I adopted a little girl from God’s Littlest Angels last year. My daughter Lenae Jeffka was almost a year when I traveled to Haiti to bring her home. She has completely transformed my life. It is hard to put into words the many changes that she has brought but I am so thankful for the opportunity to parent this amazing little girl. Lenae is a joy and a delight. She has endless energy and enjoys discovering her world. It is a humbling experience to see the world through the eyes of a child and realize how much is taken for granted.
Life with Lenae Jeffka has led me to make many adjustments. I no longer get the amount of sleep that I used to. I can’t go out on a whim for dinner or coffee as I used to. I am “tied down” more than ever before but I am happier and more fulfilled than ever before. There have been moments of frustration but hearing a little voice call for “mom-mom” more than makes up for those brief moments.
If you are considering adopting as a single parent I offer these words of advice. You must, ABSOLUTELY MUST, have a supportive network of family and friends. I could not get through a week without my family and friends. They have offered thoughtful advice, caring suggestions, listening ears, and best of all, respite for an hour so I can have a break. I love to watch my family with my little girl. My entire family has embraced Lenae Jeffka wholeheartedly and she is adored and spoiled by each one. They have been endlessly patient with her and with me as I learn the roles of motherhood.
The experience of a single mom is a new one for me and I am enjoying the challenge of it. I could not ever have imagined the feeling of peace and contentment and overwhelming love that comes from seeing my daughter. I love being Mom!
My son, Alex, arrived home from Haiti (GLA) when he was 2 1/2 years old. He experienced several melt-downs (seems more accurate than "tantrum" to describe them) during his first few months, while he processed all the new experiences. He had some minor health issues that it took a few months to conquer (ringworm, for example). He also has a higher energy level than me or my other son, and that was a bit of a challenge to the family routine. Other than these few wrinkles, everything has gone very smoothly. Alex is a very engaging young man, well liked by children at preschool. His enthusiasm for life brings smiles to those around him.
Très vite après quelques mois de traitement médicaux, nous avons pris la décision d’adopter. Un jour de septembre 1997, nous avons assisté à une réunion d’EFA 38, avec dans l’idée d’aller chercher une petite fille bébé au Vietnam. Est venue s’asseoir à côté de mon mari une petite perle malgache de trois ans dans une jolie robe colorée. A la sortie de l’Assemblée Générale, Renaud m’a dit : « tu iras peut-être au Vietnam chercher ton bébé, mais moi je suis sous le charme de Madagascar ». La maman de la petite fille nous a donné les coordonnées de l’avocate qui avait réglé son adoption, et nous lui avons écrit une longue lettre accompagnée d’une photo familiale.
Puis en janvier 1998, quelques lignes sont revenues avec la proposition d’un petit garçon de sept mois magnifique. Nous avons bien sûr accepté, fous de joie. De longs mois ont été nécessaires pour que le dossier franchisse les étapes administratives. En septembre 1998, j’ai fait un premier déplacement pour aller reconnaître Baptiste devant le juge. Puis j’ai eu une semaine pour l’apprivoiser, filmer ses premiers pas (il avait 15 mois) et l’entendre m’appeler maman pour la première fois. Devant repartir, je n’ai pu revenir qu’en décembre pour le chercher définitivement. Nous sommes rentrés en France le jour de Noel, heureux comme des rois, notre petit garçon de 18 mois à l’époque, étant le plus beau des cadeaux.
Quelques mois plus tard, nous avons refait le chemin de l’agrément, et cette fois-ci, en suivant les conseils de la présidente d’EFA, nous avons pris contact avec un orphelinat haïtien, Maison d’Espoir de Mme Vital. Très vite on nous a proposé une petite fille de 14 mois, que nous avons appelée Chloé. Cette fois-ci la procédure n’a duré que 5 mois et le 11 novembre 2000 nous avons atterri sur le sol français, ivres de bonheur, avec notre perle haïtienne de 20 mois dans les bras. Notre « famille Benetton » attire souvent l’attention dans la rue, Baptiste étant typé plutôt asiatique « caramel », Chloé « chocolat » comme elle dit, et nous franchement « vanille ». Mais la famille le vit plutôt bien, et les petits sont les bijoux de leurs grand parents, oncles, et tantes.
A l’été 2004, nous avons contacté Dixie de GLA pour l’adoption d’une petite troisième. Nous n’avons jamais cherché à adopter des bébés, nous avons toujours été ravis d’accueillir des enfants « moyens grands », l’adaptation s’est très bien déroulée à chaque fois. Baptiste est venu avec nous à Haïti pour chercher Chloé et il en résulte un lien indéfectible entre eux.Nous avons dit à Dixie que nous voulions accueillir une petite fille de 2 à 4 ans, pour respecter l’ordre d’aînesse. Elle nous a proposé Baby (Jade pour nous), tout juste quatre ans, un amour de petite fille. Comme Chloé elle semble avoir du caractère, et adore les sucettes ! Nous avons hâte d’aller la chercher. Nous savons que cette fois-ci il faudra être encore plus attentifs, car à quatre ans et demi, les questions ne seront pas les mêmes, les émotions, les réactions seront aussi différentes. Mais nous faisons confiance à nos deux premiers amours pour entourer cette petite perle de toute la tendresse nécessaire. Et puis, on pense avoir un petit peu d’expérience maintenant !!
J’ai hâte de revivre la magie de la rencontre. J’ai eu la chance de vivre cela avec des enfants « moyens grands » et je ne le regrette pas. C’est parfois dur, mais c’est tellement fort. Et chaque fois que j’y repense, je remercie la vie de m’avoir permis de vivre ces moments-là. Et de continuer à les vivre, chaque jour…
I am a single mom who always wanted to be a parent. Adoption made this possible for me. I originally envisioned bringing home a baby under 12months old but God had other plans for me:) I brought my daughter home whenshe was almost 23 months old. She could not speak, was walking thoughunsteady at times and could not feed herself. I was overwhelmed initiallywith being a first time mom but quickly got into a routine that worked formy daughter and myself. Over the upcoming months I watched my daughterblossom from a quiet observer to an outgoing, confident participant inanything I introduced her to! She was always affectionate and shetransferred this affection to me easily. At 3.4 years old she is nowdevelopmentally on par and we are completely bonded to each other. She hasno behavior problems, sleeps really well, eats really well and is a completejoy. She has an easygoing temperament and I believe this helped her transition, as well as the loving care she received from GLA.
I am an independent (single) white, older (early 50’s), mother who adopted a Haitian girl age 14 at time of arriving into Canada. I have one bio daughter (brown), one year younger than my adopted daughter. For years I tried ignoring God’s prompting me to “adopt an older girl”. Finally took that “leap of faith”, contacted Dixie for advice and pursued an adoption in Haiti.
I did have my share of worries – would the child fit in with other children, would she fit into the school system, how old would be considered too old, would she learn English, would she be employable, and of course would she fit into my family and would she accept us, what if we don’t get along? Everyone, including myself, is shocked at the answers. My Haitian daughter is awesome! There have been no attachment, bonding or behavior issues. NONE!
A big bonus is her maturity in handling new life in Canada. She is a great student, nervous and quiet the first two months in Junior High school but with extra help from the teachers has progressed by “leaps & bounds”. The teachers love her for the great work ethic and tell me, with English improvement my daughter will soon be an honor role student!
She was anxious to prove herself in the Canadian work-force and wanting typical teen financial independence. She has gotten herself an amazing summer job with an employer recognizing her unique gifts (and pleased to help with English assistance). Through this employer (Family Fun Park) she will be enrolled in their university scholarship program, another goal within reach. She has made her own friends, enjoys all usual Canadian teen culture. Is strong, happy, healthy. Is honest, caring, responsible, hard-working. At home she is very compliant, a breeze to live with (in comparison to other Canadian teen girls). She is clean and tidy, is a modest Christian with high moral standards. She is too funny, with a great sense of humor and a penchant for play. A joy to watch her blossom into a beautiful, confident, young woman.
My bio-daughter has been emotionally stretched by the addition of her new older sister. This has not always been easy, but a welcome opportunity to mature and expand as a person. The two girls are becoming friends but it is a process that takes time and patience. We are a white/brown/black family that takes curiosity in stride.
As a family we commit to “embrace the difference and potential in all”. God willing, there will be more unique families in the world.
Our immediate and extended family will be forever richer and blessed by the addition of our Haitian daughter/sister/friend.
We are a blended family...each having brought 3 children into our marriage and then several years later, adopting each other's children. We tried desperately to have our own biological children, but that was not to be. We were drawn to Haiti first because of the great need and second because it was the least expensive country to adopt from. We had considered domestic adoption, but because of all the trouble we had had with our ex spouses, we didn't want any birth parent involvement...so international adoption was the only way to go for us.
As we researched Haiti and the children there...we knew that God had children for us there. We wanted to adopt two children at a time...twins would be great...so that they would not be alone in our all white family. As we set out on the paper trail and prayed about what age and gender of children we wanted, we were not prepared at all for what God was going to do with us!
At first we wanted two baby girls...twins..because we didn't think we could raise a black boy. How do you teach a black boy to become a black man if you don't know anything at all about the things he will face as he grows up? As time went on...there were no twin girls available when we were ready to have a referral. Then, the strangest thing happened....there was a baby boy that no one wanted because he was less than perfect. Not one person inquired about him...no one. Our hearts were drawn to him, sight unseen. We prayed fervently, researched cleft lips, found a great doctor in Boise, Idaho...and felt great peace when we accepted our son's referral. I will never forget the first time we saw his picture. All of my other children and my husband and I were crowded around the computer screen...waiting for the picture to load. We had no idea what the cleft lip would look like or what our son would look like. Suddenly, there he was...no one said a word...no one breathed...then...my husband said "Oh, he is beautiful!" as the tears rolled out of our eyes!
We also accepted a referral for a baby girl who was born at just 3 and a half pounds. We went through the typical waiting phases in an international adoption, always wondering if the babies would be grown up before it was FINALLY time to go and get them. I wondered if they would like me...how would I feel when I first saw them...would I love them as I did my own biological children from the moment I saw them? I folded and unfolded dresser drawers full of baby clothes...over and over...as we counted down the final days before we went to pick our babies up! I just wanted to look at them, feel them, imagine our babies wearing them. Our dream to have children together was finally going to come true!
The moment we met our two babies, Luc and Elizabeth, we were in love with them. I was surprised that they were still so tiny!! Elizabeth was 7 months old and still wore newborn size clothes. She wasn't sitting up or verbalizing much at all. Luc was so full of life and his cleft lip made him look like he was smiling all the time. Oh, what joy these two have brought into our lives!
Luc had his surgery to repair his lip a few months after we got home. He only needed the one surgery...and most people can't tell that he ever had a cleft lip. There were ten years between our youngest child and the new babies, so I had lots of help at home with the little ones. The transition and their bonding was so smooth that less than a year later, we were again on the paper trail for two more little ones. My experience with Luc's cleft lip and the fact that he was a boy who would one day become a man had helped me to realize that if I am in God's will...He will help me when I need it. So, I was no longer afraid to adopt a boy or a handicapped boy.
My husband and I got involved in helping the medically needy children of Haiti by arranging for gratis medical care in Idaho. We were able to help a little baby boy save one of his eyes and get the medical care he needed to remove the other one. We had the awesome privilege of meeting his adoptive mother from Colorado during his stay with a foster family. We also arranged for a heart patient to get the life saving surgery she needed to return to her loving mama in Haiti...but not before we lost a few others due to the red tape.
Last year, we heard about a cleft affected baby boy. We scrambled to get him the medical care he needed to save his life. The day the plastic surgeon phoned to tell me he would take the case, I learned that the baby had died! I was SO sad and heart broken that we could not save this precious little boy. We decided that the next medical baby that needed our help, would not die while waiting for the red tape.
In January, 2004, a cleft baby girl was born. The orphanage director emailed me about her and told me that she had never had a cleft baby girl live and could we help? All the wheels were put into motion and we decided that I would just fly down and get the baby rather than wait for the airlines to provide the ticket, thereby saving time. About that time, all the trouble and turmoil erupted in Haiti with Aristide leaving office and it seemed as though we would lose another little life. BUT, the baby didn't die and in April I went down with my 20 year old daughter and picked this precious three month old baby girl up.
She was too tiny to have her initial surgery, but at least she was in a place where she could get medical care if she needed it. We loved her and fed her and in a few months she had her first surgery. Everyone at the hospital was so nice to us and the doctor did a wonderful job with her lip...I didn't even recognize her in the recovery room! We also decided that this little girl was to be in our family...if it was at all possible.
So, we started on the paper trail one more time...for the last time. She still needs surgery to close her palate, and the adoption is not yet finished...but we know that the Lord gave us our last little daughter who is such a blessing to our family. She is the first cleft baby girl to live from our orphanage, her name means "beautiful"...it is the name her birthmom gave her not knowing what it meant...and she is beautiful on the inside as well as the outside. She is perfect in every way and we can't imagine our lives without her! She will need speech therapy and orthodontic work, she may need some more tubes in her ears...but in our eyes...she is perfect!
Thanks for giving us the opportunity to share our family's story. We hope that it touched you in some way and encouraged you to consider the "less than perfect" children from Haiti.