by Leslie, mom to Zoie from China with cleft lip and palate
We adopted our daughter Zoie in August of 2006. She was 22 months at the time and had a unilateral cleft lip and palate. Her lip had been repaired in China when she was 15 months old. Her “need” has turned out to be exactly what I expected and probably “best case scenario” all things considered. She is very willing to learn and try new things and has been from the moment we met her. She was slightly delayed in her gross motor abilities but made great strides very quickly in this department. Of course her speech was non-existent and is still somewhat delayed, especially in the articulation department, but she continues to make great strides weekly with her speech as well. From the beginning she was VERY interested in learning sign language and we still use some today. She learned over 100 signs in her first 3 months home and this helped tremendously with communication. She had her palate repaired in October of 2006 and although it was a rough week after surgery, it was a complete success! Her soft palate is a little short and causes some articulation issues but she has no fistulas and may not need any more surgery until she has the cleft in her gum line repaired most likely with a bone graft at around age 7. She has been in speech therapy since November 2006 and will continue with that indefinitely. The early intervention in our state (Tennessee) was very easy to work with and was able to get us the services she needed and they even came to her daycare. Since she turned 3, her speech therapy is the responsibility of the public schools and our responsibility to get her there. This has been more challenging for us since we both work. She had to have PE tubes put in her ears due to thick fluid that was impeding her ability to hear sounds correctly and therefore progress with her speech. This is common with many kids, but especially cleft affected kids. This procedure was the easiest thing I have been though medically speaking with any of my kids. Lastly, Zoie will need much help in the orthodontic department. I am familiar with this since I had a cleft lip when I was born and had braces for years and years with many teeth issues. We have been through braces with one child already and will soon begin with another. She may begin as early as 5 years old with appliances to help enlarge the upper arch to prepare for her bone graft and then have many years of appliances and braces to follow but will end up with a smile more beautiful than it already is. Our insurance covered Zoie from the moment we met her and covers all of her medical procedures. We will have co-pays and co-insurance with the orthodontic work. We are blessed beyond belief with this little ray of sunshine and although there have been many things to consider since we first saw her picture, we would do everything over and over to be able to be the parents of this wonderful child. We have it good!