Elliana and Jayne–Miracle #2

So, about 3:30, we head out to the airport. On the way out there, my cell phone rings (a very common occurence.) But this time it’s my better half calling from Miami. “I’m worried about Elliana.” “What do you mean?” (She’s a nurse, I was a banker, so just saying, “I’m worried” doesn’t work.)

We talk a bit more and work out a plan. I get to the airport and I see Elliana’s aunt. I go and talk to her and relay what Cheryl said and her concerns about Elliana’s health. She calls Elliana’s pediatrician and then finds me again.

“Tom, here’s what the doctor said. There are four main things to look for. If she has two of the four, I’ll see you at my office tomorrow morning at 10. If she has 3 out of the four, go directly to the hospital, don’t pass go, don’t go home first.” So, Aunt Joy and I work out a plan. When Jayne and Elli come off the plane, I’ll work my way around “behind” her so that she can’t see me. Aunt Joy will go in, give her a hug and will do a quick assessment of how Elli’s doing. She will then, behind Jayne’s back, give me a thumbs up or thumbs down. If it’s a thumbs up, nothing more will be said. If it’s a thumbs down, I’ll come in, hug Jayne and tell her the story.

From the minute that they got off the plane, it was obvious that it was going to be a “thumbs down” situation. So, when Aunt Joy gave me the official thumbs down, I came in, gave Jayne (mom) a hug and told her the story (starting from the phone call from Cheryl.)

Her response, “If your wife says that, then we better go to the hospital and we better do it now.” So we gathered for a group prayer and sent a new mom and her daughter, home in Grand Rapids for 15 minutes, off to the hospital. This was a Friday night and she didn’t get home until Wednesday. The doctors told Mom later that if she had waited until Monday to bring Elli to the doctor, the results might have been significantly different (I think you know what that means!)

So, in spite of all of the joy and the emotions over long awaited children coming home, here was a mom making the trip from the airport to the hospital. Knowing her daughter was sick but not knowing how sick. She’d only had her daughter with her for less than 12 hours and she had to take her to the hospital.

But God was gracious and the people at the hospital took very good care of her. 4 years later, she is a bouncy, bubbly and absolutely beautiful little girl full of character, charm and intelligence.

Oh and did I mention she gives her Mom a run for her money when it comes to the quantity of words expended every day? 🙂 Love to both of you!

A Miracle Sat On My Lap Tonight…….

I originally wrote this the evening after one of our semi annual Haitian Adoption Gatherings after the earthquake…….

I can’t say this very often, but I can definitely say it tonight.  “A Miracle Sat On My Lap.”

Let me tell the story.  There was a little baby girl born in Haiti about 9 months ago.  On January 12, 2010 she was living at God’s Littlest Angels Orphanage when the earthquake struck.

And people prayed for the children.

Shortly after that she got sick.  Quite sick.

And people prayed for the children.

The following Tuesday, my wife got down to GLA and immediately began helping take care of the kids.  At the same time, Dixie, Laurie, Stephanie, Melanie, well everyone there was working on the paperwork to try to get the kids home.  And people prayed.

Jump forward to Thursday of that week, and the entire GLA staff is getting the American kids ready to go to the airport.  And this little girl is really not doing very well.  Dixie tells Cheryl and Laurie that they need to take her down to a hospital in Port Au Prince to be seen by an American Doctor to make sure she can handle the trip to Miami.  As in, make sure she doesn’t die on the plane.

Now jump to midnight on Thursday.  The plane lands in Miami – the first people off the plane are my wife and this little girl.  The Miami airport has an ambulance waiting for them to take them to the Miami Children’s Hospital.  I talk to my wife at 6:30 Friday morning – “The parents need to get here, she’s not doing well.”  The medical personnel at Miami Children’s believe she has bacterial meningitis.

Friday night, this little girl ends up having brain surgery.  And there were still people praying.

On Monday, her parents told her that there was a 99% chance that she would end up in a persistent vegetative state and need to be institutionalized.  But people kept praying.

Like I said before, a miracle sat on my lap tonight.

I’d like to introduce you to RoseLaure Horne.  She’s 9 months old, crawls, can see, can hear, is learning to walk.  Her mother said that they took her for testing to see if she needed any sort of therapy.  She doesn’t.  She’s completely on target developmentally for her age.

Did I mention that there have been people praying?  A miracle sat on my lap tonight and made all of the work, the time, the effort worthwhile…….

Roselaure––The Rest of the Story

Thursday night (around midnight), they arrive in Miami. Cheryl and Roselaure are the first ones off the plane and there is an ambulance waiting to take them to Miami Children’s Hospital with lights and sirens going.

She made it but she’s a very sick little girl.

Friday morning, my alarm goes off at 6:00. My phone rings at 6:05. It’s Cheryl, she’s in tears, hasn’t slept for 24 hours and is very worried about RoseLaure. She is also having a hard time getting in touch with RoseLaure’s parents (who are at Miami International Airport with the rest of the parents waiting for RoseLaure’s brother.) So, I called Johnny Carr from Bethany – who flew from Pennsacola to Miami just to be there “in case anyone needed help.” He found the parents and brought one of them (I believe Mom) to the hospital.

Friday night the surgeons did emergency brain surgery on RoseLaure and she was in critical condition. The initial estimate was that it was a relatively rare strain of bacterial meningitis.

On Monday, the doctors told her parents, “You might as well go back home to Indiana. There is a 99% chance that RoseLaure is going to be in a persistent vegetative state for the rest of her life.”


So, they took Stevenson (her brother) and went home. But they kept coming back and praying and hoping.

And healing began and 8 months later, we had a Haitian Adoption Reunion and RoseLaure sat on my lap. (More on that next time)

And she was fine. 100% on target for all of her developmental standards.

God is good, all of the time and God used a fast ride down the mountain and the care of many to give this little miracle a chance at a good life.

Life, Death and a Drive Down the Mountain

So, shortly after Cheryl and I talked on Thursday morning, Dixie told her, “Cheryl, RoseLaure is really sick. I want you and Holly (another nurse) to take her down to the American doctors at General Hospital. I want to make sure she can survive a plane flight. Laurie will drive and Junior will ride shotgun.” In other words, I want to make sure she doesn’t die over international waters.

Normally, the drive from GLA down into Port Au Prince would take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours depending on the traffic (and in this case depending on which roads were blocked because buildings fell on them.) The drive took 31 minutes.

When they would need to merge into traffic, Junior would jump out of the car and bang on other cars until they let them in. Oh and the fact that Junior is big, tall and carries a gun didn’t hurt their willingness to let our team in. He’d then climb back in the car and they’d take off.

They got to the hospital and, well let’s just say that Cheryl won’t tell me details of what they saw at the hospital other than that it was a truly tragic situation. The doctors saw RoseLaure, said that they think she can make it, but they also put things in motion for an ambulance to meet them at the Miami airport so that she could get to a US hospital as soon as possible.

Back in the car they went and dashing off to the airport to meet the rest of the kids. RoseLaure has a chance.

(Stay tuned)……

Anniversaries of a Sort– Miss E. and Sonia

While last week was an important week for Haiti and for those who care about Haiti (the 12th of January was four years since the quake), I want to share with you two special anniversaries that occurred this week.    One of them is a 4 year anniversary and the other one is a 3 year anniversary.

At 3:00 PM today, Eastern Time, I was finally able to track down one of our adoptive Moms.   This was a Wednesday afternoon and we had just gotten word that all of the US adoptive parents needed to be in Miami.   Not some time, not in 4 days, but in 24 hours!

I got in touch with Jayne while she was in Toy’s R Us attempting to get the stuff she was going to need IF her little girl could come home sooner.

Let’s just say that when I got on the phone with Jayne, I think the entire store heard our conversation.   She started screaming, crying, jumping up and down and just sort of, well, let’s just say it’s one of the most deeply moving and incredibly joy filled phone calls I’ve ever made.   I consider it an honor to have been the one to tell her to get on a plane.

Wednesday, I’m going to post a LOT of pictures from the 4 year anniversary of that homecoming.

The second anniversary actually happened yesterday.   3 years ago yesterday, I got a message from Dixie.  It went something like this,  “Tom, I have a project I want you to work on – we have a 4 month old who is going to die if we don’t get her out of Haiti and get her heart surgery.”

Gulp.  I had been on the job full time for less than 3 weeks and suddenly this little girl’s life was in my hands!  The first thing I did was call my good friend Rebekah – she’s done a number of medical visas before and said, “I need you to help  – I’ve never done this before!

We walked through it and began figuring out what it would take.   To say she was a big help is an understatement.

I’m going to quote Lisa on the next part –

“3 years ago today, January 19, I received this email that changed our lives forever, “We’ve got an urgent situation with Sonia, a 4 month old who has been at GLA since she was 6 days old. The short story is that our pediatrician said she needs to get out of Haiti for medical treatment or she will probably not survive.”

I still remember getting an e-mail from this lady by the name of Lisa who was so insistent on helping Sonia.   We talked, we e-mailed, we researched, she talked to hospitals, she talked to the senior pastor at her church, I talked to her senior pastor, we both talked to hospitals.   Lab reports were translated and scanned, X-rays were taken and sent.

And throughout it all, countless people were praying for Sonia.

And little by little, the details started falling into place.

And then Lisa (and Al)’s senior pastor talked to a friend of his.   Oh and that friend happened to be on the board at Miami Children’s Hospital.

God opened doors and a travel date was set for her to come to Miami on a Monday with surgery tentatively scheduled for later in the week.

The Saturday before that, I got a message from one of our nursing staff – “Tom, Sonia has a fever.”

Uh oh.   But they decided to send her anyway – and it’s a good thing.   She ended up spending 21 days in the hospital for a bone infection.

It’s an infection that would have killed her in Haiti.

Long story short, she had the surgery, it went well and she returned to GLA.   Her host family became her adoptive family and she will soon be coming home permanently.

Oh and the icing on the cake?   Since then, her adoptive parents have moved back to Michigan and I’m going to be able to meet them at the airport when they come home.

Here’s a picture of Sonia from when she first got sick and then one from earlier this month.

God is good.  Life is not easy, nothing is easy, but God is good.

And I’m blessed to play a small role in making a difference for these kids.


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