Kreyol song: Syel La Desann (Heaven Came Down)

SYEL LA DESANN Ala yon mèveye mèvèye jou Jou m pa ka janmen bliye Lè m te nan tenèb pèdi nan labou Jezi sovè mwen kontre Ala yon zanmi ki gen charite Li satisfè m ak gras li Li pran tristès mwen, li banm alegrès E li fè tout tenèb mwen pati Syèl la desann […]
Posted in Blog, Faith, Haiti News | Tagged | Leave a comment

Open International Adoption, Is that a thing? Part III

Please find Part I  and Part II of this series and the additional post 'On opening ourselves up to pain and possibility', if you have not already read them.

Sharing photos and history with one another

  *         *         *         *

Part III has been the hardest to write because it is difficult to determine which things should be kept private and which things are important to share.  Our two older Haitian children are open to sharing a bit about their experiences but their families do not have the access and privilege we have and that makes it feel a tiny bit scary to share with total strangers and trust that our hearts will be heard and understood. The relationships are difficult to describe and we want you to know that what we share is only a portion of the total. Some of the detailed information and history of what we have learned as our relationship has grown with the first families would best be shared face to face. 

These birth-families are 'our people' and we never want to share anything that would feel uncomfortable or embarrassing to them because we deeply respect them and we have learned they do not want or need our pity, they simply want and DESERVE our respect and honor. These are kind, loving, hard-working, capable people that just happen to be materially poor and live in a country where changing that is very, very difficult. 

There is one caveat required on these 'open' international adoption posts that is too important to neglect. Before anyone can consider an open adoption, they first have a responsibility to be sure that the adoption they are doing is ethical and legitimate. I wish I had known more and done better. 

Our two first-mothers don't express any regret whatsoever about their decisions, but they were manipulated at the time of relinquishment (promised things we were not privy to at the time) and we regret that happened to them. 

I understand that lots and lots of North Americans believe that their wealth automatically and unequivocally makes them better suited to raise the poor people's children. I do not agree and there is a large problem with that thinking. For those that don't automatically think that all poor children should be taken from their parents, I urge you to do way more research about your agency and country than seems necessary. I beg you to walk away if you see or sense something is not quite right. The only way to stop the corrupt system from preying on vulnerable people is to refuse to be a part of that system.
  
{For more thoughts on the corruption in International Adoption, take some time to read this post and the follow up after it.}

Isaac was adopted when he was 14 months old. He met his Mom again when he was four. We see her once or twice a year as a habit. He met his Dad for the first time when he was ten. His parents are together (again) now and have three other children that they are parenting and one other that they placed for adoption. Recently Isaac visited their home for the first time, prior to that all visits had taken place at the Maternity Center.

I asked Isaac to talk and let me type what he said. This is his stream of consciousness regarding his most recent visit to their home last month.

Isaac said:
"One important thing was that I learned was the story of when I was born and the story of that was pretty awesome and I learned that my grandmother delivered me at the house my family lived at in... (he paused and couldn't remember where) I have the date of my REAL birthday date and now we can celebrate the right day because we had the wrong day and now I get to have a birthday sooner this year. I learned that I have three siblings that have stayed with our Mom and Dad. I felt happy knowing that they are okay and knowing their house is great and they are okay and that one of them had a notebook full of English. It was important for me to know why they decided to place me. I think I look like my dad and my mom and my 14 year old brother a lot. I'd like to see them again and I know they are sad about not seeing other parts of their family that were adopted and I'd like to keep in contact." (I asked Isaac at this point if there was anything he is worried about?) He said: Well, it would be cool for them to be able to go to the States and have some fun and I'd like them to see what I have seen but I know that is probably not very possible.  It is okay that they placed me but I wonder sometimes what it would be like to be with them but that doesn't mean that is what I want, it is just what I wonder. I am glad I have Noah and this family and that is good  - the best actually - but I still wonder of course. It is weird to think that I might be scared of dogs if I had stayed with my first family. I think that they are good people and I love them and I don't speak their language fluently so sometimes that part is hard."



These photos are from our March visit.  We went all together with Isaac's little sister that has also be adopted and lives in the USA. It was the first time the family had all their kids together in one place. Their grandma showed up and is the feisty power behind the scenes. Grandma had TONS to say and shared her frustration with not knowing about some of her grand kids that have been placed in families in the USA. (Isaac has aunts that have placed children too.) She somehow found out that one family that adopted her grand kids went through a divorce and she had some things to say about that. She prayed with lots of energy over the group before we said goodbye.

Isaac's Maternal Grandmother 
Brothers checking out photos of their little sister that lives in USA
The entire Antoine Family (Mom and Dad with all five kids)
Isaac with his Maternal Grandma and his Mom
5' 3" 12 year old with his Dad and Mom at their home







If you know our Hope, you know she has less to say than Isaac.  It is not because she has less thoughts or is not a truly deep thinker, it is because she is of the opinion that not everything she thinks needs to be said. :)  (ahem!) 

Hope met her birth mother at age 4 too. She was adopted at 9 months of age and was very ill as an infant. Her kidney surgery at 10 months of age was necessary in-part because she was passing kidney stones. Hope's birth mother wondered if she might die before her adoption was complete but she expressed gratitude to God that it was completed quickly and surgery was possible.  (Back when Hope and Isaac were adopted the process was 6 to 12 months long once you delivered your dossier to Haiti. That has changed over the years into a much longer process.)

Hope's first-mom has seen her at least once a year since she was four years old. Hope and Phoebe are the last two children born to their Mom. (Phoebe is only seven years old and has not been visiting quite as much. She has seen their Mom but always has the choice about visiting. The last time we went she chose to stay back.)  From their biological mother, Phoebe and Hope have three much older siblings that live in Haiti. We have become fairly close with Hope and Phoebe's older sisters, they have both been in the Prenatal Program at Heartline. One delivered with us and one lost her baby after delivering prematurely last summer. They also have three more siblings that live in the USA with two different adoptive families. They have a little contact with the USA siblings and have met one of the three. 

Hope recently visited her Mom's home AND met her birth father for the very first time.  Hope had never been interested in meeting him until this year.  In January she asked if we could find him and we called her birth-mom who promptly made some calls and arranged a day for them to meet. While they are not together, they are friendly and don't mind staying in touch.  (Both Hope and Isaac did not have fathers listed on their adoption paperwork, the orphanage instructed the mothers to claim either not to know who the dad was or to say that the dads had died.) 

Hope said:
"The best part of this is seeing how my face is made, how I can see why I look the way I look." "The worst part is that I don't speak Kreyol well and I cannot understand much of what they say or talk to them by myself. I hope that my Kreyol will improve and one day I will be able to talk to them without my Mom and Dad translating for me."  Hope added that she found it slightly confusing that her (birth) Mom and Dad seem to be friends and like each other and in Hope's mind it is odd that they didn't stay together if they like one another.  


Momma Hope, Hope, Papa Hope


Hope's sister showing us letters from the families that have adopted her child.

Hope's first hug from her first father


We have brutally honest conversations about adoption and we want our kids to have the freedom and ability to bring it up whenever they want. We have made a decision to "do it afraid" when it comes to these relationships.  I don't say that in any self-congratulatory way, I simply share it because you don't need to wait until you are not afraid to enter into these sorts of things.  It is scary but usually the courage you use to do it anyway ends up being its own gift and much can be learned from risking in relationships. We have moved forward carefully in each decision with a desire to do what is best for our kids.  As they have gotten older, these relationships have grown. Our hope and prayer is that it helps our children and their first families have more joy,  more healing, and more peace.

tara and troy 
Posted in Adoption Ethics, adoption fraud, Haiti Adoption, Haiti News, International Adoption, Open International Adoption, transracial adoption | Tagged | Leave a comment

Beauty From Ashes


'The shaking was only the beginning. When a massive earthquake devastated Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince, the staff at God's Littlest Angels orphanage knew their biggest challenges were still ahead. Their buildings had stood and the 152 children in their care were alive, but the future was uncertain and survival was by no means guaranteed. In this honest and heart-wrenching account of living through the struggles of the earthquake's aftermath, Melanie Wright Zeeb shares her own experiences as well as those of other staff members and adoptive families around the world. In Haiti, the staff faced shortages of food, water, medicine, and other supplies, and the fear of not being able to acquire more. The nerve-rattling aftershocks continued, adding to the stress of survival and the emotional and psychological trauma of living through a horrific natural disaster. Around the world, adoptive families waited anxiously and helplessly from afar, knowing that their children were in the middle of a disaster zone. For most of those families, their heartache transformed into unbelievable joy when their children were evacuated out of Haiti and into their arms. Beauty from Ashes is a story of suffering, pain, and loss, but also of hope, survival, and healing.'

Beauty From Ashes is written by my very good friend, Melanie Wright Zeeb. It is her account of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Drawing on eyewitness testimony from me and from board members, volunteers and adoptive families who rallied on behalf of our children, the book avoids the tendency to romanticize the evacuation of Haiti's orphaned children as a fairy tale ending to a tragic episode in Haiti's history.  Read the story of Reselaure, a five month old from my nursery, who developed severe bacterial meningitis with a brain abscess the the day before we evacuated her and 80 other Children to Miami. She would never have survived, had the earthquake not set off the chain of events that it did. Another chronically ill child, though, was denied entry to the united states. Due to a catalog of errors, it would be 3.5 years before that child would be allowed to leave Haiti. Read the untold story of a dozen French families, who suffered unbearable anguish at the lack of advocacy for their children, who were finally evacuated over 11 months later.  Other families, whose children did make it out of Haiti were rocked by the unexpected trauma of parenting children profoundly damaged by events that occurred long before the earthquake. Then, of course, there were the 300,000 people who died that day in January, 2012. Many of their bodies would never be found.  Beauty from Ashes is not a fairytale, it is a true story, told with authenticity. It is available for pre-order on Amazon!
Posted in Haiti News | Leave a comment

Planting season

The mountain sides in our area are just beginning to show signs of life.  There have been a few good rains the past few weeks.  The farmers are beginning to prepare for the upcoming rainy season.  In our area there are lots of watermelons, beans and corn that will be planted. Many farmers choose to […]
Posted in Faith, Haiti News, Needs | Tagged | Leave a comment

How Prenatal Care = Orphan Prevention


Lisa Rieb is our guest today. She is the adoptive Mother of Moses. A tiny portion of his story can be found here and here. The rest of his story is unfolding in Wyoming right now.


* * * *


By Lisa Rieb


Most women (65%) in Haiti have no access to prenatal care and give birth at home, often resulting in maternal death or infant death. We don't fully know our son Moses' birth history, but putting clues together has led us to believe he suffered a brain injury at birth, causing his cerebral palsy. His birth mother most likely gave birth at home with little to no help, and nowhere to go if she faced complications. The fact that she was able to care for him as long as she did speaks to her great love and nurturing of him until his disability became to great a burden to bear. We are firm supporters of what Heartline Ministries in Haiti offers women. Prenatal care, labor and delivery services, lactation suppor, child development education, midwifery care, and so much more. We know that what they do keeps women and children safe and together. This is orphan prevention. Loving the mothers and children of Haiti like we would love ourselves and our sisters and friends. I can't help but wonder how life for Moses would be different had his birth mom had the love and care available through the Heartline programs. We are privileged to be his parents. He is a precious boy full of Joy, even in disability. We think his life story is meant to be shared as a testimony of how we should care for our neighbors whether near or far. Seeing Beth, Tara, Wini, and Andrema (and many others!) in action while I was in Haiti was an experience I'll never forget. They really do love their jobs, love the people of Haiti well, and do the hard work not only of delivering babies, but of entering into the messy relationships of life in order to be grace and mercy to Haitian women and children. Won't you consider supporting their ministry with a one time donation or monthly donation? Maybe you would like to do this in honor of Moses and his brave birth mom. Perhaps you want to give in honor of a child you or a friend has lost. The gifts are a way to say we are for our neighbors in Haiti and for their families. 
Thank you!



To give, please go here to donate. If you would like to learn about other options for giving, please write to teri.white @ heartlineministries.org
Posted in Haiti News, Heartline Maternity Center, Maternal Health, Orphan, Orphan Care, Orphan Prevention | Leave a comment

Visiting Haiti: Hotel Cyvadier Plage


Haiti is a great place to visit on it's own merit.  You don't need to do a project or go on a mission to visit Haiti.  And so I am going to create a tab on my blog where I am going to start reviewing places to visit and things to do when you visit Haiti.  I thought I'd start with my favorite place in the Jacmel area and that is, without a doubt, Hotel Cyvadier Plage.

Nestled into a cove right on the ocean, the view is perfection. The atmosphere is perfect for a breakfast with an ocean view, a quick lunch for business, a leisurely lunch for pleasure, a romantic dinner for two, or even a get-together with friends.

The restaurant, which overlooks the cover and provides and excellent view for sunsets, is the only place I've ever been in this area that has consistently good food, and everything on the menu. Oftentimes, when you visit a restaurant in Haiti they give you the menu and then they only have 3-4 things on the menu. So, most times, when you are handed a menu in Haiti, you must ask, “What do you have tonight?” And they will say they have everything on the menu. And then you will try to order off the menu and they will say, “No, we don't have that.” They usually don't have the next thing you want either, and so you finally get back to your initial question, “What do you have tonight?” Cyvadier Plage is not like that. They almost always have everything on the menu, other than the very rare occasion where something is in high demand and they sell out, just like you would get in any North American restaurant.

The other thing that makes Cyvadier Plage stand out is that the food is not the typical Haitian menu. Sure, you can get traditional Haitian dishes like Creole chicken or spaghetti, but you can also get some really neat Haitian fusion dishes. The proprietor, Christophe Lang, is a professionally trained chef and not just a guy who knows how to cook a few things. The dish I always recommend to people is his Lambi Thai. Lambi is Creole for conch, and so it's conch served in a Thai coconut curry sauce. The sauce is perfection. And I am not just saying, “Oh it's perfection... for Haiti.” No, it's perfection for anywhere. Because I am not a big seafood eater, sometimes, if they are not too busy, I can talk the kitchen into making chicken with the Thai curry sauce. Probably my favorite meal ever. And I really like food. (Obviously.)  They also always have a selection of fresh fruit juices that is based on whatever is in season.

Several times I've spent a night or two over in the hotel as a little mini-getaway from my life. The rooms are very, very clean. Most of the rooms are air-conditioned. (You can request air conditioning when making the reservation, it's not just luck of the draw.) There are 6 new “deluxe” suites that were just opened last year that are very modern and comfortable. There is hot water in the showers. There is a small pool and two different walkway entrances to the cove's beach. While the cove not the best swimming location in the Jacmel area (because the bottom is rocky in places), it's perfect for a little afternoon dip or a place to play in the sand with the kids.

Christophe does a great job with customer service. You will never have someone come hassle you while you are in his hotel/restaurant about buying something, or begging for something. There is usually a souvenir guy set up on one of the beaches by his cove, but they are very non-pushy, and I repeat, you will never get bothered in the restaurant or hotel. There aren't stray dogs coming up to your table, like at many other outdoor restaurants in the area. The staff is professional, clean, kind, and polite. The food is delivered in a reasonable time. (Sure, it takes longer than it does in most restaurants in the States) but it's always hot and fresh. And it's consistently delivered in a timely (for Haiti) fashion.


My favorite night to visit Cyvadier Plage is Friday night because it's when they have pizza night. It's standing date with Nick and I. We shoot to go every Friday but we only hit it about every other Friday or so. Friday there is a special pizza menu with some really delicious gourmet pizza options. My favorite is the vegetarian pizza which has spinach, peppers, onions, olives, and (the best part) fried eggplant. So unlike anything I've ever tried anywhere else. I recommend you ask for it to be served with a side of lwil piman (hot pepper oil) if you want, to dip your crust. So freaking delish.


Cyvadier Plage also does great parties-- we've been to parties there on Haitian flag day and on New Year's Eve.  Dance expositions, champagne, fireworks. So fun.

(fireworks over the water on New Year's Eve)

Best of all, the place is totally non-pretentious. It's a welcoming environment to lots of different types of people. You will see different classes of Haitians there, you will see ex-pats and missionaries, you will see European/North American/Dominican vacationers, you will see UN soldiers, you will see government groups doing lunch meetings/conferences. There's something for everyone there.

Next time you're in Jacmel, check it out!

(Note:  I was not asked to write this review, I just wanted to.)
Posted in Haiti News, visitinghaiti | Leave a comment

Visiting Haiti: Hotel Cyvadier Plage


Haiti is a great place to visit on it's own merit.  You don't need to do a project or go on a mission to visit Haiti.  And so I am going to create a tab on my blog where I am going to start reviewing places to visit and things to do when you visit Haiti.  I thought I'd start with my favorite place in the Jacmel area and that is, without a doubt, Hotel Cyvadier Plage.

Nestled into a cove right on the ocean, the view is perfection. The atmosphere is perfect for a breakfast with an ocean view, a quick lunch for business, a leisurely lunch for pleasure, a romantic dinner for two, or even a get-together with friends.

The restaurant, which overlooks the cover and provides and excellent view for sunsets, is the only place I've ever been in this area that has consistently good food, and everything on the menu. Oftentimes, when you visit a restaurant in Haiti they give you the menu and then they only have 3-4 things on the menu. So, most times, when you are handed a menu in Haiti, you must ask, “What do you have tonight?” And they will say they have everything on the menu. And then you will try to order off the menu and they will say, “No, we don't have that.” They usually don't have the next thing you want either, and so you finally get back to your initial question, “What do you have tonight?” Cyvadier Plage is not like that. They almost always have everything on the menu, other than the very rare occasion where something is in high demand and they sell out, just like you would get in any North American restaurant.

The other thing that makes Cyvadier Plage stand out is that the food is not the typical Haitian menu. Sure, you can get traditional Haitian dishes like Creole chicken or spaghetti, but you can also get some really neat Haitian fusion dishes. The proprietor, Christophe Lang, is a professionally trained chef and not just a guy who knows how to cook a few things. The dish I always recommend to people is his Lambi Thai. Lambi is Creole for conch, and so it's conch served in a Thai coconut curry sauce. The sauce is perfection. And I am not just saying, “Oh it's perfection... for Haiti.” No, it's perfection for anywhere. Because I am not a big seafood eater, sometimes, if they are not too busy, I can talk the kitchen into making chicken with the Thai curry sauce. Probably my favorite meal ever. And I really like food. (Obviously.)  They also always have a selection of fresh fruit juices that is based on whatever is in season.

Several times I've spent a night or two over in the hotel as a little mini-getaway from my life. The rooms are very, very clean. Most of the rooms are air-conditioned. (You can request air conditioning when making the reservation, it's not just luck of the draw.) There are 6 new “deluxe” suites that were just opened last year that are very modern and comfortable. There is hot water in the showers. There is a small pool and two different walkway entrances to the cove's beach. While the cove not the best swimming location in the Jacmel area (because the bottom is rocky in places), it's perfect for a little afternoon dip or a place to play in the sand with the kids.

Christophe does a great job with customer service. You will never have someone come hassle you while you are in his hotel/restaurant about buying something, or begging for something. There is usually a souvenir guy set up on one of the beaches by his cove, but they are very non-pushy, and I repeat, you will never get bothered in the restaurant or hotel. There aren't stray dogs coming up to your table, like at many other outdoor restaurants in the area. The staff is professional, clean, kind, and polite. The food is delivered in a reasonable time. (Sure, it takes longer than it does in most restaurants in the States) but it's always hot and fresh. And it's consistently delivered in a timely (for Haiti) fashion.


My favorite night to visit Cyvadier Plage is Friday night because it's when they have pizza night. It's standing date with Nick and I. We shoot to go every Friday but we only hit it about every other Friday or so. Friday there is a special pizza menu with some really delicious gourmet pizza options. My favorite is the vegetarian pizza which has spinach, peppers, onions, olives, and (the best part) fried eggplant. So unlike anything I've ever tried anywhere else. I recommend you ask for it to be served with a side of lwil piman (hot pepper oil) if you want, to dip your crust. So freaking delish.


Cyvadier Plage also does great parties-- we've been to parties there on Haitian flag day and on New Year's Eve.  Dance expositions, champagne, fireworks. So fun.

(fireworks over the water on New Year's Eve)

Best of all, the place is totally non-pretentious. It's a welcoming environment to lots of different types of people. You will see different classes of Haitians there, you will see ex-pats and missionaries, you will see European/North American/Dominican vacationers, you will see UN soldiers, you will see government groups doing lunch meetings/conferences. There's something for everyone there.

Next time you're in Jacmel, check it out!

(Note:  I was not asked to write this review, I just wanted to.)
Posted in Haiti News | Leave a comment

Pictures from the ICU :)

 
Posted in Blog, Haiti News | Leave a comment

Haitian Children in the Dominican Republic

Maria--April, 2014--Photo by John Carroll

Maria–April, 2014–Photo by John Carroll

Children of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic (DR) are in trouble. See this article how they may retroactively be stripped of their Dominican citizenship and thus be a citizen of nowhere. As the article explains these children may be denied the ability to attend school and be forced into labor.

However, twelve year old Maria (above) is in more trouble than most. She was born in the DR and only speaks Spanish. She likes school very much and is a good student. Her Haitian born mother migrated to the DR many years ago and speaks Creole and Spanish and works as a house-lady for a Dominican family in the countryside several hours outside of Santo Domingo.

Maria’s mother brought her to cardiology clinic last week in Santo Domingo. Her mother told me that she knew Maria had a “heart problem” for years but she had no money to do anything about it. Maria was obviously too skinny even for a “Dominican-Haitian” kid and she had a loud heart murmur. And Maria’s lungs were CLEAR of excess fluid which was actually a BAD sign. It told me that her lungs have been severely damaged from her chronic heart disease and cannot accept the amount of blood that they should.

Maria’s echocardiogram documented that she has untreated congenital heart disease called AV Canal. And over the years too much blood has been pumped into her lungs and her blood pressure in her lungs is as high as the blood pressure in her arms. This is bad.

After further testing we had to tell Maria’s mother and Maria that she is not a candidate for heart surgery. It is too late because of the high pressure in her lungs. Maria needed to be operated years ago.

So for this spunky and beautiful Maria being stripped of her Dominican citizenship and possibly barred from school are now the least of her worries.

John A. Carroll, MD
www.haitianhearts.org

Posted in Haiti News | Leave a comment

Sunday is coming …






This photo was taken in 2011. It is the area of Haiti where over 100,000 people have relocated post-earthquake to a dusty mountainside area. This is Antoinette.  She is a good friend from the days of the field-hospital. She taught many of us after the quake and continues to do so today. Antoinette lives with hope that Friday's suffering will lead to Sunday's resurrection. 




Photo Credit: Esther Havens
Posted in Haiti News | Leave a comment