Called to Adopt...Our Story

Written Summer 2010.

One of the first conversations we had when we began seeking whether or not marriage was God’s plan for our future was about adoption. We both believed then and now that it would be a great privilege to adopt a child one day if the Lord led us in that direction. We have desired to adopt for many years now, yet the timing was never right and the doors were never opened. We have felt for the past two years that the time for adopting was getting closer. Our oldest son Ethan began praying for a sister on his own two years ago as well. A year passed, and there was still no new sibling. He watched new siblings be born to many of his friends and also come through adoption. Ethan then announced, “Well there are plenty of sisters out there, so why can’t we just get one!” We told him that what he said is true, and that perhaps he does have a sister “out there”, but that it wasn’t as simple as it sounds to “just get one”. Our families desire to adopt began to grow into a longing as we researched our adoption options, participated in friends adoptions, and caught a glimpse of the vast number of children in need of forever families. That longing has now developed into a calling.

Called to Adopt…from Haiti!
Several months ago we began seriously praying and pursuing adoption. We believed we were called to adopt, but could not discern from where. How could we choose just one out of 147 million orphans in desperate need of a family? We researched and talked about a number of different possibilities including China, Korea, Ethiopia, India, Haiti, and locally through the state. We used our specific situation to narrow our possibilities based on travel time for an international adoption and how long we would need to be away from our boys and work, these countries adoption requirements, and the varying costs. While we did not rule out a local adoption if that door was opened, we felt strongly that we were to pursue an international adoption for many reasons. Haiti was at the top of our list because the need in Haiti is great, we met the long list of Haitian adoption requirements, the time we had to be in Haiti was feasible for our family, and the costs were much lower than many other international adoptions. We did not know anyone that had adopted from Haiti, and were somewhat surprised that this seemed to be where God was leading us. People we talked to didn’t know much about Haiti either, until January 12, 2010.
The event of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti has heightened the worlds’ awareness of this country already in a tragic condition. 300,000 people died due to the earthquake, 250,000 homes and buildings were destroyed, and 1.2 million were left homeless. Half of these are children. Even before the earthquake Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. 35% of the nation was malnourished and in the poorer areas the child death rate was 50% by age five. 55% of the population lives on less than $1.25 per day. This situation in Haiti gives families little to no options for providing for their children. There are also no public schools in Haiti, and only the wealthy are able to attend private school. With no education, very few jobs available even for the educated, meager shelter, and little food, parents are often forced to consider one of three options. Take their child(ren) to an orphanage where they will be cared for, get some schooling, and have the possibility of being adopted into a loving home. Drop them off in the streets to beg for themselves, which often leads to malnutrition, sickness, and death. Or sell them into child slavery, which is common and legal in Haiti and they are sentenced to life as a “restavek”.  A restavek’s life is most often one of physical and sexual abuse, malnourishment, hopelessness, and possibly death. Haiti was the feature country recently on one adoption site stating, “There is likely no other country in the Western Hemisphere where the need for assistance to orphans and vulnerable children is more obvious. 10,000 children are thought to be living on the streets, mostly in Port-au-Prince. An estimated 200,000 children reside in orphanages across the country. Although the need is great, the process can be very long to adopt from Haiti.”
The world responded to Haiti after the earthquake and many wonderful children’s adoption, advocacy groups, and individuals rapidly stepped into this nightmare to help and protect those who could not do so for themselves. We found ourselves desiring to do the same and felt certain of our calling to adopt from Haiti. However, we were very sad to learn new adoptions were closed after the earthquake as many orphanages were destroyed along with paperwork on these children. New children orphaned by the earthquake or whose families were unable to care for them were pouring into the orphanages who eventually had to start turning children away when they could not physically take any more. Children who survived the earthquake and already in process to be adopted had the possibility of coming to their families on humanitarian parole. One blessing in this tragedy is that a great many families were able to complete their adoptions much quicker than if the earthquake had not occurred, and those children are now in their forever homes.
Hope for Orphans was one of the organizations that responded after the earthquake. They contacted friends of our at Charis Orphan Care and Adoption Ministries to find home study ready families that would be willing to look at and possibly pursue children at HCRM (Haiti Children's Rescue Mission) We received a list of available children with photos of their sweet faces, and short profiles, and were asked to pray about committing to bringing one or more of these pre-earthquake orphans into our home quickly with the hope of adopting them from the U.S. once Haiti re-opened for adoptions.
 
Called to Adopt…two girls!

Originally when we were contacted about the possibility of bringing a Haitian orphan into our home quickly, we thought it best to choose a boy between the ages 1-5. We thought this simply because we were told this could happen quickly without much time to prepare and we had all the necessary means of provision for a boy in that age range. Once again, the Lord was working His will behind the scenes to bring two girls before us, instead of a boy. We had previously talked about an older child adoption and were very open to this great need that many do not feel they can pursue. We felt somewhat equipped for an older child adoption after working with many youth from various backgrounds together for over 10 years. By the time we looked at the list there were no children on it that were not considered “older”. We believe this too was the Lord’s will. There was one particular 10 yr. old girl we had been praying for that had been matched to some friends of ours earlier, and was taken off the list. The day we got the list, she was put back on it because this family had to move out of state and their home study fell through. Elisabeth knew who she was, but Eric did not. He came home from work for lunch and said, “Don’t tell me anything, or if you feel drawn to a particular child, just let me look at them.” Eric almost immediately chose this same little girl named “Marguerite” out of all the others not knowing she was the one we had been praying for. Elisabeth felt the same, but was also very drawn to another little girl named “Belinda”. Eric was pretty sure that since God had not led us to one of the sibling groups, that one little girl was enough. We made the call the next day, and committed to Marguerite. We also asked questions about 10 yr. old “Belinda”. We did not get many answers when it came to Belinda, and were told that there may be another family already pursuing her. We continued to pray about her and ask for wisdom in adopting two girls, and how this could affect both the girls and us. Two weeks passed, and with few questions answered, but a strong peace that if Belinda was still available, and if we could at least find out if the girls were friends at the orphanage that it was in everyone’s best interest for our family to pursue both girls. We asked if they could at least tell us if the girls were friends or enemies at the orphanage. The response we got back was a picture of the girls with their arms around each other, and stating that the girls said to tell us that they were indeed very good friends. 


We also found out that Belinda was not being pursued by another family. We were delighted by this news and full length photo, as we only had a head shot before, yet it raised another alarming question. “Belinda” (we had been told by this time that that was not her true name) was significantly smaller than Marguerite, yet we had been told they were only a few months apart in age. We then asked for their weights and they came back 65 lbs. and 38 lbs. Our three year old son Evan weighed 38 lbs.! We had been following the story on one of the families that got their adoptive children home on humanitarian parole, and they were told their daughter was seven years old (although she looked much younger), but when they took her to the doctor and dentist they declared her no older than four. We hoped that this would be the case with Belinda, whom we were now calling “Esmee”.  Since we didn’t know her name, but wanted to pray for her by name, we looked up French girl names, (since she speaks French Creole) and found Esmee which means “much loved”. Elisabeth instantly loved her the moment she laid eyes on her picture, so this name stuck. We later decided Marguerite needed an “E” name too (since we are all E’s around here), so we looked up French girl names again that began with E. We have a friend that has a little girl named “Alida”. We always thought it was very pretty, and had previously wondered if it could be spelled with an E.  Elisabeth had tried to look it up before, but never found anything remotely resembling the name. However, when we looked up E names on the French name list we were surprised to find one of the first names was “Elita” and its meaning is “Chosen”. Eric chose her out of all the others. She is our chosen Marguerite! We prayed about the decision further, and continued to have a peace about adopting both girls. We received notification that we had officially been matched to both Marguerite and “Delenda”. The boys helped Mommy plant two pink rose bushes in the front yard we named Elita and Esmee in honor of the girls and as a physical reminder we would see each day to pray for them.
And so we began our adoption journey!
 
January 2013. Sixteen months ago we moved our family to Haiti. We did not move to Haiti because of our adoptions though it was our adoptions that first brought us to Haiti. God's grace has brought us through many valleys and over many mountains. We now have completed the adoption process for our Elita Marguerite and she is a U.S. citizen. We praise the Lord for His sovereignty and protection over Esmée's adoption that is still in progress and that she is able to live with us in Haiti. Please continue to pray for us and many others still waiting to complete this long process...especially pray for the hearts of the children waiting for so long.