The Family

The Family
Justice, Logan, Jacy Klaire, Joy, Josie Kate, Luke, Megan, Judah, Kerry, Jaxon

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What is an Orphanage?

It's been a while...over a month...since our last post.  It has been quite a month and lots of things have taken place and I apologize for not keeping people updated.  Here is an update of what's happening in our little piece of Caribbean paradise. (I unashamedly embedded my kids pictures in the text without any obvious reason except for the fact that I am an excessively proud daddy...)

Jacy Klaire on her 9th Birthday

When we first moved here I was naively under the false impression that an orphanage is where orphans live.  I am not sure how I came to that crazy conclusion.  Possibly the NAME of the place!  But in Haiti, sad to say, an orphanage is NOT typically filled with orphans.  It turns out that the much more common definition of orphanage is a great way for self serving Haitians and other foreign nationals to earn a very good living exploiting children whose parents are very alive but are happy to let someone else raise their children and use them as a fund raising tool through the internet and even in person.

Jaxon in a rare calm moment
A typical orphanage in Haiti is when someone, usually a "pastor", decides to take in a bunch of local kids to live at least part time- when the white people come to town- in a facility that they have that looks really sad and really needs someone to come along and just help those poor, dirty, naked, malnourished, little orphans that this loving but under funded pastor has graciously taken in.  It's all a scam.  A very devious, evil, manipulative scam.  I don't want to sound jaded...even though I am...because jaded is not one of the fruits of the spirit listed in the Bible.  However, it is a total reality for us because DAILY I have people that try to give us children to raise for them so that they won't have to and they have been programmed to think that way because of so many corrupt child exploiters that have built a horrible system here over the last 50 years.  And of course, who are the victims?  The duped white people that come and give their money to a con man?  No way!  The victims, as always, are the kids.  They are abused, kept "pitiful" looking, and even worse, taught how the 'system' works.  Most girls raised in these homes are raped by age 13.  Many of the kids get sick from preventable diseases and very few ever go to school.  They are the oppressed poor that do not have a voice of their own.  And now, we are in the middle of this whole deal because we have a facility to minister to kids too.  So what are we doing about it?
Sissy Joe in her Luau outfit for Jacy's Birthday
First of all, we have investigated the situation extensively.  We discoverered that hundreds of thousands of dollars flow through these homes every year and end up in the hands of crooks and not as food in the bellies of starving children.  So we decided to form a special kind of home called a creche.  A creche is a home specifically for children that are available for adoption.  At first, I arrogantly said we would take in NOTHING but orphans.  No kids who had parents at all.  Any parent that brought us kids to take, I would proudly explain to them how God had given them that child and that I would help them raise the child but I would not take the child into our home.  Then we had one of those children get kidnapped.  Then another one died.  So that caused me to reevaluate my stance.  Then there was Justice.  She had a mother that abandoned her and a 65 year old alcoholic father.  Now she is ours.  Even more at home was the fact that our very own adopted children, Judah, Josie, and Jaxon all have parents but they were taken from them due to an inability of the parent to provide for the children.  So we got wise counsel from licensing board here in Haiti along with others and redefined what type of children we would take into our home through the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
Judah is not having a 'happy' day
Through that process God has blessed Celebration Children's Home so much.  We now have 16 children living at the home.  Many are true orphans.  Others were abandoned.  Still others like 2 little 2 year old girls we have recently taken in, are from mothers that have experienced one type of tragedy or another and now simply cannot or will not take care of the children.  BUT, in order for us to take the child, the parents have to go with us to the government office and sign over all rights to us and acknowledge that the children are eligible for adoption.  That eliminates many people who come and want us to simply raise their kids for them.  The kids we take have officially been given away by any family that is existing.  It is a heart breaking scene every time.  More so for us than the family usually.  I take a child into my arms that have often NEVER had a man hold them.  Many have never even had a mother show them genuine affection.  After just a couple of days you can begin to see sunshine replace the cloudy shadow that seemed to penetrate so deeply into the neglected children.  We love it and count it an honor and blessing to be able to be the rescuer on Jesus' behalf for these babies and children.

Luke is an amazing teenage missionary.  He has taught me so much.

Our plan is to be able to get these children adopted without charging orphanage fees.  Other creches in Haiti if they have legitimately adoptable children they often charge at least $12,000 - 15,000 USD for orphanage fees per child being adopted.  Our plan is to allow donors to continue to pay to keep the Mission running and adoptive parents pay the legal fees and government fees for the adoption but nothing directly to us.  We are in the process of Justice being adopted and are working with another missionary that is working on adopting 4 children and that will give us more exact understanding of the whole process.  In the mean time, we are enjoying investing in the little ones we have.  We also support a couple of different orphanages from St. Marc to Montrouis that are not legit but the kids need food, and clothes, and school.  And we get to try to change the system one step at a time.  We constantly get calls from groups that came to Haiti and gave thousands of dollars to an orphanage here only to find out later it was a shell and now the people are disenfranchised and disappointed.  But that is why we are here.  To be light in darkness.  To be a voice for the abused, helpless, weak, and oppressed.  We don't get angry- too often-or frustrated- excessively, instead, we become more and more determined.  We pray for more diligence.  More patience.  More wisdom.  More insight.  And more opportunity to see people set free from the bondage of deciet and manipulation.

We have had some amazing teams come down to help us lately.  I can't tell you how encouraged we have been.  God is really covering us with blessing.  We are planning to go to the Dominican Republic next week in our bus with the family and our leadership staff.  We want to check out possible places to get some boats for our fishing ministry as well as other supplies.  We are also going to do a leadership retreat and let my family have a couple of days of refreshment.  I will let you know how that goes.  Joy could use it and so could her husband.