Nate is just nine years old but is already becoming bilingual in English and Mandarin. Nate also takes Tae Kwon Do lessons and is able to compete and excel with no restrictions in a sport he loves. His mother, Tiffaney, is not only impressed with her son’s educational and recreational progress, but with what a normal third grade boy he is.
When Tiffaney and Jeffrey Foster decided to give their five-year-old daughter, Claire, a sibling it took 13 months of adoption proceedings before the Fosters learned they were receiving a son, Nathaniel, from China. Nate was on an international adoption list for children with special needs, due to his cleft lip and palate. Shortly after Nate’s fourth birthday, the Fosters travelled to China to bring him home to Indiana. The Fosters’ travel mates, who were adopting their second child from China, both worked in medicine for IU Health (one a pediatric cardiologist at Riley at IU Health, the other an attending physician) and suggested the Fosters see Dr. Havlik to help repair Nate’s anomalies.
Nate had undergone cleft palate repair surgery while in adoptive service’s custody, but Dr. Havlik determined Nate would need surgery to revise his cleft lip and a complete rhinoplasty to correct the form of his nose. Nate will require additional surgeries, but is currently in a “holding pattern” with his orthodontist, dentist and Dr. Havlik, waiting to have further development of his permanent teeth. Nate’s multi-specialty team, including his orthodontist and dentist who practice outside of Riley at IU Health, work seamlessly with Dr. Havlik ensuring Nate’s comprehensive care and reassuring his parents who appreciate the attentive, personalized team designed to care for Nate.
“We are pleased Nate could benefit from both our medical and camp programs," Dr. Robert Havlik said of Nate's progress. "We expect that he will continue to have a great outcome from his treatment.”
As Nate continues to grow, he visits his Cleft and Craniofacial Anomalies team every six months to track his progress. Tiffaney refers to these bi-annual visits as a ‘Riley Day’. Tiffaney appreciates the highly organized care and how knowledgeable the team is, having “never walked away wishing [she] had asked more questions.” Beyond the care provided for her son, Tiffaney remembers the anxiety she faced before Nate’s first surgery at Riley at IU Health. “I had a complete meltdown about his anesthesia and a nurse took the time necessary to calm me down, which I am forever grateful for,” she recalls.
In addition to learning Mandarin and Tae Kwon Do, Nate does all the same activities as his classmates. Nate also attends the Camp About Face, week-long retreat for Riley at IU Health Cleft and Craniofacial patients. “[It] was the best thing we’ve ever done for him,” Tiffaney says on the choice to send him to camp. “I cannot say enough about the staff, the kids and how they treat each other and how it makes kids love themselves. It is something we will participate in every year, without a question.” Camp About Face and Nate’s care team continue to work with the Fosters, and Tiffaney says they “could not have been more fortunate”.