'H3A' helps the 'undesirable' children
ON THE DAY of her birth, JP was found at a countryside park, abandoned by her biological family for unknown reasons. A policeman patrolling the area found her a few hours later. Wrapped in soiled bedding, she was taken to the city's social service office and placed at a home for abandoned children. Once it was determined that JP's parents' identity was truly unknown, she was formally a ward of the state and placed on the "for adoption" list within the Department of Human Services.
HELP KIDS FIND HOMES
A fundraiser for Hawaii Hearts Helping Adoptions will be held next Saturday. The program will include:
» informational lectures by therapist Carla Sharp, physical therapist Jamie Mitchell, and speech and early intervention presentations;
» performances by Halau Pukaikapuaokalani and Amber Ricci;
» pupus and drinks.
Proceeds go to benefit orphan, foster and adopted children with disabilities in China and Brazil.
When: 5-10 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 30
Where: American Association of University Women (1802 Keeaumoku St.)
Cost: $15 in advance, $25 at the door.
Ticket information: Call 261-3731
JP had no visible disabilities, so she was placed with the "normal" children in her facility. However, likely due to the rise in cases of abandoned infants coupled with a lack of staff and poor facilities, JP had to share her crib at night with three other babies. For safety reasons, they claimed, JP was tied to her crib at night. Again, because of a lack of staff, JP was rarely picked up or held by adults. Consequently, she was left in a flat position lying on her back for many hours during the day.
As JP matured into her months of life, she appeared to develop atrophy in her right arm and hand. Her right-dominant hand had very poor fine motor skills and two fingers had none. She was moved from the "normal children" to the "disabled children" category of an orphanage.
ACCORDING to the UNICEF Children on the Brink 2004 report, by the end of 2003 there were 143 million orphans between the ages of 0 through 17 in 93 countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Due to cultural differences in determining the meaning of "disabilities or health impairment," we currently do not have a clear percentage of the number of children who are orphans and disabled. However, we do know that being institutionalized increases and often creates more psychological and physical disabilities.
We also know the common health issues of orphans. The Orphandoctor Web site reports that common health issues evident in orphan children from various countries include many long-lasting, disabling conditions such as hearing impairment, blindness, muscular dystrophy, cleft palate, autism, mental retardation, reactive attachment disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and AIDS/HIV, among others.
IMAGINE coming into this world and being abandoned, perhaps by loving parents who, due to their country's birth quota that discourages, if not forbids them, from having more than one child; or parents, too poor to feed themselves, who reluctantly abandon you, trusting that at least the state system will feed you.
Then, because there are not enough hands in the orphanages, you are not given the loving care necessary to develop properly, which compounds any existing disabilities you might have been dealt from birth. And as the institutions, themselves, struggle to support the growing number of cases, they can bring in only student doctors, if any, to deal with the disabilities, illnesses and other special needs.
Finally, of the many parents willing to adopt children, most want the "normal children." And if you were fortunate enough to find parents who would take you as you are, disability and all, how many would be able to locate adequate medical support for you and pay for it?
OUR ORGANIZATION, Hawaii Hearts Helping Adoptions (H3A), is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to providing case management and care coordination to orphan, adopted or foster children who have physical or psychological disabilities or special needs. H3A offers hope for some of these seemingly undesired and abandoned children. H3A operates programs in Hawaii, Brazil and China.
At 10 months old, JP was assigned to a set of adoptive parents who were told of her right arm and hand disability. Her newfound parents not only desired to receive her as she was but were motivated to make things work.
Through the help of H3A, a process of finding medical interventions and funding support for these interventions, JP became a success story.
JP began receiving three-times-a-week physical therapy, weekly chiropractic and massage treatments, and was methodically stimulated by her family daily following specific guidelines. By her second birthday, almost one year after her arrival into her adoptive home, JP had almost completely recovered the use of her right arm and hand and significantly improved her gross and fine motor use of her two "lazy" fingers.
TODAY JP is 3 years old, a healthy, well-adjusted young girl who has achieved all the developmental milestones for her age group.
H3A needs funds to continue to meet the needs of the orphaned, adopted or foster children who are disabled or with special needs and their remarkable parents, who easily could have chosen to love the less impaired. Please join us at a fundraiser next Saturday (see box).
Samantha Tavares is the executive director of H3A (Hawaii Hearts Helping Adoptions). Sonia Fabrigas, an arts advocate, is a volunteer.