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Fundraiser would help complete adoption for Woodbury family

Woodbury residents Denny and Kathy Schneider, and their five children, are in the process of adopting a 2-year-old-boy from China named Steven who has congenital heart disease. (Submitted photo)

Steven is a 2-year-old boy currently living at the Provence Orphanage in Beijing, China.

He has a tougher life than most other orphans, though, since he suffers from congenital heart disease.

He has already had one open-heart surgery and is in need of another.

Steven has found a savior, however, in the Schneider family of Woodbury, who is currently in the process of adopting the boy.

“We fell in love with him,” Kathy Schneider said. “He was hand-picked for our family.”

As part of the adoption process, the Schneiders – Denny, Kathy, Alison, Emily, Jacob, Joseph and Caleb – must raise $30,000 to cover the adoption and travel expenses.

A benefit is planned for Sept. 6 at Woodbury Lutheran Church’s Oak Creek campus in Stillwater. The benefit will feature live music, a soup and salad dinner and a silent auction.

“We hadn’t planned on adopting him,” Kathy said, “So, coming up with this money on the fly seems hefty.”

Steven’s story

Steven was born with only one ventricle in his heart, as opposed to the normal two.

Additionally, Steven’s pulmonary artery and his aorta are transposed, which results in oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor blood  mixing together in the heart, which in turn results in the boy never getting a sufficient supply of oxygen.

Steven was found abandoned at an antique shop when he was only about 10 days old.

“It would have been very clear that he was very sick,” Kathy said. “He would have been blue and probably his family just couldn’t provide for him medically.”

Orphanages in China typically don’t have the means to provide medical care for the orphans, which is why Steven was taken in by New Hope Foster Homes, which provides medical care for children that need it.

Steven underwent an open heart surgery before being returned to the Provence Orphanage for adoption.

However, Steven will be in need of another heart surgery before he turns 3 years old.

A chance meeting

Kathy, along with daughters Emily and Alison, traveled to China in June of 2013 as part of a mission trip with their church Christ Redeemer, which meets out of Peace of Mind Early Education Center.

During a trip to the Provence Orphanage, the three women met and fell in love with Steven, who was just a year old at the time.

“We probably held a hundred babies,” Kathy said, “but, we couldn’t get him off our mind when we returned.”

When Kathy returned home, she started discussing the possibility of adopting Steven with her husband Denny, whose first response was, “We have five kids.”

Two weeks later though, Kathy and Denny agreed that Steven needed a home.

“How can we not,” Kathy said. “He would likely die there and we can’t let that happen.”

“As Christians, we feel called to care for orphans,” Denny said.

On April 19 of this year, the Schneiders received word that they had been matched with Steven and the adoption process could begin.

Adopting Steven is a big undertaking for the Schneiders since he is going to need at least one, maybe two, additional heart surgeries and will probably need a heart transplant at some point in his life.

But Kathy said they are willing to do whatever they need to for Steven.

“It is like when it’s your own natural biological child,” she said. “You love the child before it’s born and whatever you get physically, you love that child and you’ll deal with it.

“We love Steven and we will do whatever it takes to give him what he needs.”

Steven should live a fairly normal life once he receives the surgeries he needs, Kathy said, with the exception that he may not be able to keep up with the other kids as much.

“He’ll have a good working body once we get this all taken care of,” she said.

The Schneiders are hoping to have Steven in their home by the first of the year since China has vowed to expedite his adoption based on his medical needs.

“Whether Steven lives a long time or a short time, he needs a family,” Kathy said, “and we can provide that for him.

“The more we learn about Steven, the more our heart grows.”

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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