FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Local 4 has been following the incredible journey of the “Beaumont 5” for two years.
The children from rural Africa were brought to Metro Detroit for life-changing surgeries.
When all of the children safety returned home, we thought the story was done. One little girl named Salamata had other plans.
- Part 1 -- 'Beaumont 5' begin journey of hope
- Part 2 -- 'Beaumont 5' share big reveal
- Part 3 -- Oldest of ‘Beaumont 5’ Prepares to Head
- Part 4 -- ‘Who is Doctor C?’
- Part 5 -- ‘Emotional farewell’
- Part 6 -- How are they doing now?
All of the “Beaumont 5” had surgery to repair their cleft lips and palates at Beaumont Hospital. Salamata spent eight months with Nick and Betsy Weiss and their four sons in Fort Wayne, Indiana, before returning home to her grateful parents.
But when Salamata developed a common complication, her parents asked if she could come back to the United States for more surgery. The Weiss family had been heartbroken to say goodbye to Salamata. They were beyond thrilled to welcome her back.
“It all just happened within 30 seconds. I think of just, like, every emotion that you could feel. Like, from excitement, to fear, to like, ‘What is it going to be like?’ To elation," Betsy Weiss said.
Weiss envisioned a Hallmark reunion.
“It was going to be amazing. It was going to be beautiful. She was going to run to us, and I was going to put my arms out, and she was going to remember me. She was going to be so excited to see the boys,” Betsy Weiss said.
The reunion didn’t quite go like that.
“She just immediately screamed. Balled held onto Rebecca, just terrified,” Betsy Weiss said.
But things started to change the next morning at breakfast.
“She started singing, or doing the motions to, ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider,’ and that was something we always did together, and I thought, ‘She remembers something.’ 'Cause I know that her African mama is not doing ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ motions with her,” said Weiss.
Salamata has continued to amaze them.
“The first time that I gave her a bath, I thought I was going to give her a bath like a little American baby,” said Weiss. “No, she can totally 100 percent wash herself. It was really cool to see, but it made me just see like culturally, she has too. Her mom has five other kids, so I’m sure they taught her that right away like how to take care of herself.”
They talk about her parents every day, and they're honored that they trust their family enough to send Salamata back.
"That made us feel both just really good, knowing that they trusted us and that we did a good job with their child," said Weiss.
Doctor Kongkrit Chaiyasate at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak was able to repair the small hole that had formed in Salamata's palate and complete other reconstructive work too.
Salamata celebrated her 3rd birthday in November.
She has quickly readjusted to life in the United States. Her favorite song?
“I was gonna say ‘Jesus Loves Me,’ and then I thought, 'Nope, it’s probably ‘Baby Shark,’” laughed Weiss.
Watching Salamata play with the Weiss' four sons, it's clear how much she is loved here.
Salamata's crib is in a large walk-in closet just feet from the Weiss' bed.
"We always kind of joked around when we first looked at this house, we were always like 'Man, that's just a ridiculously big closet. What's the point? Why does anybody need a closet this big? We don't need this," said Weiss.
Shortly after Salamata arrived, it hit them.
"That's why we needed that closet," said Weiss. "It made just the perfect little spot for her."
Salamata is scheduled to return home in January. As they prepare to say goodbye again, Nick and Betsy Weiss remember a message from her parents.
"Essentially what it said was, 'We know that we could never repay you for everything that you have done for our daughter, and we forever will be thankful to your family for that. But we want you to know that even though we can't give her what you can give her, we love her just as much as you do and just the same,'" said Betsy Weiss.
“I think it’s always helpful knowing just in your mind that she’s going back to a family that wants her and loves her,” Nick Weiss said.
"We had heard that her mother's first comment when she saw Salamata was, 'Now my life is complete again,'" said Betsy Weiss. "How do you beat that?"
Ray of Hope Medical Missions has brought almost 60 children to United States for surgery in the past seven years. They do it all with donations and have an all-volunteer staff.
To learn more or make a donation, click here.