International Adoptions Focus of Ministry Outreach

Post a Comment » Written on December 18th, 2008     
Filed under: News
PADUCAH, KY (December 18, 2008) – Roger and Dawn Choate hope their ministry Healing Hannah not only will help families through the often emotionally intense process of international adoption, but also will strengthen orphanages overseas and encourage children in this country to assist orphans around the world.

The ministry was borne out of their own experience. “We really learned a lot the hard way,” says Dawn.

In 2004 the Choates (accompanying photo), who attend Four Rivers Covenant Church, adopted Hannah from an orphanage in China. Already the biological parents of two sons, Joshua and Jordan (now 13 and 10 years old respectively), they were happy when one-year-old Hanna seemed the “perfect” child as she played quietly for hours during her first month in the United States.

Family“As newly adoptive parents, you’re just happy they’re not crying,” Dawn says. They told their friends that parenting her was almost “too easy.”

That changed when Hannah began to have “emotional meltdowns” that were far more severe than a child’s temper tantrums. She would have them as many as six times a day.

Hannah began to recoil any time that Dawn touched her and panicked whenever Dawn stopped feeding her even to retrieve something from another room. “We were told there would be no attachment difficulties,” Dawn says. That was not the truth.

The Choates would spend the next year painfully working with Hannah to help her adjust. Today she has blossomed and is a joyful child.

When Dawn wrote an article about their experience that appeared in Adoption Today magazine and RainbowKids online, she was shocked when her email inbox was swamped with messages from people saying they face similar struggles. As a result, the Choates started Healing Hannah.

The ministry sponsors several projects, each named for the Choates’ children, including two the couple adopted after bringing Hannah into their home: six-year-old Maggie from China, and Isaac, 2, from Guatemala.

Maggie’s List is designed to help potential adoptive parents consider older or special needs children. Isaac’s Hope sponsors missionary work in Guatemala that focuses on the needs of children in orphanages.

Joshua and Jordan’s Great Wall of Heroes honors children helping other kids. Over the past two years, a kindergarten class has raised nearly $600 by selling popsicles and sponsoring other fundraisers. The money has helped fund surgeries for orphans.

“One of Healing Hannah’s goals is to encourage honest dialogue between orphanages and adoptive parents.”

Most recently, the Choates sponsored an online auction raising money to pay for a surgery to help a one-year-old Chinese child whose heart is located outside her rib cage. The child lives in an orphanage that is committed to the children, Dawn says.

“We have raised $10,000 to date through speaking engagements, the auction and another private donor,” Dawn says. The money is enough to get the girl, Ginger Zu, into surgery, which will be scheduled sometime in January. Another $4,000 needs to be raised to pay the entire bill.

Dawn adds that one of Healing Hannah’s goals is to encourage honest dialogue between orphanages and adoptive parents. Too often, the institutions are not honest about the needs of the children, she explains. As part of the ministry, Dawn also speaks to community groups and encourages families as they try to help their own adopted children previously traumatized in orphanages.

Covenanter Dana Johnson, who pioneered research on trauma suffered by children in overseas orphanages, said in an interview earlier this year that, “A relatively small percentage of children in orphanages are true orphans.” Most are left to the orphanage by parents who do not want or cannot afford to care for them and receive little attention while in the institution.

Families that are able to nurture the adoptees can make a dramatic difference in the children’s lives, said Johnson, who is a member of Bethlehem Covenant Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

For more information about Healing Hannah and ways of assisting the ministry, email Dawn Choate.

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