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20 Years of Hope: Twins Max and Matthew

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In early September of 2010, a rural orphanage in Henan province called us about a tiny, five-pound baby who had recently been abandoned. Max, as he came to be called, had been found with a life-threatening intestinal condition that often requires surgery within the first 48 hours of life. We knew there was no way we could send him back to the orphanage following his operation, so he came to live at our China Healing Home known as Heartbridge (in partnership with Hope Foster Home, outside of Beijing) to receive nurturing care.

Baby boy in a white sleeper lying on a pink blanket

We are so thankful that Max was in our hands, as he developed severe pneumonia, a dangerously high fever, and a racing heart soon after his arrival. We were able to get him immediately back to the hospital for treatment thanks to supporters of our medical care program. We don’t know if he would have survived if he had been back at the orphanage instead.

Several months after Max came to Heartbridge, LWB volunteers visited his orphanage in Henan. When they arrived, they immediately saw an infant who was far too thin. He had been born with a cleft lip, and it was obvious that he wasn’t able to feed well because of it. Every tiny rib showed in his chest. The tiny little boy looked gaunt and weak, and our team told the staff we would get cleft bottles and better formula for the little boy.

Baby boy with a unilateral cleft lip in a blue sleeper lying on a pink blanket

Then things took an incredible turn.

One of the nannies at the orphanage mentioned that the malnourished baby possibly had a twin. When we asked where the other baby was, we were told that we had already moved him to Beijing! Max, the little boy who had been at Heartbridge Healing Home for two months by that time, had a possible twin brother who was now struggling for his life 400 miles away due to feeding issues with cleft lip. When the orphanage director had originally called asking us to help Max, he never mentioned that a second baby had been found the exact same day.

Together At Last

We made immediate plans to move this cleft-affected baby we named Matthew to our healing home as well, and the first photos we have of the boys together showed a serious size difference, to say the least. Just compare the two of them when their infant seats were placed next to each other.

Twin baby boys, one with a cleft lip, lying side by side

Max, after having two months of TLC and good formula at the healing home, was a total butterball, while Matthew, who had struggled since birth with getting enough to eat, was almost half his size. We were bound and determined to catch the boys up to each other just as quickly as we could.

By late December, when another LWB volunteer visited the healing home, Matthew was beginning to bear a slight resemblance to his brother. The nannies had come to the conclusion that they really COULD be twins, as their cries were nearly identical…even if their faces weren’t.

A mere three months and eight pounds later (on Matthew’s part), little doubt remained that they were related when we looked at those gorgeous faces side-by-side. Because we simply had to know (and so this important fact could be included in their adoption files), we had the boys’ DNA tested, and this confirmed that they were indeed identical twins!

Side-by-side photos of twin boys, one of whom has cleft lip

Eight months later, Matthew had his cleft lip repaired, making his feedings much easier. Over the coming months, he gradually caught up to his twin brother Max in weight. Just look at those soulful eyes!

Baby boy in China with a repaired cleft lip

Max had beautiful eyes as well, which would nearly disappear when he burst into a great big grin. He had a sunny personality that charmed everyone around him.

Baby boy grinning big in a healing home

Max and Matthew quickly took to being an official duo and effortlessly became fast friends. It was so much fun to watch their personalities take shape during their time in the healing home!

20 Years of Hope twin boys standing side by side

Around this time, a big change was in the works…one that would forever alter the course of the twins’ lives. A forever family in the US had committed to adopting the boys. They were able to send photos to China so Max and Matthew might recognize them when they finally met.

Twin baby boys in rust shirts holding the same photo

The nannies had their charges look at the photos regularly, and the boys appeared to be truly fascinated. Not long after, they met their forever family and traveled to the United States.

Fast Forward to 2023

It’s hard for us to believe, but the twins are nearly teenagers now. Max is known as Trigg, while Matthew is known as Ivor. Living in Southwest Colorado, they are amazing young cowboys-in-training and rope together in local rodeos. Trigg ropes the head, and Ivor ropes the feet.

Twin boys in cowboy hats at the rodeo

They really do make quite the team!

Twins wearing cowboy hats and outfits at a rodeo wearing numbers on their backs with arms around each other

They are active in other sports as well, playing basketball and baseball together. Trigg is often the pitcher while Ivor is the catcher!

Twin boys in gold baseball uniforms at the ballfields

We love this recent note from the boys’ mom: “Honestly, you won’t find nicer, more polite, kind boys! Besides being good at sports, they raise chickens and goats and help feed our pigs and horses daily. Both boys received awards of ‘Academic Excellence’ for maintaining a 4.0 GPA all year. They have many great friends but are truly the most devoted to each other. We are so blessed.”

We were stunned to see that Ivor is now an inch taller than his brother! Their Mom says this is the first time that has ever happened. The height difference may or may not be permanent, but it is a real joy to see that once-tiny, fragile baby looking so robust.

Twin boys in matching outfits wearing matching hats

Trigg and Ivor’s story began in a very difficult way. It’s heartbreaking to think of their birthparents delivering twins who EACH had such serious medical conditions. But thankfully, with the help of our wonderful medical care and healing home supporters, we were able to stand in the gap and get them started down the path of a beautiful life journey. It is such a blessing that we are able to continue to follow that journey today.

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