.
We also met Douglas. He is just 19 months old and has the chubbiest cheeks you can imagine. He's the kind of kid that is happiest to sit and watch... and cuddle whenever possible. But his nannies know this and are working to find ways to get him moving. He also gets early intervention services to stimulate his development. He has started to say a few simple words and use gestures like waving bye-bye.
Next is Darla. She is 3 ½ years old. She is adorable. While the diagnosis is not official, she likely has mild diplegic cerebral palsy. This means only her legs are affected with movement difficulties. Again we were so impressed by how proactive her care was. She had braces for her ankles to keep her feet in a good position so she can walk. She has a mild eye weakness that they were addressing with patching. She gets early intervention services. She was quiet, but did ask "why are you taking my shoes off?" But she must be a talker because her nanny told me her favorite thing about Darla is that "she says really sweet things to us." When she wears her braces she can walk, run, climb furniture, even go up stairs by herself. So much of her success with movement is due to the amazing services she has received!
Not to be outdone by the one and only Dylan. He also has mild diplegic cerebral palsy. He is 22 months old. He is an enormous flirt - he blows kisses at all the ladies in the room. He smiles and giggles about everything, most specifically bubbles. He builds a short tower with blocks, does simple shape puzzles, kisses his reflection in the mirror. He is starting to follow commands when they are accompanied by a gesture. Dylan loves to rough house and be tickled. He wears braces (AFOs) on both feet that help him walk all by himself.
Finally, sweet little Damien. This guy just turned two... and he had a hard start. He entered Chung Yi only three months ago. He has received consistent caregiving, speech therapy and physical therapy. And they have started to see him come to life. He has made so much progress. He imitates sounds and has started to babble with not just vowels sounds, but consonant sounds too. He also uses gestures to express his needs. He walks, squats and loves going up and down the slide. He looks at his reflection in the mirror and is very interested in playing with and holding the baby doll. His is starting to be able to do shape sorters and stack cups with just a little bit of help. The nannies said "kiss" and he puckered his little lips. What a difference a supportive environment makes!
All of these kiddos have developmental delays. Of course they do. These kiddos have had a rough start. However, they are making loads of progress. And they are receiving the developmental supports they need to keep improving - the thing that would fully tip the scale would be a forever family. The permanent love and consistency a family can provide is the one thing an orphanage setting can never offer. But you can. Maybe one of these kiddos is your child?
|Superkis team and ChungYi staff|
To learn more about any of these children, please be in touch with Taiwan Program Caseworker, Mary Chapman at firstname.lastname@example.org.