Emerson’s outlook was grim.
The two-year-old, adopted from India by Angelique and Daniel Hatch, weighed just 14 pounds when she arrived in the United States. Malnourished and stricken with multiple infections, Emerson would need significant care, according to University of Health Neonatologist Dana Johnson, MD, PhD, the founder of the Adoption Medicine Clinic at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.
Johnson diagnosed Emerson with mild cerebral palsy and failure to thrive. He was also concerned that Emerson may face significant developmental delays. Still, Angelique refused to accept that her new daughter may not recover from her early deprivation and illness.
“There was a little light in the eyes of this baby with a failing body,” Angelique said. She placed her hands on Johnson’s desk and asked: “What do we have to do to help her?”
Therapy 5 days a week, possibly for years, Johnson said.
With the help of leg braces, she began walking at twenty-eight months old. Emerson wore the leg braces for years, and worked hard to build her core strength so she could defy all odds.
Last year, she ran in her first 5k race.
Now, Emerson is a mild-mannered 15-year-old who wants to be a school teacher. She has made her school’s honor roll, plays violin and piano, dances and volunteers in her high school’s English Department.
Her progress has been heartening for Angelique and Daniel, who waited two years to adopt Emerson. The couple has four children, including three adopted children: Liam, Logan and Emerson.
“If you set a goal, she made it. It wasn’t always fast, but she’d get there,” Angelique said.
“Adoption was not a second choice, it was our first choice.” Angelique said.
All three of their adopted children have been patients at the Adoption Medicine Clinic over the years. Liam, like his sister Emerson, was treated by multiple University of Minnesota Health specialists. He received major dental work, had significant hearing loss and needed physical and occupational therapy, issues that are not uncommon for adopted children who face early adversity.
Because of Angelique’s background, she seemed a natural fit on the Adoption Medicine Clinic’s new advisory board. When Adoption Medicine Clinic Director Judith Eckerle, MD, asked her to chair the board, Angelique—overjoyed at the opportunity to give back to the clinic—said ‘yes.’
Now, the mother of four plans to run with a team of thirty members in the Gandy Marathon in Luck, Wis., on Oct. 10. The team seeks to raise $15,000 for the Adoption Medicine Clinic, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2016. Since its inception, the care providers at the clinic have helped over 25,000 children and families from around the world.
The clinic assists families during and after the adoption process—and provides medical care and advocacy for children living in institutional care around the world, including children in the United States.