Our Story of International Adoption
From Haiti to Home
by Pedro and Stephanie Garcia
The fluorescent numbers on the alarm clock glowed long past 3 a.m., as I climbed into bed. It had been another emotionally numbing evening of scouring blogs, news reports, and Facebook statuses looking for any updates on the well-being of our young sons.
For nearly two years my husband and I had waited for the adoption of Ian and Alec to finalize. We had (almost) grown accustomed to the 3,000 miles that separated us in northern Chile from them in their orphanage outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. But in the days following the earthquake—which would eventually leave over 300,000 people dead and millions homeless— that separation was a gaping, desperate reminder that we couldn’t do anything to protect or provide for our children. Nothing that is, but pray and hope God would miraculously answer those prayers.
And He did.
From the beginning, our Haitian adoption journey was not easy. Just imagine trying to wade through hundreds of pages of paperwork and process them between three foreign governments. Or standing for hours in front of a Chilean notary to sign paper after paper in a language none of us could read or understand. Then, imagine sitting with a psychologist and taking the Rorschach inkblot test in Spanish, translating his results into English, and finally sending them to a person who only spoke French.
The truth is that had we known the agonizing delays we would face during the adoption process and the heartache that would sometimes threaten to suffocate us along the way, we would never have been brave enough to take the first step. Yet, time and again God confirmed His plan and provision for the task to which He called us.
“Why Haiti?” was a question we often faced. We could only respond that after many closed doors both in the United States and Chile, God seemed to have clearly opened this one. He also surprised us by guiding us to the adoption of two children, rather than one as we originally had planned. As He guided, He also provided. With adoption costs in the tens of thousands of dollars, we could only watch in amazement as He orchestrated the awarding of grant monies and laid it on the hearts of many others to invest in the lives of our family and our two waiting sons.
In September 2008, my husband and I traveled to Haiti for the first time and spent one unforgettable week with our two little boys. On two more occasions—approximately every six months—I visited them again. Each visit was a gift, but each goodbye was devastating. Months went by as we seemed to slip into one bureaucratic nightmare after another.
Sometimes bringing our boys home seemed like an impossible dream.
In those days we could only return to the truth that we knew and had seen realized in our lives time and time again—that God was sovereign and His plans would ultimately prevail.
Finally in January of 2010, after much anticipation, it seemed as though our sons were truly coming home. The 4-month-old and newborn baby boys we first met were now toddlers. But at last they were our own, with full and legal adoptions. Their visa appointments were scheduled at the United States embassy in Port-au-Prince at the end of the month. With great excitement, we began making travel plans to bring them home.
Then, suddenly and irrevocably, everything changed. On January 12, 2010, the earth shook in Haiti and the heartache felt by this impoverished nation soon captured the attention of the world.
We heard about the earthquake shortly after it happened, alerted by a phone call from a missionary colleague who had been watching the news. I called my husband to let him know, then immediately logged on to Facebook. Soon, updates began appearing from a contact who was able to speak via cell phone with our adoption coordinator in Haiti just after the quake. Almost 80 percent of the orphanage where our sons lived was destroyed. By God’s grace, however, they were spared. It was the first of innumerable ways in which God answered prayers and miraculously acted on our family’s behalf.
I grew up in seismic Chile and lived through a major earthquake in 1985 with a death toll of only 180. Because of that experience and the quick reassurance of my sons’ safety, I did not immediately panic. As news reports began to trickle in, however, I awakened to the desperate situation our sons now faced. When I learned that our sons were sleeping outside and that the ground was continuing to shake, I wept and remembered the fear I myself felt as a child enduring an earthquake.
Additionally, and as much as we hated to voice it in the face of much greater concerns, we anxiously wondered, “What about our adoption papers?”
They represented years of work and tears. Again, our family experienced a blessing of comfort. We learned that the United States embassy stood firm, and we knew that our paperwork had reached the point that it was in their hands. We contacted them via email with the desperate hope that our visa appointment might still be honored, but their initial response was not hopeful. Phone calls and e-mails to our senators followed. We exhausted every avenue on behalf of our sons. At each turn we were reminded that ultimately (and always) it was all in God’s hands.
As we waited for our sons, we linked arms with other parents who were also waiting to bring their children home. When the first family experienced a miraculous homecoming of their four children—even more miraculous because their visas had been denied prior to the earthquake —we all rejoiced and hoped for the same outcome. When we learned of a family from another orphanage whose daughter was killed, we all wept knowing it could have been our loss as well.
Every piece of good news brought a rush of hope, and with bated breath and unceasing prayer we waited for our own visa situation to be resolved.
Miraculously, on Sunday, January 17 our sons did receive visas. Two days later, only seven days after the earthquake, our sons departed a plane in Florida and were placed into our waiting arms.
Three days after that, both Ian and Alec received United States passports, despite the incredible odds.
We saw God’s hand in all of this.
When we called for our passport appointment, we discovered that there was only one appointment spot available before our family’s scheduled return to Chile. We rushed to the office with what paperwork we had, knowing that we were missing the required translations. Even so, the agency agreed to work with us and allowed our paperwork to be reviewed by someone in the office who understood French and Creole. The agent assigned to our case processed our paperwork seriously and professionally, and when she was done she quietly looked us in the eye. “Thank you. Thank you for what you are doing,” she said. Tears pricked my eyes as I realized we were likely speaking with someone personally affected by the events of this enormous tragedy.
Exactly two weeks after the earthquake had destroyed the place Ian and Alec had previously called home, my husband, our two sons and I reunited with the rest of our family in Chile.
We are so thankful for the two precious Haitian sons God chose to send to our family. We are also thankful for each of the five children He has placed in our family through the miracle of adoption. But most of all, we are so thankful that He chose to adopt us into His family (Ephesians 1:5) and that we, in turn, have the privilege of sharing that gift with others. It is our hope that our lives and our family will reflect this beautiful truth to the watching world.
God sets the solitary in families.