Update: December 9, 2013
Born with a serious heart problem, the abandoned baby found on a doorstep in Jerusalem was referred to Hadassah Hospital-Ein Kerem for life-saving surgery and now is recovering in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).
When a baby was abandoned on a doorstep in Jerusalem's Old City, with the message, "Please take care of my baby girl!", last week the police brought the baby to Hadassah Hospital-Mount Scopus where physicians of Hadassah's Medical Adoption Unit go beyond medicine to find the baby a home.
At the Medical Adoption Unit, the potential parents are waiting. You can hear their arrested breathing as Dr. Shaya Wexler, director of the adoption unit--the only national adoption unit in Israel working with the government-- weighs and measures the baby, peruses the chemical parameters in blood tests, and elicits a laugh from the newborn. They couple is already in love with this child.
"As a doctor, you are supposed to leave your own heart at the door," says Dr. Wexler. "But these check-ups are tough," he says.
"Let's say you discover fetal alcohol syndrome, which isn't uncommon. On the one hand, you want to give this child who is already an innocent victim a chance at a good life. On the other hand, you owe the adoptive parents as much information as you can give them about what they may have to face. Even that is sketchy because you can't absolutely predict school and behavioral problems that are associated with a syndrome.
"I look at every adoptive parent as a righteous person who is ready to give love and care to a needy child. It's my weighty responsibility as a Hadassah physician to provide information, to give medical counseling, and to offer support. Sometimes the news is heart-breaking, but there's also great hope. Parents can see beyond medical challenges and bring out the tremendous potential of these kids."
Dr. Wexler and his co-director, Dr. Ariel Tannenbaum see children from newborns to teenagers at every stage of the adoption process--when they first enter the system, when they meet potential adoptive parents, and often afterwards, working together with the child welfare services. "Even choosing the right words to present a child's medical profile to parents is agonizing," said Dr. Wexler, "This is part of my job at Hadassah that goes way beyond medicine."