In January 2002, I left a seventeen-year health care career to follow God’s calling and bring the love of Jesus to orphaned children of Central Asia. I moved to Kyrgyzstan and worked in the baby orphanage in the capital city of Bishkek.
Shortly after I arrived I visited the orphanage’s quarantine corridor. I rarely visited this area, but decided to go see the babies who were there.
I peered down at a tiny baby girl lying in the crib. Her facial deformities (multiple facial clefts, cleft lip and dislodged eye that lay on her left cheek) were more horrific than anything I’d ever seen. Guliam, the orphanage director, entered the room as I stood staring at this little life. “Poor, poor girl,” she said as she shook her head. The powerful and somber moment made me not want to ask anything about her or how old she was.
When the orphanage director moved, Tabihat, whom I nicknamed Tabi; from the quarantine corridor to my group I observed sadly that Tabi’s facial deformities frightened most caregivers. Orphanage workers fed Tabi and immediately put her down. In addition, Tabi’s facial clefts made feeding a challenge. As a result, workers usually fed her last.
I realized that Tabi would have no future in Kyrgyzstan without drastic medical help. In addition, I knew her deformities made it unlikely that she would be adoptable. Most likely she faced permanent institutionalization. I sensed strongly that God has asked me to help Tabi. God spoke to my heart, “Tami do whatever it takes to get this girl help. Don’t give up.”
I spent the next 9 months finding surgeons in American who would offer their services pro-bono for Tabi and muddling through political red-tape to obtain a medical visa to America. God answered prayer after prayer, and I was granted permission to bring Tabi, an orphan, to America for surgery. Upon arriving in America, Tabi was evaluated by surgeons in Denver. Her team was led by Randolph C. Robinson, MD, DDS, FAACS, and Jerry Popham, MD, FAACS. The entire medical team agreed to provide all of Tabi’s care at no cost!
Tabi went through two surgeries to close her clefts. They discovered that Tabi’s dislodged left eye was a result of a cleft in the socket and found internal clefts on the left side of her face. They placed an artificial left cheek bone and began building a left eye socket. Because there was a strict timeline to return Tabi to Kyrgyzstan and no guarantee she would ever return to America, Dr. Robinson did as much as he could.
As thoughts of returning Tabi to Kyrgyzstan surfaced, I began to grieve. I entertained thoughts of adopting Tabi, but I knew that the Kyrgyz government did not permit foreigners to adopt their children. I was so very cautious to allow my heart to think adoption might be possible.
However, God reminded me that He is a God of miracles. He already performed a miracle on behalf of Tabi, in getting her to America. He brought amazing surgeons together to provide the most excellent care at no cost. He could perform more. He could move mountains and a foreign government to allow her to be adopted. After a few months back in Kyrgyzstan, Tabi’s adoption was granted. A true miracle.
Because of Tabi’s continued needs for surgeries, we moved back to America. Dr. Robinson created Tabi’s plan of care. More surgeries; jaw surgery, scar revision and continued work to build an eye socket to receive an artificial eye. Then there would be major orthodontia work and dental implants. All of her medical care and the cost associated with it felt daunting. As a single parent in fulltime ministry, how in the world would I afford all of this? God reminded me in a still small voice, “I have been here from the beginning. I started you on the journey with Tabi and I am with you and will take care of you.”
My insurance covered most of Tabi’s medical bills. However, my plan didn’t cover orthodontia treatment. When Tabi turned 16, it was time to begin orthodontia care. We received the treatment plan and cost from her orthodontist, Dr. Richard Elliott, DDS. Gulp! Dr. Elliott offered me a significant discount and a monthly payment plan to take care of the remaining balance. The payment plan was still a significant monthly amount.
One day, I happened to see Mia Moo Fund on Facebook. I looked at their website and learned that one of the many things they do is offer financial assistance to families with children with cleft palate/cleft lip.
On my application for assistance I asked Mia Moo if they might pay part of my monthly amount, and I would pay the rest. A few weeks after I sent in my application I received a letter from Mia Moo. They didn’t want to pay the portion of my monthly bill. Instead, they wanted to pay my full monthly portion and relieve me of any financial burden. WOW!
I was so completely humbled and grateful for the Mia Moo Fund and their generous, caring hearts. God used Mia Moo to once again show that He is faithful and takes care of His precious children.
Tabi is 17 years old now and will be a senior in high school in the fall. She is a smart, happy, funny and wise young woman. I am so thankful that I heard God’s voice many years ago “do whatever it takes to help this girl, and don’t give up.”
What an amazing blessing she is to me and to so many that she meets.