History: Zoe (now 5) was born in Taiyuan, Shanxi and when we went to adopt her, I knew I was going to have to go back and help some of the orphans "left behind". So I started a project "SHOES" (stood for Sharing Hope for Orphans and Every Soul). We took shoes, socks, clothes, medical supplies, school supplies, etc. and delivered them to that orphanage as well as surrounding areas.
In the process of doing that, I found favor with the orphanage director and some other governmental officials. A relationship was born. Maybe I can post some links to some of our trip blogs one of these days.
The last trip over was in November 2009 and we came home knowing we wanted to start the Zoe House, a foster group medical home. We already have some staff who are ready to come on board. Then some developments happened in my life (aka Manny) among other things and we put things on temporary hold.
CURRENT: We are back in full swing, ready to get this home up and running. Many, many things need to come together. But the basic vision is this ... take (mostly) newborns who have severe craniofacial abnormalities. Put them in our group medical home. Give them the proper nutrition, medical care, surgeries, etc. necessary. Once they are stable, they will go to live in a local foster home. And once the paperwork is done, be adopted.
Why Craniofacial? The needs are so huge, you pretty much have to "specialize" so the caretakers become experts in caring for a certain need. The relationships with the doctors and hospitals are also important. Craniofacial is one of the most common special needs. These babies are also very time consuming to feed so they often do not get the proper nutrition in typical settings and many die as a result. And finally, I have developed a relationship with several great craniofacial surgeon teams who are willing to go over and do some surgeries on mission trips.
What types? While cleft lip and palate is the most common special need in the world, it is also one that has a lot of medical teams who help perform these surgeries. So yes, we will have babies with cleft issues. But we're really wanting to take the babies with the more complex issues. The ones who would die without specialized care.
Where will the home be? Because of the wonderful medical facilities and great access, we are looking to put the Zoe House just outside of Beijing.
What will the home be like? We are currently having a person look for areas as well as types of housing, cost of housing, etc. We are open to several scenarios. But our initial thoughts are a first or second floor of an apartment building or a home. We envision 3-5 bedroom home. This way we could take up to about 10-15 children before we would need to expand.
What can you do to help? Oh ... where to start. Basically everything. Funding is our first hurdle. We are eventually going to do the "sponsor a baby" like most of the organizations do. But until babies are in the home, we have to do it another way. So we're brainstorming ideas right now. Grants, corporate matching, corporate donations, etc. are high on our list of needs. We also need a database person to help us design and run a database for all the info that will be coming in on both sides of the world. More needs to be posted soon.
Why have we named it the Zoe House? Zoe means life. Can't think of a better name than "Life" for children who would likely die if it wasn't for this home.
So basically ... we're at the bottom floor of a grand new adventure. I cannot wait for the chance to post the first picture of the first baby in the home.