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My 4-Year-Old Son Is Trapped in Haiti

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Sarah is in the process of adopting a son from Haiti. He is safe, but his whole world -- and hers -- has been thrown into chaos.

My 4-Year-Old Son is Trapped in Haiti

Sarah: When I heard about the earthquake, it almost felt unreal. It still does.

My son is there. He's 4 years old.

I have adopted two children from Haiti, and am currently hosting a baby ("Bear") from there. He has been with us over a year while he gets surgeries for spina bifida. My daughter, Angeline, also from Haiti, also has spina bifida. My son Isaac, due to years and years of glitches in paperwork, is still in Haiti. My heart breaks knowing he's there, and I can't get to him, especially in this devastation. I have heard from his orphanage that he is okay, thank God, but my heart breaks for him. I just want to go get him NOW.

Haiti is a country that is near and dear to my heart. I help run an organization that helps kids from third-world countries get medical care, and a lot of those kids we have helped are from Haiti. There are so many babies who have come over to stay with us for medical procedures ... so many of them are from Port-au-Prince. We just don't know how they are now. The cell tower is down, so we don't know how we will get in touch with anyone ... maybe even for weeks.

Haiti has gotten the short end of the stick in so many ways. When I heard of this earthquake, I thought: "Why not someone else?" Why did this have to happen to a country full of people who are already suffering so much?

I first became interested in Haiti after I saw a news story about six years ago. These missionaries had just up and left a Haitian orphanage, and there were about 30 kids there without anyone taking care of them at all. I just knew I had to do something.

What's amazing is how close Haiti is to America. It's only an hour-and-a-half plane ride. Some cruise ships even have a port there. They've eradicated malaria on the port, and don't even tell their passengers they're in Haiti ... they gave it some other exotic-sounding name. It's beautiful -- it's the Caribbean, but just minutes away, there is so much poverty and devastation.

Haiti is so close, and for us to have so much and for them to have nothing, it's disgusting.

So many kids there need medical care. Through our medical advocacy group, we first try to get children care in their country through groups like Operation Smile. If they are unable to get care in their country, we find a hospital and a doctor in the U.S. who are willing to donate their services to the child. Many children will stay with a host family while they get their procedures done. Once they are better and healed, they are taken back to Haiti to be with their families.

For many of these kids, it's a life or death situation. If they didn't have the surgery, they would die.

We have worked with about 30 kids over the years. The biological mom of my almost 4-year-old daughter Angeline kept bringing her to the hospital to treat her spina bifida, but there is no neurosurgeon in Haiti, so she kept being turned away. Finally, she put her in her prettiest dress and just left her on the table at the hospital where they display dead bodies. That same day, a missionary found her and took her down to the orphanage. I could not imagine leaving her child on a table to die, and knowing as a mother that was your only choice.

We decided to adopt Angeline. But she was dying at the orphanage. She was leaking spinal fluid while we were waiting for our adoption to go through. I found a hospital in Ohio who would perform surgery on her. We ended up getting a medical visa so we could fly to Haiti and get her.

Now she is a total miracle. She is almost 4, and she's able to walk some on her own. Her vocabulary is wonderful. She is one of God's greatest gifts in my life. I knew there was more I could do, and that led me to my son Isaac, who's still in Haiti.

We had planned to adopt two kids, and wanted to adopt a little boy. But Isaac had an issue with his paperwork. Angeline's adoption got processed, but Isaac's was held up. This has been dragging out for three-and-a-half years, since October of 2006. We have had four Christmases and four birthdays without our son. It's so painful.

Legally, he has been adopted by us in Haiti. He has our last name. But there was a holdup with his visa and passport. Finally, last month, we got his passport at last. His bags were packed and everything was done. We could bring him home. But then they told us there was an error on his birth mother's death certificate, so they would have to go back to the archives. Another delay. Then the earthquake. One of the first pictures we saw circulating out of Haiti after the earthquake was his adoption attorney's office completely destroyed -- with all of Isaac's paperwork inside. What are the odds?

I feel so many emotions right now. I feel like God is telling me: "You need to go get your son now." Or is this just not supposed to happen? I feel really selfish just worrying about my son, but he's my main concern right now.

I have gone over three times to see Isaac. The last two times, I stayed at the orphanage. It's owned by an American family. Isaac has pictures of us. He knows we're his mom and dad. He knows all his siblings and their names. They send us videos of him. Even though he's at one of the best orphanages in Haiti, and we're happy for that, it's still an orphanage in Haiti. We just want to bring him home. He's 4 years old, and he only weighs 26 pounds. My heart aches for him.

My husband and I have 14 kids. (People are always shocked by that, especially when they hear I'm only 36.) My husband and I were both single parents when we met. He had four kids, and I had a baby. At the same time, I was also in college, and I was a foster mom to three kids. So when we married, we had eight kids.

We have five biological kids, we've adopted six foster kids, and we adopted Angeline and Isaac from Haiti. For the last year, we have hosted baby "Bear" from Haiti -- he also has spina bifida and club feet. He's had five surgeries; he has all kinds of stuff going on. We haven't heard if his family is okay or not. They live up in the mountains and have to walk when they come into town. They are a really poor family. I hope they are okay.

When one of the kids we've hosted from Haiti has to go back home after his medical procedures, it's sad. It's horrible. But it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

The people of Haiti are so lovely and so kind. The first time I went there, I was afraid after hearing all the travel warnings. But within 15 minutes of being there, I didn't feel any fear at all. The poverty is unbelievable. I've traveled to a lot of countries, but this is a level of poverty you can't even visualize or imagine.

People are around all the time -- at all times of the day -- because they don't have a home or a place to go. It's so sad.

Even when I went to Haitian Social Services to get a permission letter to let Angeline travel out of the country, they had to dust off an old-school typewriter to type it -- the kind that runs on no electricity.

That is how poor they are. I heard someone on the news ask: "Where are the first responders?" I was like, "Are you kidding me? These people don't even have water!" We've talked to parents whose children have died because they couldn't even find a doctor who would see them, no matter how many hospitals they went to. It just breaks your heart.

I really don't know how they are going to recover from this. But I watched President Obama speak this morning, and that gave me some hope. Haiti needs our help. I hope we can give them the support they need.

Right now, my feelings as Isaac's mom are that my husband needs to go over there and bring him home. He is our son, and he belongs with his mother and father. Especially now.

To visit Sarah's family blog for updates, check out Mom to 14. To donate to her medical advocacy group, visit medicaladvocacyteam.blogspot.com/.



next: Two U.S. Travel Companies Suspend Operations in Haiti
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