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

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