New Smile, New Life in America: Poppy’s Story.
Smile Train is an international children’s charity with a sustainable approach to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Millions of children in developing countries with unrepaired clefts live in shame, but more importantly, have difficulty eating, breathing and speaking. Cleft repair surgery is simple, and the transformation is immediate. Our sustainable model provides training and funding to empower local doctors in 85+ developing countries to provide 100%-free cleft repair surgery in their communities.
Several months ago Smile Train supporter, Kristina Lu, adopted her daughter, Poppy, from China. Poppy was born with a cleft palate, but thanks to Smile Train was able to receive free surgery. In her own words Kristina shares her story.
My husband read about Smile Train from the chapter in FreakonomicsTM soon after the book came out. We liked the way they ran their charity and we became donors for several years. We liked how Smile Train helps teach local doctors how to repair clefts instead of just flying in, doing some surgeries, and then heading home. It’s the whole “teach a man to fish” philosophy.
In 2013, we decided to add a third child to our family via adoption from China. We decided to adopt from China because my husband is an American of Chinese ethnicity. We thought that a child adopted from China would blend in well with our biracial family. We also knew we wanted to adopt a special needs child. Although we were open to different types of special needs, we were most comfortable with adopting a child with cleft lip/palate – some of our comfort coming from knowing about Smile Train and your mission.
We were matched by our adoption agency with our daughter Poppy, who lived in Pingliang, Gansu, China. After we came home with Poppy in June 2014, Smile Train was extremely helpful in providing us with the medical records that they had on her.
Poppy is doing really well now! She’s been home 6 months and it’s as if she’s always been a part of our family. She is best friends with her older sister and she adores her older brother. She’s loving gymnastics class and she enjoys singing and dancing at home. She loves playing with her (and her siblings’) Legos. She was very excited to dress up as Princess Anna from Frozen for Halloween this year. She tells everyone that will listen that she was Anna.
In the age of Facebook and social media, we were able to find Poppy’s connection with Smile Train and Love Without Boundaries. We were also able to connect with the parents of one of Poppy’s best friends in the orphanage (who also had her cleft surgery through Smile Train in Kunming at the same time) through Facebook. Her friend was adopted by a family in St. Louis. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we visited my family in Illinois and we were able to make a side-trip to St. Louis to have dinner with her friend and her family. At first, they were a little unsure of each other, then they took off like no time had passed since they had been together in Pingliang 6 months earlier.
We found it very touching to see that an organization that we learned about more than a decade ago has directly benefitted our daughter. Thank you Smile Train for helping Poppy and all the children that you affect.
The above article first appeared on smiletrain.org on Dec 16th, 2014.