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20 Years of Hope: Hayden

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In early 2017, tiny Hayden came into the care of our former healing home in Uganda needing considerable TLC. He was sickly, weighing a scant 5 kilograms (11 pounds) at 13 months of age, and his parents were nowhere to be found. The nannies in the home got right to work loving on this precious boy and giving him slow and patient feedings so he could begin to gain some much-needed weight.

Baby held in his foster mom's arms

Hayden stayed in our healing home for 13 months, gaining weight and strength, and learning that his caregivers were people he could depend upon to meet his needs and give him genuine affection. By this time, the healing home staff had located Hayden’s mother.

Hayden’s mom was going through some hardships and wasn’t able to care for her son at that time. However, she had a supportive friend who was willing to take Hayden in as a foster child through LWB while the mother received ongoing treatment. This gave Hayden the opportunity to live and grow in a safe family environment, while also having regular contact with his birthmother.

He totally won the heart of Cathy, our foster care manager at that time, as you can see below.

Woman and little boy sitting on a table smile at each other

Hayden caught more than his fair share of childhood colds during the first few months in his new home, but he soon grew bigger and stronger. Quiet and reserved around most adults, he was much more outgoing with his foster mother, the children in the neighborhood, and of course his foster siblings.

Three children with foster mom for 20 Years of Hope blog

Shy Hayden wasn’t much of one for smiling straight into a camera lens! But we learned that he was slowly catching up on the milestones that had been delayed by that first year of illness and lack of proper nutrition before he entered the healing home.

Boy in brown and red shirt scratching his head

After about a year, foster manager Cathy began to coax the cutest hidden grins out of Hayden, as he began to feel more at home with her regular visits.

Boy with a black multi-colored outfit stands against a wall with his hands by his mouth

In early 2020, Hayden’s personality really began to blossom. He began attending school along with his foster siblings and gradually gained the confidence to be quite active in class. His teacher told us that he responded with enthusiasm to whatever he was learning. At times, he was actually rather talkative and would sometimes continue to share whatever was on his mind even after the teacher asked him to stop. We will forgive this small indiscretion since it was so nice to see him coming out of his shell!

Little boy in a blue shirt and orange shorts sits on a wall, smiling

Over the years, Hayden’s confidence grew, and he was soon ranking near the top of his class! He also developed a particularly kind and gentle way with animals and enjoyed helping with his foster family’s four-legged friends. It was a great surprise when Hayden received his very own goat to care for (thanks to a generous LWB sponsor donation). He was absolutely speechless, but there was no mistaking his joy as he showed his pet around its new home.

Boy walking his black goat on a rope

This past spring, we were able to check in with Hayden’s teacher who had given him an overall grade of “A” with the comment, “Well done Hayden. Keep it up!” He continues to be a bit reserved around adult but is “vibrant, outgoing, and playful” with his peers and adults that he knows well. He works hard at school, makes sure to save some time at home for reading, and helps his foster mom with various chores like fetching water, washing dishes, and assisting with cooking. He also cares for his pet goat, PLUS the two babies that she now has now produced.

Isn’t he growing into a handsome boy?

Boy in a light blue school uniform stands against a lime green wall

Saving the biggest news for last, we are overjoyed to report that Hayden was reunited with his birth mother and an aunt in September! This change in Hayden’s life has been in the works for a long time, and we are so happy that he and his mother are now together. It is extra nice that he has three cousins in the home as we know how comfortable he is around other young people. Mom is beaming away in the back of the group below, while Auntie is on the right side. It is also comforting to know that Hayden’s foster family lives nearby, so they can continue to be a part of each other’s lives.

A happy foster family sits together in Uganda

Reunification — whenever possible and in the best interest of the child — is one of the main goals of our foster care programs around the world. In Hayden’s case, the combination of nurturing intervention by our healing home, and time spent in a loving foster home has been a real blessing…allowing him to be reunited with his mother when the time was right. We wish this family a lifetime of love and happiness!

Boy in a green plaid shirt sits on his mom's lap

And now to answer the question on everyone’s mind: Yes, the goats came home with Hayden! Momma goat is expecting once again, and we are very happy for Hayden and his growing herd.

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