Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Chrisno's Story: The Journey from Haiti to his Forever Family - Part 1
I had the opportunity to work with this remarkable adoptive family who opened their hearts and their home to a special little boy from Haiti with significant medical needs. Adoptive parents, William and Darlene, are the proud parents of four boys and I asked them to share how God showed them that adoption was His plan for their family.
Our family's adoption story began when I was watching a Saturday morning news show and heard Vanessa Carpenter from Angel Missions Haiti (AMH) asking for someone to host a baby from Haiti for 3 to 4 months while he came to the United States for life saving surgery. Hosting meant taking a baby into your home and caring for the baby as if it is your own child - supplying clothes, food, diapers, and taking the baby to all medical appointments. All medical care would provided by the charitable acts of a variety of different medical facilities and physicians. The more I thought about it, I thought my husband and I could do this. I thought it was a way we could teach our three children a life lesson of helping others and a way for us, as a family, to do the Lord's work.
I called AMH to find out how to apply and discovered that the child's name was Chrisno Jeudi, he was about 20 months old and he had hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain). The fluid on the brain was causing pressure resulting in headaches and constant pain. Chrisno could only lie on his back with cushions under him to try to make him comfortable. He was in need of surgery to have a shunt inserted to slowly drain the fluid off his brain. Without the procedure, the fluid would build up and he would die.
After a series of unexpected delays, Chrisno arrived to the United States in September of 2008. The first time I held him I was so afraid, he was difficult to hold due to the size of his head and I couldn’t cuddle him. Chrisno’s head circumference was almost 30 inches and weighed about 22 pounds and his total body weight was only 27 pounds. Vanessa had sent me a picture and I knew his head was big but I never could have imagined that it was so big or so heavy. I soon realized that this was going to be along three months and prayed for God to give me the strength to be the best caregiver I could possibly be.
He had his second birthday with us and, at 2 years old, he was unable to hold his own bottle. He had developmental delays and he could not roll over, sit upright or crawl due to the size of his head. His vision also had been affected leaving him visually impaired. We started working with him and before long he was holding his bottle. We could tell after surgery he was feeling much better and he started smiling at us and the boys would make him laugh. I finally found a song that he liked that seemed to calm him. It was “I love you, you love me” the Barney song, at least he laughed when I sang it, I don’t know if he liked my singing or he thought it was funny! I started feeling a bond with him and I wanted to protect him and keep him safe.
My heart went out to Chrisno's Mom and Dad, knowing that they had to send their baby to another country to save his life. They couldn’t go with him, be there to hold his little hand and comfort him. The impact of what we were actually doing started to hit me; God had chosen us to do his work. The boys also helped, each in his own way and showed him so much attention and compassion. The boys would play with Chrisno and make him laugh. Everyone loves to hear Chrisno laugh and it is so contagious. Chrisno loves music and we are a musical family. The 3 months seemed to fly by and Chrisno spent Christmas with us. We had worked with Chrisno and he started holding his own bottle at night and using a sippy cup during the day. We had started feeding him real food and we taught him to feed himself. We saw huge improvements in his physical and mental development and I was able to help develop a brace to support his head so he could sit in a high chair and stand in a walker.
He went back home to Haiti in January of 2009 and we were happy and sad at the same time. We were going to miss Chrisno but we were so happy and excited for Chrisno’s parents to see all his accomplishments.
Check back to read Part 2 to hear how Chrisno returned to become a part of this family...forever.