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Adopted by loving parents, Emerson thrives despite early adversity

Emerson was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and failure to thrive, but support from the University of Minnesota Adoption Medicine Clinic has helped her achieve success as a teenager.
Emerson (second from left) was adopted by Daniel and Angelique Hatch. When she arrived as an 2-year-old at her new home, she was malnourished and stricken by infections and mild cerebral palsy. Now, Emerson is a mild-mannered 15-year-old who wants to be a school teacher and makes the honor roll at her high school.

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.

“If you set a goal, she made it”
The next day Angelique quit her job and began making the daily journey from her family’s home in Wisconsin to Masonic Children’s Hospital, where Emerson received physical, occupational and speech therapy. Slowly, Emerson improved.

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.

From parent to advocate
Growing up around friends and neighbors who had adopted children, Angelique always knew she wanted to adopt. When she was diagnosed with a medical condition in college which required her to take medication that could affect a pregnancy, she and her husband decided to build their family through adoption. Eventually, the couple had one biological child as well.

“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.

Learn more about our services at the University of Minnesota Health Adoption Medicine Clinic.

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.

Learn more about Angelique’s marathon team or send them a tax deductible donation.

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.

“Because of the resources here it was possible for my Emmy and all my kids to thrive. Every time I run a race, I get hurt and I think about quitting,” Angelique said. “But then I remember how much these kids in institutions are hurting, and I never stop.”