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My Christian life: Haiti adoptions

Adopting two children from Haiti brought blessings beyond what anyone expected.

Paul S. Steinberg

I’ve always wanted a large family. I joked with my friends that I hoped to have one child for each letter of the alphabet. My attitude flowed from my wonderful parents and from meeting families larger than mine . . . including my wife’s.

My wife and I met in the summer of 1989. We were both part of the Fox River Valley Lutheran Youth Band. We were engaged that fall. By the time I was a pastor in Mauston, Wisconsin, we were on our way to having four sons. But the birth of that fourth son brought the news that more natural children were not in God’s plan for our family.

While my wife was still in the hospital, I searched the internet to learn all about adoption. After I was convinced it would be a good way to expand our family and share the love of Jesus, I went to her hospital room, sat next to her, and asked boldly, “So, what do you think about adopting a child?” To my happiness, her reply was, “As long as we adopt at least two.”

That led us to decide to adopt from Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Adoption ups and downs

We chose our first international adoption agency because we could connect with the owner face-to-face in a nearby town. But difficulties arose. The lady we worked with suddenly closed her business and kept everyone’s money. Since all of our paperwork was in French, we quickly were able to find a local adoption agency in Haiti called New Life Link.

By that time, our sons were 8, 7, 5, and 3, so we requested two boys younger than 3. Translation difficulties garbled our request, and we were given twins—a brother and sister, Mackenson and Mackencia. We planned to travel to Haiti in October 2004.

At the time Haiti was in economic and political turmoil. Some adopting families had experienced delays of weeks waiting for the American Consulate to reopen. Leaving our four sons with friends, we traveled to Haiti and prayed for the Lord to be with us. We managed to complete the adoption but were hurried home because there were threats of Americans being beheaded.

But our trip was not in vain. Even in the face of those threats, we were blessed that the family of our twins walked and took a tap-tap (Haitian taxi) for hours to meet us. They had brought their children to the orphanage months before and had not seen them since. Their 6-year-old twins received medical care and regular meals but were still only 30 pounds.

The New Life Link orphanage promised the parents that only Christians were allowed to adopt. I was not surprised to learn their father was an evangelist. The parents laid their hands on their children and blessed them as they placed them in our arms. We ate lunch with our new twins, their birth parents, a 22-year-old sister, and an aunt. We learned the twins had five other living siblings. I promised we would send pictures and would bring them back to visit when they were adults.

Separation and reunion

We sent pictures to the orphanage after the first year, hoping their aunt would deliver them to the parents. We heard nothing. We prayed for Mama and Papa Samedi every night and hung their picture on the wall. My twins often watched the video recording of them being blessed and placed in our arms. It felt as if Papa Samedi was my brother who was placing his children in my family because he knew he could not provide for them.

Several years later, a terrible earthquake hit Haiti and left hundreds of thousands dead. We prayed for the Samedi family but heard nothing. The orphanage was destroyed. Still, we were determined to reconnect our twins with their Haitian family.

In 2017, my Haitian children entered college. We still had no way of knowing if their family was alive or how to contact them. We prayed, determined to keep our promise.

On Feb. 27, 2018, we traveled to Haiti. Our driver knew the head of our orphanage and told us that the orphanage had been rebuilt. He was able to find a phone number. I asked the head of the orphanage if he could locate my twins’ family. The next day he called. He had located them! They were coming to the orphanage. We could meet them there!

It was dark when we arrived. We were not sure what to expect. As my twins entered the room, Mama Samedi grabbed them both and waved her hands. In Creole, she declared, “Thanks be to God!” Soon Papa Samedi had them in his arms, and everyone was hugging, kissing, and crying.

Enite, the sister we met 13 years earlier, grabbed my face and said in English, “You kept your promise!” Papa Samedi raised his arms and began singing, “How Great Thou Art!” All the family members did the same. It was the best picture of heaven I have ever experienced.

Over the next two days, my twins met all their siblings and their extended family. To our surprise, almost all of them had smartphones. Most could speak some English.

Then it was time to go home. With tearful good-byes, my children hugged their relatives. We left, promising to stay in touch.

Almost two years have passed since that first reunion. My twins’ siblings have communicated on a regular basis with us via WhatsApp and social media. The twins traveled back to Haiti over their spring break and visited their family without us. They wanted to go back for their brother’s wedding, but their family advised them not to travel for safety concerns. They hope to return again this spring.

Currently, I am trying to help other Haitian families digitally connect with the children they entrusted to adoption. I am also working with the siblings of my twins to see if they can come to America for their education.

The Lord exceeded what I prayed for and has blessed my family beyond what we could have ever imagined! Since the adoption, many have commented to my wife and me that we are doing such a wonderful thing. By God’s grace, we have received much more than we have ever given.

We encourage all who are able to consider adoption and to trust the Lord to bless it.

Author: Paul S. Steinberg
Volume 107, Number 01
Issue: January 2020

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