Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Kids Helping Kids

Thank you to Ms. Mosier and her kindergarten class. They got their entire elementary school to do a penny drive for Hope.

Ms. Mosier is a friend of our blog. She's never met us personally - or any of the families - but she knew that her kids could help the kids in Haiti.

They put a big sign up outside the school:

They set up jars and containers

 And together they raised nearly $1000 for Hope!

Thank you Ms. Mosier!!


Thank you for taking the time to help your kids learn how to help and serve others by helping our kids.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ki Se Ti Bebe Mwen?

Brent made up this little song about "who is my baby?"

There's a little dance they do together, too. It's obscenely sweet!

Yesterday, Brent started drumming on the counter and Nathan started singing it.

Prepare to get tooth decay from how adorable he is! (Nathan, of course, although I think Brent's pretty cute as well)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Words of Comfort from a Friend

Because this is my blog and I'm using it as my journal of these experiences, I've been going back through some of the emails from the Haiti Earthquake Saga and creating posts off the ones that I want to remember.

This one was sent to me from a dear friend on Jan 25th.  We'd found out the day before that we probably weren't going to get Miss Jessica home.  I didn't feel like I could really talk about it to many people, and I really didn't want to explain the whole ordeal over and over again, but I did tell my friend, Ron, about what was happening.

This was Ron's response:

Lori, I’ve been thinking about our conversation all morning and I wanted to share a few thoughts (sorry I was babbling this morning, I just didn’t know what to say).  I hope Jessica makes it on the plane above all else, but I hope these words provide you and Brent some comfort if she doesn’t.
·         It’s a blessing that she survived the quake and is healthy.
·         If she can’t be with you, it’s a blessing she’s with someone who WANTS to care for her rather than someone who HAS to care for her.
·         I’m hopeful that, knowing good people wanted to adopt her, Jessica’s birth father will raise her with a higher standard of care, something she has both of you to thank for.
·         I’m hopeful that Haiti will be a much better place to grow up in, in coming years, with all the relief efforts that have been committed to.
·         It’s a blessing that you got to spend the amount of time with her that you did and both of you, as well as her, will have those memories forever.
Even if she doesn’t end up on the plane, don’t underestimate the positive impact you’ve had  and will continue to have on her life.
Take care and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Email History: Humanitarian Paroles

And here's another one that is very indicative of what we were going through around Jan 25th:

I've had several people ask me if the parents should go down to Haiti to get their kids out themselves because "the parents that are doing down are getting their kids out".

Let me make this clear.

NO ONE is getting Humanitarian Parole paperwork today.  NO ONE. 

The families that may have got their kids out did so prior to President Preval's announcement.

It will NOT HELP to have more parents trying to get into the Embassy in a country that is already in complete chaos.

I know you're frustrated.  Believe me.  I have a husband and two kids on the ground (one whom is still missing).  I don't think you realize how blessed we've been to be working with Chareyl and Lindsay in this situation.  They were literally INSPIRED to tell us what paperwork needed to be gathered.  They've compiled these very organized, very detailed packets on each of the children.  There is literally NOT A DOCUMENT that the Haitian Government could want (that still exists) that is not in those packets. 

And how would you get back home if you did that?  Where would you stay?  How would you eat?

I, myself, am starting to get a bit frustrated that I keep hearing that people think they could "do this better themselves".  Chareyl actually knows people PERSONALLY at the Embassy.  She's been doing Haitian adoptions for years.  I don't think you're going to have more luck than she has had.  I don't think you're going to be able to navigate the system better than she has done.

They have literally put themselves at risk to get your children out. 

I suggest, once again, that you try to focus your energy on praying for their success.  Pray for President Preval to have his heart softened.  Pray that there are some last miracles in this mess.  Pray that our babies are allowed to be on that plane.

And maybe pray for more patience for yourself and each other while we're all waiting.

I know it's hard.  Believe me - I know.  But I also trust God and I trust Chareyl.  If anyone can do this - they can.

You're welcome to yell at me if you like, but I promise you - there have been unbelievable miracles in this. 

Pray for one more.

Email History: Work Check-in

I've been updating the Team Hope site with many of the email notifications that were part of this miracle and that fill in the gaps in the story.  I thought I'd post some here as well.

This is one that I sent to my fabulous employer on January 25th.  (and I really do mean that - I work for a great company!)

So, I feel like I need to check in with work...

I really appreciate that you've given me the leeway to focus on this mess in Haiti.  The client has been wonderfully supportive and the team has really been awesome.  I really hope I still have a job when this is done.  Thank you for your patience with this literal disaster.

I have to tell you I have used all my best project manager skills in this last week.  I've coordinated with senators, congressmen, Homeland Security, embassies, and 30 families.  We're trying to get 70 children home.  And it's been a 20 hour a day job for a week now.  And I've found that parents are just like clients and that some of these families aren't happy no matter what gets pulled together for them.  Some things are apparently universal.

On Saturday, I got some "scope creep".  They called and said the plane they thought they had wasn't going to line up with the paperwork being finished at the embassy.  We dealt with that. We got a plane (I say "we" because it's been me and the Lord PM'ing this one).

And then today, the Haitian government decided to have a temper tantrum like a Sunbeam on steroids, and now they won't give us the paperwork that has been approved.  And I find that I can't PM my way out of this one. 

I'm trying to be positive (although still sarcastic) and believe that somehow this is still going to work out.  Maybe that's why the plane we wanted for a Tuesday departure came through as a Thursday departure.

Maybe we needed these 2 extra days to get Haiti to calm down and give us the documents and for us to find my Jessica.  She's the only one of the 70 kids that hasn't been gathered to the location in Fontamara, Haiti that we're using as our "home" for the team on the ground (which includes my husband... it's been a week).

So, if things go well - if the Lord has another miracle for me, I'll be a mom on Thursday.  I may need to work at home for a bit.  We have a day care option.  I just need to make sure my kid(s) realize that Mama and Papa come home every time they leave (unlike what their life experience has taught them thus far).

I don't know what the other option is (if things don't go well) so I don't have a response for that one.

Please keep us in your prayers.  That's really what we need most now.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Putting out an A.P.B....

I'm looking for a tall, handsome, single, 30-something, active LDS man.

No, silly... not for me.

For my friend, Tia.

She's one of my heroes for a hundred reasons, but most recently because she followed the promptings of the Spirit and moved forward with adopting a beautiful child from Haiti, all on her own.

That's right, she comes with a built-in Collin:

I want her to be happy forever and right now, she feels like she needs to find "Mr. Right" so her family can be complete.

So if you've seen him.... Mr. Right, that is... please send him over.

I have a friend I want him to meet.

Helena Handbasket

We have this basket that was handmade by our friend's mother.  We have some of Nathan's small toys in it in his bedroom.  He was toting it around the house the other day and when I turned around I saw this:

He might possibly have needed help getting out. 

My friend Troy told me that his son has been praying for our family.  He said 

He is so cute and thoughtful. He prays every night for you and Nathan that you are happy and loving each other.   Also that he is thankful that he was able to come home to Utah.  He also prays that Jessica's dad will get her to where she needs to be.
Funny... that sounds pretty much exactly like what we pray for.  Thanks, JT.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Suffer the Little Children

Published in Meridian Magazine
Written by Randon Draper
Lt. Col. Draper has been helping to get the remaining children from our group home.  He's been a true hero for us during this ordeal.

Editor’s Note: Randon H. Draper is an LDS Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, and as an attorney on the ground in Haiti, found himself in a unique position to help the approved and documented Haitian orphans actually leave the country for their adoptive homes.  He’s never seen such miracles before in his work, and he shares his story here.

I landed in the darkness of the Port-au-Price international airport at 0400 on the morning of 14 January 2010, less than thirty-five hours after Haiti’s devastating earthquake.  Little did I know that my time here in Haiti would be one of the most profound spiritual experiences in my life as I worked to help transport adopted orphans to their families. I certainly did not anticipate that I would come to more fully appreciate the Savior’s admonition, “Suffer the little children to come unto me…”

The C-17 Globemaster is the workhorse transport of the US Air Force

As an Air Force attorney assigned to support the 621 Contingency Response Wing (CRW), I received six hours notice to depart my home base at Scott AFB, IL so I could drive to the airport and link up with the CRW at McGuire AFB, NJ.  After last minute adjustments to my pre-packed bags, and hurried good-byes to my wife, Anne, and our children, and last minute instructions to my seventeen-year-old son to help his brother complete his last pinewood derby, I departed for the airport and found my way to McGuire AFB.  There, we boarded a C-17 Globemaster, the workhorse of the Air Force, and flew to Toussaint Louverture International Airport.

When we arrived, there were faint lights on the dark hillside above the airport, but it was deathly quiet.  We began the work of setting up camp between the ramp and the runway.  The work of the CRW would bring in desperately needed supplies to a crippled nation in with a very small airport.  I was there to support this effort.

When operations began, I watched a well-orchestrated ballet of aircraft coming with supplies and leaving with evacuees.  I knew I would be working legal issues involving rules of engagement, contracting (for such luxuries as port-a-potties), and claims if we break things in the host nation (less concerns for that one here, unfortunately), but I wondered what unique issues this operation would have for me.  I had no idea that I would engage in the most satisfying work of my Air Force career–- helping to get orphans out of the country to their adoptive parents.

The adoption process requires both processing from the Haitian government and an adoption in the United States.  Prior to the quake, most adoptions would take up to two years or longer and would require a number of visits by the adoptive parents.  While it required government processing to complete the adoption, the parents and children were bonded to each other in their hearts and minds at the very beginning of the process.  They were, in the best of ways, already families; and on the 12th of January 2010, these families were separated by a crisis.

Within the first few days of the CRWs heaviest work of around-the-clock flight operations, I was tasked by senior leaders in the states to locate five children who were at the tail-end of their adoption, help process them through and get them on aircraft to their parents in the states.  As I went about this work, I felt the movings of the Spirit directing the course of events to bring these children home.  This event set the stage for many more miracles to come.

During the first two weeks, there seemed to be no end to the amount and urgency of the work which was only interrupted by four hours of sleep each night. Throughout my day, I would find organizations engaged in their own relief efforts and would learn of a need they had.  Keeping their contact information, I would go about my day with a prayer in my heart, that I could assist as many as I could, while engaged in my primary responsibilities.  I was in awe with the number of times I would come a across another organization that had the solution for the first organization in need.  I would marry them up, so solutions could be found.  The Spirit then guided, as it does still now, this work for others who labor for their brothers and sisters.

Although my deployment duties usually involved working large groups of adoptees through the process and on to military aircraft, I was tasked in a variety of ways to locate specific children with a various specific issues preventing their travel to the states. In one particular case, I was asked to locate a child for whom her parents waited, but for whom there was no record at the embassy.  Many files had been jumbled by the quake, and workers there were dealing with the personal impact of the crisis on their own homes and families.

I prayed for answers hoping that maybe someone could now marry up my need with an organization that would help. As I pondered over the child’s adoption paperwork that her parents provided, I recognized the name of a person whom I had met just two days before, as he came through the airport escorting a group of adoptive children.  For some reason I had written down his contact information, something I did not have in the adoption paperwork.  I was able to contact him and receive information needed to locate the girl’s paperwork.  By the end of that day, the child was on a plane heading for home.  The spirit surged in my heart, as tail of her aircraft lifted off into the Caribbean night air.

When I laid on my cot in the darkness later that night, I pondered on the undeniable promptings of the Spirit that had directed me in ways I had never before experienced with such consistency, helping me, and others as well, at every step in this work of getting children to their families.  Then for a moment, it was as though I could hear thousands of voices and thousand of prayers crying out for their children in this desperate time of need.  This was followed by an ushering forth of the Spirit which opened for me a brief glimpse of our Father's pure love for His littlest ones.  It was a feeling I have never before experienced; and it surpassed even the profound emotions felt at the birth of my own children.  I knelt to the side of my cot and silently wept, not wanting to wake others in the tent.

My experience that night drove my resolve as I advocated, at times against opposition, for a variety of needs to help the process in transporting the military’s most precious cargo.  That experience clarified my understandings that no matter how hard I work, this work belongs to our Father.  He knows the prayers of mothers and fathers, and He regards the tender hearts of His little ones as pearls of great price.

Shortly after this experience, I met the Utah Hospital Task Force, a cadre of medical staff and returned missionary translators.  Their spirits rekindled and strengthened mine.  Dear to the work in which I was engaged, their efforts made it possible to return a large group of adoptees to their parents.  They shared with me their experiences, which witnessed the miracle of reuniting families.

After the main group of the adoptees traveled from Haiti with the help of the task force, fifteen remained behind for a variety of issues that held up their processing.  Chareyl Moyes, a program manager with an adoption agency in Utah, and I teamed up to work on their return. Though distances apart, we added our prayers to the many others (including those of my own family back home) as we worked each child’s case – each needing a different solution and divine intervention, and all receiving an answer.  As I write this, only one remains in Haiti.  Her approval in the states was granted. We now only wait for the formality of approval from the Haitian Prime Minister.

Lt. Colonel Randon Draper comforting an orphan before evacuation from Haiti.

The work has not been easy.  There have been frustrations, set backs and downright opposition.  I have experienced both my highest highs and my lowest lows all within a day, and it starts all over the next day again.  My greatest reward for my token efforts in a work much greater than what man can do alone is in holding the little children who wait to be reunited with their families. I feel renewed strength and unmatched peace; I find refuge in the mist of a land in turmoil.

In the first week after I arrived, I overheard a young Air Force officer lamenting to a friend that he was returning home from his duty without having accomplished all that he wanted to do. I took an opportunity to interrupt, and reminded him that if he were here for six months, he would likely be saying the same thing – that we all want to get our hands dirty digging out those buried and dying, but we must be content to “lift where we stand” (quoting President Dieter Uchtdorf).  We do our small part and move on to the next task hoping that our efforts have made some difference to our fellow man. 

As I will depart within a week, I feel as the young officer did, and must now follow my own advice.  My experiences in Haiti will never be forgotten.  They have forged for me an understanding of the power of prayer, and the love of our Savior for the tender heart of each small child. It will be my time to look forward to my next task, but now with an even more understanding heart of the will of our Father for his children.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Follow Up With the Masons...

Last Wednesday night (Feb 10th) Nathan, Collin, Tia and I went down to the Masonic Lodge to meet the gentlemen who had done some fundraising for the Team Hope Families.

They were able to help some of the families who found themselves parents of Haitian children much quicker than originally anticipated.  They have been very kind to us and very supportive of these families. 

This picture is of Tia, Collin and "Grandpa Ken".  He's a very nice, very kind man who has taken us under his wing.

They also gave Nathan and Collin their first taste of cake and ice cream.  Nathan's little bottom jaw was chattering from cold and there were a few times that he started staring off into space (I think it was brain freeze) but he LOVED it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ground Control

Our friends and fellow adoptive parents, Matt and Julia, sent us a couple of pictures they took of the "Ground Control" that took over my office while Team Hope was on the ground in Haiti. 

Thanks, Matt and Julia for the pictures.  I posted the articles you gave me about Nathalie over on the Team Hope Blog on their appropriate days.

As for "Ground Control":
In this shot, you can only see two of the work stations, but at one point we had 4 different computers and 3 different scanners/printers running all night long to get all the families' packets ready for the government.  

That's Brent's brother Brian who helped get the last packets ready. My brother, Brian (ironic, but...) also assisted as did both of our mothers and Tia and Allicen.

On the walls you can see some pictures that the little neighbor girls drew for me that I posted to keep me going.  One of them has a rainbow and Brent and me, and Jessica and Nathan standing under the rainbow.  Next to us it says, "I hope you fined Jessica".  I loved the way she spelled that.
Another one says, "To the Rosenlost" and I thought that was probably the most appropriate spelling of our last name EVER given what we were going through at the time.
 I have no idea how many reams of  paper and MULTIPLE, MULTIPLE ink cartridges we went through trying to print all the paperwork out for everyone.  It was ridiculous. 

And did I mention we got to do all that paperwork TWICE because Haiti wanted one set of things and the US Government wanted entirely different things and different documents and different images.

Good times, good times.

The best news, though, was that all the work paid off.  Before we went to Miami, Florida's Health and Human Services Department's Department of Refugee Resettlement had a conference call for the families and they let us know that we could expect that our children would be in a children's shelter for "2-3 days" while our paperwork was processed.  The woman on the call let us know that we'd have visiting hours with our children from 10 AM to 5 PM and then we'd need to leave them at the shelter each night while they processed our paperwork.  She also assured us that the shelter has "lovely grounds that we would be able to explore with our children" while they were in State Custody as the families' paperwork was processed. 

This is where Will Smith (who, according to my sister, is going to play me in the movie about this ordeal) has the line, "You're putting our kids in a SHELTER??  Aw HELL No!"

So we worked through the night, for a couple of nights and we got all the paperwork to the Customs and Border Protection people and then again to the HHS/ORR people BEFORE the families hit the ground in Miami.

Some of our families literally just had to sign papers and they could take their children and go.  We did the legwork beforehand and therefore, the children didn't have to spend unnecessary time in the shelter.  They arrived, and they left.

We honestly got everyone processed in a less than a day and they were on their way to their HOMES.

There was another amazing story about the work we did with the paperwork.  For the packets Chareyl had us put together for Haiti, we included pictures of each child and then pictures of the child with the parents (because the families had all been down to visit).  When she FINALLY was able to get the Haitian Embassy to take our files, they looked over everything that had been compiled, they were thrilled.  We had everything documented.  Then they turn to Chareyl and said, "You don't HAPPEN to have small photos of the children, do you, because if you do, we can skip a step and just process these packets as they are without you bringing the children down to the Embassy for their photos to be taken."

Lindsay HAPPENED to have wallet-sized pictures of all the Foyer kids on her.  She'd done a little Christmas gift for the Foyer families and at the last minute she threw the extra photos in the bag she brought to Haiti.

Chareyl did not, but she said, "Look - these are all COLOR photos on these papers we've compiled."  They gave her a pair of scissors and let her CUT out pictures of the children from the paperwork we sent down and they were able to use those for nearly every child.

That's just one of the many, many crazy government stories that was followed by a miracle in this mess.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What's in A Name

There is a reason Nathan is named after Nate.  Not only is he Brent's best friend, but he and Al take care of us in so many ways.

Last night, Mr. Nathan slept the whole night in his very own bed.  YEAH!

He also peed like a race horse.  The diaper gave up the ghost and drowned.  Thank heavens Aunt Al had the foresight to put plastic sheets on his bed when she got everything ready for Mr. Nathan while Mama was running Haiti Ground Control.

Yesterday, we took Mr. Nathan to the doctor for his very first appointment.  He was poked and prodded and forced against his will to give a blood sample.  The poor kid could barely bleed enough for the vial to be happy.  Insult to injury, I'd say.  He can't even bleed well!

Mama and Papa got some work done on their computers and then Papa went to lay down.  When he woke up a few hours later, he was running a 102 fever, coughing and puking and could barely stand up.  

This isn't one of those situations where I can just have a neighbor take the kids while I run him to the hospital.  Not because I don't love my neighbors - I do!  They've been wonderful.  But Nathan isn't ready to be left alone with strangers for ANY reason.

Call in the backup forces and Nate took Papa to the ER for me.  They found he has fluid in his lungs on top of the infection and swelling... and DIRT.  So they ran a bunch of stuff through him and got him treated up right and Uncle Nate brought him back home.  Aunt Al stayed and kept Mama company while she did some paperwork and worried about Papa.

It's like that song... "winter, spring, summer or fall all you've got to do is call...."

Nate and Al take care of us. They're good people.  They help us to be better people.  They're some of our heros.

And THAT is why Mr. Nathan is named after his Uncle Nate.

Monday, February 8, 2010

EXCELLENT Letter from JCICS about the Children in Need

thank you, Tom, for this wonderful article.

A Statement of the Joint Council on International Children’s Services on Changes to U.S. Policy for Children Without Parental Care

Since the earthquake on January 12, hundreds of millions of dollars have been raised by UNICEF, Save The Children, World Vision and others dedicated to helping Haitian children.
According to Google News, in a recent seven-day period, there were over 11,000 news articles on Haitian orphans.

One adoption service provider alone received over 5,000 inquiries – all with an interest in adopting a Haitian child.

Members of Congress are now searching for a legislative response to the crisis facing Haitian children and the demand by voters that something be done.

Donations, awareness, concern and a response from the U.S. government are all part of what President Obama described in a recent Times Magazine article as “What we do.”   “In a time of tragedy, the United States steps forward and helps.  That is who we are” the President said.  The overwhelming response to the incomprehensible tragedy facing Haitian children has indeed shown once again who we are.  The President is right in saying “It is what we do”.  But it also casts a clear light on what we could have done in the years preceding the quake and what we can do for the future.

In the years prior to January 12, tens of millions of dollars were donated to organizations helping Haitian children.  The U.N. had appointed former President Clinton as its Special Envoy.  UNICEF, and thousands of other non-profits had already established their presence (prior to the quake, Haiti had more non-profits per person than any country in the world).  Yet when the quake hit, not one of the leading non-profits, not one governmental agency, not one child protection organization had a comprehensive list of the orphanages (or their location) or the names of the children.  How does one serve children if you do not know where they are?  How does one protect children if you do not know who they are?  When the quake hit, not one non-profit, court or government knew who had custody of each child.  Was it their family, the orphanage, the crèche, the street or in the case of a Restavek, their owner?  We did not know who they were, where they were, or who was responsible for them.  And that was before the quake.

Before the quake and even more so now, we don’t know which children are orphans.  In fact, we don’t even know what an orphan is.  UNICEF uses a definition that is different from the one used by governments for immigration purposes which is again different from what is commonly understood by the average person.   Immigration definitions are usually so complex as to be meaningless in identifying children in need.  UNICEF says that an orphan is a child who has lost one or both parents through death.  Other than inflate an already tragic number, how does that definition help children truly in need of permanent parental care? Children do not need a definition that labels them solely for reasons of immigration.  Nor a label that raises awareness (and funding) yet often misleads the public.  And children do not need a definition that stigmatizes them within their local or national community.   What is needed?  A definition that instead of categorizing them, defines them as what they are – children – children who need our help – children who need permanent and safe parental care.
Prior to January 12, only a handful of organizations in Haiti had programs, which directly served to preserve existing families or find a family for children living outside of parental care. There were few services to reunite children separated from their parents or to promote adoption. Highlighting the lack of services is the amount USAID’s Office of Orphans and Vulnerable children spent in Haiti: zero dollars.  In short, there was no leadership in assuring that children lived, grew and flourished in a permanent and safe family.  There is no leadership on this most basic of children’s rights because for the U.S. government, the Haitian government and leading non-governmental organizations, a safe and permanent family for every child is simply not a goal.  Not something worthy.  It is, as has been stated by those responsible for child protection, “Not what we do.”
Is a lack of a U.S. policy and U.S. leadership on ensuring that children live, grow and flourish in a permanent family what President Obama meant by “It is who we are? ”  Is an uncoordinated response to the crisis facing children what he meant by “It is what we do? ”  If not, then we should be doing some things differently.
Again, the tragedy facing the children of Haiti sheds a clear light on what we can, should and could have done.  Not just for the children of Haiti but also for the 30 abandoned infants lying in Mother Theresa’s Rwandan orphanage.  For the 18 children with hydrocephalus slowing dying in an orphanage in Kyrgyzstan.  For the millions who live without their family of birth.  For these and all children, the U.S. needs a clear, understandable and unwavering policy that states: children do not belong in orphanages, in temporary care or in ‘family-like’ settings – they belong in a safe and permanent family.   The U.S. government needs to lead, not play a secondary or supporting role to UNICEF as it is reportedly doing in Haiti.  As President Obama has said, leadership on issues of human suffering shows the character of our country.  At present, our character on the right to a family for every child is apparently very weak.  Yet on HIV/AIDS, human trafficking and religious freedom, the U.S. has demonstrated great character.  On these issues, the U.S. government has established clear policies, strong diplomatic initiatives, effective programs and leadership through dedicated government officials and partnerships, all to great effect.  As a result, fewer people have HIV/AIDS, more are free from sexual abuse and more are free to worship as they desire.  The U.S. can and should do the same for children.

The Families For Orphans Coalition, of which Joint Council is a founding member, supports such U.S. leadership, diplomacy and programs for children.   We do so through the Families For Orphans Act.  This legislation would establish the right of every child to live in a safe and permanent family as the policy of the United States.  And it creates the diplomatic authority, the programs and the partnerships with other governments that are needed to make the policy a reality.  Unlike the current policies favored by those with entrenched financial, turf or philosophical interests, the Families For Orphans Act would not support programs which call family-like settings, group homes (which by any other name would be described as a small orphanage) or community care as an acceptable permanent solution.  The end game, the goal, should and must be a safe and permanent family.

Temporary alternative care, while not the goal, does serve children in need.  The U.S. government and non-profit community provide many alternative care programs led by caring professionals and volunteers which strive to move children off the street and out of institutions.  The scope and depth of children’s needs simply cannot be met without such interim steps.  For these reasons and many others, the Families For Orphans Act would not prevent programs designed to provide temporary care nor would it eliminate or reduce the funding needed for these valued services.  The Act recognizes that a family-like setting is better than an institution – but not better than a safe and permanent family.

The Act also helps children by stating that an orphan is not a child living with one parent.  It says an orphan is a child who is permanently living without parents – for whatever reason.  And perhaps most importantly, it states that we must preserve existing families so that fewer children are orphaned in the first place.  For those who are orphaned, it identifies them, tells us where they are and what services they need – all in intimate partnerships with other governments. Without these critically important priorities, the worldwide orphan crisis will only continue to impose its suffering on the children of our world

Knowing which children need our help, knowing who and where they are, providing services to preserve and create families, creating effective partnerships and establishing U.S. policy and leadership on a child’s right to a mom and dad – imagine that.

For those who say that nothing needs to be done, that the system is working, we offer you this.  Rene is a young man living in a Haitian orphanage with 91 other children.  After receiving life-saving surgery in the U.S. he returned to Haiti.  The orphanage staff, being supervised on a daily basis by a young man and woman both under 20 years of age, did not know how to treat his wound or recognize life-threatening symptoms.  As a result, Rene’s incision became infected.  After borrowing a pair of shoes from another child, Rene was taken to the local hospital, had his incision cleaned and returned once again to the orphanage.  Rene is not an orphan by UNICEF definition because he has living parents.  Parents who understandably could not care for him yet have not even visited him in years.  Given Rene’s physical condition and lack of daily care, there is a likelihood that he may die.  Shouldn’t we help Rene’s family so that he can live with them?  And if that isn’t possible, shouldn’t we find Rene a family so that he can flourish?  And if Rene should pass, shouldn’t he be able to do so in the loving embrace of a mother and father?

Nothing needs to change some are saying.  I wonder if Rene would agree.
Tom DiFilipo

Is It a Bad Sign When the Doctor Asks if You're Coughing Blood YET?

Brent has pneumonia.  And the doc says that he THINKS the specks that are all over on his lungs in his x-rays are bits of dirt and crud that he inhaled during a big wind storm while sleeping outside in Haiti.

But they've got him on big drugs and a nebulizer thingy that he breathes in meds with a few times per day.  

I think he somehow thinks it's cool that they can see Haiti dirt in his lung shots.  But then boys think that scars are cool, so....

Please Check Out These Posts Over On Team Hope's Blog

I promise, they're worth the extra click:


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Update from the Homefront

Chareyl's been working feverishly to get more kids out from our original group.  9 more arrived in Miami this evening.  Chareyl's the stuff saints are made from.  

As the list dwindles, my Jess's name stays on the list.  People have given us SO MUCH hassle - saying that, "if she has a birth father, she's not an orphan."

People... people... one more time from the top.  Exactly how many of the babies put up for adoption in the United States have dead birth parents???  "Orphan" means they have no one to provide for them - whether that's through death or relinquishment of rights or termination of rights.  And as for "why we're still thinking of her if her birth father has her", the answer to that would be, "He changed his mind before - he could do it again."  

In other news:
  • Dad's still trying to cough up a lung - check.
  • Mom's got pink eye - check.
  • Mom has a fever... still... - check.
  • Mom's got sinus/ear infection - check.
  • Mom upgrades to puking - check.
  • Even with all that, Mom still gets to call herself "Mom" - check.

And that last one, my friends, is AWE-SOME.

How can you be down when you realize that you have THIS in your life - FOREVER:

Papa bought him some cowboy boots.  They have camo on them.  They rule.  He's so beautiful.  That last picture is his audition for Oliver : "Please, sir, I'd like some more"

Brent and I have high hopes that sometime in the next year or two, hissy fits will become an Olympic sport.  If that comes through for us, I'm fairly certain Nathan will be the team captain.  The good thing about that sport is that it's really pretty versatile.  He can do it indoors or outdoors.  Temperatures don't matter at all.  AND he can throw a fit in more than one language!  Top that, Olson Twins!  (how old am I that they are who I thought of first when I thought of fit throwing babies??)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Team Hope Blog

Seriously, my life is crazy.

Sometimes I think Brent and I should change our names to something more soap opera-y like..."Rolando"....and "Patrice".  Then all we need is an evil twin returning from the dead and someone to get amnesia and I think we're GOLD.  

Who needs a team of writers when you just have my life??

Like, honestly... one of the funniest moments of the last few weeks - I had several of the parents who had come into Utah because this was before the CBP in Miami went all FREAKAZIOD on us and announced that they were in charge.  Every government agency from ALL LEVELS that we'd talked to was totally on board with getting these kids to Utah.... but goodness, this isn't about all the government craziness.  I'm telling you the funny story.  And I will now put it in italics:

So there I am, working at my desk in my office that became known as "Ground Control".  One of the families brought their daughter as this daughter and the daughter they were adopting from Haiti are the only children in that family, so obviously it's a big deal for little Miss A to meet her "sissy".  

Miss A is playing under my desk with my dogs (who she just loves by the way) and they're just quietly doing their thing.  Meanwhile, I'm on phone call after phone call with different government agencies.

Miss A figures out that this one particular toy is Divot's favorite.  We call it "SqueekyBallWithLegs".  Divot might possibly have a bit of OCD where SqueekyBallWithLegs is concerned.  I can hear her under the desk trying to tempt the dogs with such awesome phrases as "Come get the juicy ball"  or "Here's your juice toy...come get it" and I'm laughing to myself at why "juicy" came into play with this rubber dog toy.  It's just Miss A's word of the day, I guess. 

Time passes, I'm still on calls with govt agencies and Miss A and the dogs are getting a bit more excited in their play.

Let's just say right about the time I can hear Miss A repeatedly yelling, "Come get the juicy toy out of my pants" (cause she'd tucked the ball into the back of her leggings) I start to wonder if the government people can hear whats going on behind me and if this might possibly have a negative impact on my ability to get custody of children.  

BUT SERIOUSLY... how funny is that???

Honestly people... I don't make this stuff up.  My life is where Haitian orphans and juicy balls collide.

Anyway, to try to consolidate the adventure of the last few weeks, we've put up another blog for Team Hope.  It's at

We're gathering stories and articles and interviews from all the families involved and we're posting them together.  

The topmost entry is called "Love Notes for Team Hope".  If you'd like to share your thoughts as you've watched this drama unfold, please leave us a note there. 

If you have an idea for something that should be added, you're welcome to contact us at hopeforlittleangelsofhaiti at gmail dot com.  Just put "Team Hope" in the subject line so we'll know it's about the Team Hope blog.

Who knows... maybe we'll it and make a book.  And we'll include the love notes so that these children can see exactly how many people prayed them home.

The best non-soap opera-y part of my life?  That every day now, when I wake up... I'm still a mom.  And he's still snuggled in right beside me in bed.  And if I roll too far away, even in his sleep he'll reach out his hand to make sure he can find me.  

Someone else will have to get amnesia because this is stuff I don't want to forget!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I Had Dreams of the Kids Playing on These Stairs....

.....And I'm happy to report that Nathan LOVES these stairs

Great Article about Fabrice in the DesNews

Although these pictures from the DesNews article say it all:

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fabrice Update

For those of you following along at home, in today's episode Fabrice was able to get on a plane yesterday and was reunited with his forever family.  They're on a plane right now on their way home to Utah.

This is a photo of Lt. Col. Draper who worked with Chareyl and made sure Fabrice got on the plane as soon as he was approved.

God bless our service men and women and their love and stewardship over "everyone littler than them"!

Miracle after miracle continues to occur for these children.  We still have 15 more to get out from our original group and you can be sure that Chareyl won't give up until they're all home.


Did you know the word "companionship" comes from the Latin words that mean "with" and "bread"?  Your companions, the people to whom you are closest, are those you break bread with.  I think it's no accident that dates usually include a meal.  Meeting someone's need for food is a very intimate and emotional connection.

Now, a bit of insight into Nathan's former world. 

Living in an orphanage with 68 kids, "aunties" (which is what they call the nannies) that change shifts a few times a day and have a high turnover rate because everything in Haiti is in flux and has been since before I can remember.  He comes from an environment where there isn't enough attention or food and you have to scream the loudest and eat the fastest to make sure you get what you need.

The experts have advised us to make sure we're the only ones that hold him or feed him for the next 2 weeks at least.  He needs CONSISTENCY.  He needs time to adjust to the fact that not "everyone bigger than him" is his "companion".  He has a Mama and a Papa and they have people they know and that they know are safe.  He needs time to adapt to this world, where not anyone that's bigger than you is a potential caregiver.

We've told our immediate family that they are welcome to come over and visit.  They are the people that are HIS family as well, and he can see that it's OK to be with those people.  We have asked neighbors and other friends that we've asked to give us a couple of week for him to adjust before they descend.  He has no idea that SO MANY people already know and love him.  And trust me - he's AWESOME.  We can't wait for you to meet him.

We just ask you give him a couple of weeks to figure out that THIS house and THESE adults don't change.  THIS is it for him now. 

In the meantime, I'll try to keep posting pictures and keeping you updated and informed of all the adorable things he does. 

He's still fairly frustrated that we don't speak the same language, but we're figuring it out. 

Thank you for loving him.  Thank you for praying him home.  Thank you for caring about the drama and the miracles that got him to this point. 

We love you and thank you for your support.

Brent, Lori and Nathan

From One Little Boy to Another....

Our dear friend (he's practically a nephew), Harper, pulled together some of HIS favorite toys to send down to Nathan.  He heard that Nathan loved trucks and cars, so he went through his own toys and picked his favorites and put them in his "Cars" backpack.  This little backpack was packed with love from one little boy to another.

I just wanted to post some pictures so Harper could see how happy his toys made Nathan.  He squealed like I've never heard him squeal as Uncle Nate and Aunt Al pulled the toys out of the bag.  Right now, as I type this, he's playing on the floor next to me with the "machins" (cars) from the bag. 

And you can see, he LOVES the dogs now.  That was a lot less painful than we thought it would be for him.