BIRTHDAY:   July, 2008

God saw what the passengers in the trains rushing past could never see outside their windows. Lying in a dark, cold ditch beside the tracks and wrapped in a thin cloth with a small note pinned to the front, the baby’s piercing cry roused the angels. He was never alone… not from the moment hands placed him on the ground and then turned and walked away. God was always near, and the Father who never abandons or forsakes his children orchestrated events in a divine way – bringing salvation and life to a little child left for death in a dark, cold ditch. According to the note pinned to the cloth wrapping up his small body, Judson was born at around noon on July 30, 2008. He was found on July 31 and brought to the orphanage around noon the same day. We’ll never know all that happened in Judson’s life in his first 24 hours, but the fact that he was found alive in that ditch beside the railroad tracks was the first miracle among many.

When the orphanage doctor unwound the cloth, the reason for the child’s abandonment grew painfully obvious.His stomach and intestines were exposed, a congenital birth defect called gastroschisis. Judson weighed about 4.5 pounds, but his strong cry told all who stood around that he was a fighter. In addition to the birth defect, Judson suffered from the effects of hypotherlena after his first night of life was spent outdoors, unprotected in a high-altitude province where the cold night’s breeze reminds all that winter is never far away.

Realizing the severity of the child’s case, the orphanage doctor immediately took Judson to the hospital, where he was told that it would be mere hours before Judson would die. But Judson didn’t die. On August 1, the orphanage director called our foster home, deciding that if Judson wanted to fight, he deserved a chance. The director asked if we could help; we told him we could, if they could get him to us. Later that afternoon, the hospital staff told the orphanage that Judson was worsening, and that surgery would be a lost cause because he couldn’t possibly make it. The orphanage director decided to wait until the next day to see if Judson was still alive. Though none of their treatment or interventions should have worked, Judson was touched by the Divine Healer during the night, and on the morning of August 2, the surprised hospital staff told the orphanage director that Judson was improving, but he needed surgery soon if he was to have a chance. It was a surgery the local hospital couldn’t do, so the orphanage called us again, asking if we were prepared to take his case. We told them to bring him to Beijing as quickly as they could. The director’s last words to us were, “Though we don’t think he can make it, he deserves a chance.”

When one considers all the needs an orphanage must fill with an incredibly small budget, it is nothing short of a miracle that the orphanage director decided to invest considerable resources in a child who he thought probably wouldn’t make it. But, he purchased two airline tickets to Beijing for the same afternoon, sending Judson to the capital with the orphanage’s doctor and nurse. Before boarding the plane, however, Judson faced two more hurdles. The airline said that a child under two weeks old couldn’t fly, and they would not allow anyone with a stomach tube or catheter to board the plane. In a desperate attempt to give Judson his only chance at survival, the orphanage director created new documents, saying that Judson was two weeks old. And, the hospital removed the stomach tube and catheter, wrapping Judson’s abdomen up as best as they could for the journey. Getting on the plane with a newborn infant who very well may not get off the plane alive must have been a terrifying experience for the doctor and nurse responsible for his care, but God’s presence was there in that moment… calming fears and sustaining life. It seems people can sense the Father’s presence around Judson’s life, for the flight attendants paid special attention to their youngest passenger. Upon landing early in Beijing, the flight attendants ushered the doctor, nurse, and Judson off the plane first, sending him on his way with a small Olympic bookmark, on which they wrote, “We hope you recover from this soon and that you lead a very happy life.”

At 4:30 in the afternoon on Saturday, August 2, our staff was at the gate when they walked off the plane – a milestone no one expected Judson to reach. An ambulance was waiting at the airport to take everyone to Beijing Children’s Hospital, where the emergency room staff was expecting us to arrive and had an operating room on stand-by. In China, ambulances are not given right-of-way, but the Defender of the Fatherless was clearing a path for this child, and the ambulance had permission to use the newly formed “Olympic Lanes” for official Olympic traffic, getting him to the hospital in 20 minutes, when normally it would have taken at least an hour and a half. Rushed into the emergency room, Judson’s check-in procedure was expedited, and by 6:00 p.m., Judson was being evaluated by Beijing Children’s surgical staff.

Again, the prognosis wasn’t good. His tissue had suffered significant damage from hypothermia, and his gastroschisis was more severe than most since it wasn’t just his intestines, but also his stomach, that was exposed. The first 2 surgeons who evaluated Judson told us that surgery wasn’t going to help; he was going to die no matter what, and to do surgery would be putting him through more trauma and would be a waste of resources. But Judson had come too far for everyone to give up on him, so we persisted and said that as long as he was alive, he had a chance. Realizing we were committed to operating on Judson, the doctors called in the chief surgeon, who gave us an equally bleak prognosis. Ten percent – that was Judson’s chance of living through the next few days. The surgeon gravely told us that they’d done hundreds of similar surgeries, and they’d never lost a single child. But, he believed Judson would be the first loss, due to the severity of his case and the damage caused by hypothermia. He was willing to try, though, and we told him we wanted to move forward with treatment because we believe our God is a Healer who moves in the 10 percent as well as the 90 percent, and so Judson was prepped for surgery.

At 9:30 on Saturday night, Judson entered surgery, and by 11:15 p.m., he was finished. In addition to treating his gastroschisis, they discovered during surgery that Judson had gastric perforations in two places, which they closed. Overall, the surgery was a success, but only time would tell if Judson could make it. The surgical staff told us the first three days would be the most critical. During that time, he would be most likely to succumb to the effects of hypothermia, and the efficacy of the surgery would become apparent. Sunday afternoon the hospital reported that he was not getting worse and that his status was okay; a positive report overall. By Monday, the hospital told us that though he hadn’t obviously improved, he was not getting worse and they thought his condition was good. He made it through the first two days of his three day critical stage, and we fully expect to continue getting good reports.

We know that the Father was in that ditch with Judson, and the reason he didn’t die of hypothermia is that he was being held by the One who wants to restore all things. We believe that the reason he made it to our foster home and through surgery is because the Creator was moving on the hearts of all the people in charge; gently prompting their spirits to not give up and reminding them that every life has dignity and purpose. And, we know the reason that he is stable today is because the Great Healer is touching his little body in that isolation unit. Through Judson’s new life, we have seen clear examples that God moves mountains and the hearts of men to protect and rescue those He created. It causes us to catch our breath, for we see the mighty hand of God moving in extravagant ways for a child who was believed to be a lost cause, whispering of the day coming when justice prevails and all is made right; when babies aren’t discarded and all of creation isn’t groaning.

Update – August 7, 2008
Judson continues to make a miraculous recovery! On Thursday, August 7, his doctors told us that the effects of hypothermia are no longer life-threatening. His tissue is recovering from the damage. Also, the treatment for his gastroschisis involves a slow reinsertion of his intestines and stomach into his body, to prevent any kinks or trauma. That process is going smoothly, and they expect that it will be completed within a few more days, at which point they will close the incision. This was another area of concern, as the doctors did not think the process would go smoothly due to the severity of his case and his small size. He is also having bowel movements and urinating, positive signs indicating that his body processes are working properly and not shutting down! At this point, the doctors do not see any long-term intestinal damage, one of our biggest concerns. Little Judson is defying the odds and living in the 10 percent! He continues to need your prayers, but we are thrilled to see his incredible progress and we recognize it for the miracle that it is.

Update – August 15, 2008

Judson’s second surgery was a success! All of his intestines and stomach went back into his body, and they were able to close his stomach on Wednesday, August 13. He will remain in ICU for at least 2 weeks. In about one week, they will begin to feed him formula. So far, his nourishment has been coming through a feeding tube. When his body begins to process the formula, we will be able to see whether or not his stomach or intestines suffered any long-term damage. While we wait to see the health of his intestinal system, the doctors are closely monitoring the wound. Due to residual damage from hypothermia, the skin on the upper part of his stomach wasn’t as healthy as it needed to be. Therefore, it isn’t as resilient, and there is some risk that it could split, reopening the stomach area. Please continue to pray – for his skin to heal and for his stomach and intestines to function properly!

We are getting reports that Judson already is having an enormous impact on people around the world. One woman shared his story with a friend, and that woman and her husband are now seriously thinking about adopting a child internationally after being so moved by Judson’s story. We are thankful that his life already has such deep meaning and purpose – He’s living proof that we never know how God will use each of us.

September 4, 2008
Defying all the odds, Judson came home today! He does not need any medicine, and he is drinking formula! His intestinal and urinary systems are functioning properly, which is another miracle considering the severity of his case! He looks incredibly good; nothing like the baby who came to us 1 month and 2 days ago with a 10 percent chance to live!

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DISCLAIMER: We provide this information to give our sponsors and supporters a general idea of the challenges our children face. For prospective adoptive parents, this information is not intended to be a substitute for a complete and up-to-date referral packet from your adoption agency. Please keep in mind that in our communications, we always try to focus on a child's strengths, accomplishments, and positive developments, not in an attempt to gloss-over their often serious medical conditions, but in an effort to share a glimpse of their precious personalities.

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