When we have the opportunity to help anyone, we should do it. -Galatians 6:10a (NCV)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Strength of Two Mothers

This past week I watched two families and countless friends say goodbye and celebrate the life of Nadine.

Last Wednesday Nadine had multiple strokes during a procedure at Nationwide Children's Hospital. She was placed on a ventilator. David and I got the call Wednesday evening from Nadine's host mother, Sheree and headed out to Peredo to pick up Nadine's birth parents and one of her sisters on Thursday morning.

We brought them back to our house where we waited to Skype in with the doctors, host family and then to see Nadine.

My heart was breaking for her host family in Ohio who loved this child like their own. They really did. The took amazing care of Nadine running her to so many doctor's appointments, being patient with her "Nadine" personality and giving her experiences in the US she never would have dreamed of in Haiti.

My heart also was breaking for the family sitting next to me in my stuffy little office surrounding a computer screen. The family I met five years ago and who had trusted me this past March to take their daughter to the US for life saving medical treatment. The mother who had raised Nadine the best she could with no access to medical care in a very poor village in Haiti. The father who always believed his daughter would die with her illness. And an older sister who just so happened not to go to school that day.

I applaud Nationwide Children's Hospital for the efforts they made to include Nadine's Haitian family in this difficult situation. They skyped with an interpreter explaining again and again her condition and prognosis. They showed a family who had never even heard of a ventilator the complicated Machine that was breathing for their daughter. They allowed multiple visitors into a PICU room, spilling out into the hallway to be present. Many past caregivers of Nadine's came to her bedside and some prayed over her, all surrounded her host family giving them support.

I watched my laptop screen as Nadine's birth mother's words were translated for her host mother. Two women who loved one child...one of them gave her up in order for her to find healing, the other accepted and loved her like one of her birth children. While Nadine's birth mother was heartbroken, she was extremely grateful. The last thing she said to Sheree was, "Nadine was our daughter, but now I see she was yours too. Thank you so much."

I sat with the woman who did not get to be by her daughter's side in those last moments. And like so many other Haitian women going through hard times, she sat strong. Her eyes never left the screen as she watched Sheree and Dave say good bye to Nadine. She took in all the medical equipment in that ICU room. And then she stood up. She said she was ready to go home and tell the rest of the family that Nadine was gone.

Nadine passed away Thursday evening with Mama Sheree and Papa Dave and her American siblings by her side.

Mothers are strong. It took strength to raise a child with a deforming illness in a country where there is little medical hope. It took strength to let her go, hoping for treatment and healing. It took strength to accept a child from a different country, who spoke a different language, and who at times had challenging behaviors in your home. It took strength to continue caring for this child when multiple NEW medical needs came into the picture.

And it took strength to say goodbye.

Nadine's birth mother in Haiti in 2010

Nadine with her family Christmas 2012

I feel blessed to have witnessed this strength from both of Nadine's mothers.

So in closing,

Nadine...You were loved by two families in two different worlds. But now you are being loved by the Best in the best world yet. 
Ale avek Bondye...Nap toujou sonje ou Cheri.

***Thank you to everyone who helped Nadine in one way or another...it is a long list. Here are a few that helped get her to the states on a medical visa.
Dana Noffsinger
Dr Shiels
Nationwide Children's Hospital
Sheree and family
Angel Missions Haiti
Beth and David H and family

Saturday, January 5, 2013

 Here are pictures from the younger kid's Christmas Party last week.


 After 99 games of musical chairs...

They all enjoyed hotdogs, cupcakes, fruitsnacks, popcorn and juice. 

They all also each received a small gift including hair barrettes, matchbox cars, crayons, sandals, or fun cartoon character socks.

I know this is a brief report of the party...but we are tired after all these parties. They were fun but baking 110 cupcakes in a little tiny oven and watching the 99 games of musical chairs and listening to them cry for more...we are exhausted!

Thank you for your support! You made 150 kids in 2 parties very happy for Christmas.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

When I look back at 2012, I think of it as the year the most things changed in my life.

-Odessa's adoption was (finally!) finalized in Haiti. Seeing her name with "Andrews" now legally attached to the end of it, made my heart (that had been beating anxiously to get it done since May 8, 2010) settle back into it's regular rhythm.

The first time I ever held Odessa

-I got married! Boy has that been an adjustment...a good one of course ;)

-The ladies at my home church sent me a "wedding shower in a suitcase" because I was getting married in Haiti.

-Some of my aunts and cousins planned a surprise wedding shower for me that was really nice. Complete with Pinterest-inspired decorating! And I do not have ONE single picture to post!

-Over the past year we temporarily took in 2 abandoned newborns, one teenage mother and her newborn, one child who had been living on the streets in Port au Prince, and a sick toddler.

-In 2012 we welcomed 3 foster teenagers into our home for a one year trial period. One orphan living on the streets, one child who has been a slave for 4 different families in her life and one child who is legally blind.

- Transported 3 medical children to the states for life-saving surgery

- Worked with 29 families in the microloan process. Processed their loans, repayments, followed their businesses and family lives.

-Partnered with 10 families on a matched-savings account to help them pay for their children's school. Signed up 20 families for the same program this coming year. 

-Helped a family rebuild their house after a fire.



-Survived one tropical storm and one hurricane

-Got to Skype often with my family back home home.

-And we got a Christmas surprise that will be "delivered" in July!


 The sadness is still here in Haiti. Imagine everywhere you go people begging for money and children begging for food. Haiti is our home now and this has become my normal. Normal now to walk up to the small market by my house to buy a Coke and have 2 or 3 kids tell me how hungry they are. Normal for us to cut back on our dinner portions to share. Normal for Children's Services to come by and say we are the "last chance" this kid has for the night or they will sleep in the adult jail. Normal to do a home visit and want to take the malnourished kids home, give them a bath, make them some mac and cheese and let them watch a movie. And normal that when I go to these houses of the poorest of the poor, they always try to give me eggs or vegetables or fresh cow's milk.

Chocking back tears until I got home is normal...that has never gone away. Feeling guilty when putting leftovers in our mini-fridge has never gone away.  Prayers of thankfulness when tucking Odessa in her clean bed with a full belly night after night...those never stop.

1 John 3:17-18
"If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 

So without any more preaching...

Let's remember the poor in 2013. And the HOPE we all have in Jesus.