Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Hope L. Livesay Story ... Just the Beginning

Hope's FIRST-mother shares with us that Hope was born on the way to the hospital in the back of a tap-tap in Port-au-Prince Haiti, on Christmas Eve, 2001. How's that for a grand entrance?!  Her mother has previously placed three other children for adoption and sadly for reasons we would love to see eliminated she also immediately placed Hope in the same orphanage.

We first met Hope when she was just about four months old. This photograph is from that first meeting. At the time this was taken we had not yet committed to adopting her.

Later in the week, a few days after deciding to adopt Isaac, we also decided to adopt Hope. Troy and I laugh about this ... I basically held her non-stop until Troy finally said, "You want to adopt her too don't you?"  In my defense I always questioned how difficult it might be to be the only brown face in a white family and I wanted to try to remedy that situation in some small way.  

From the first time we met her she was a dainty and quiet girl. She has always been a mellow, soft-spoken, patient little girl. She has also always been a tough-as-nails fighter girl.

A few months into her adoption she began to lose weight. Each time I would visit she would either be the same size or smaller. In mid-August of 2002 I was very concerned, she seemed to be losing ground consistently.

In late August we got an email that said "Hope is sick. We cannot touch her. She just screams. Send medicine." Well, we all know how I handled that. I was on an airplane in less than 24 hours.

When I arrived in Haiti it hit me that I had no one to talk to and was all alone with a very sick little girl and no great ideas about how to find her help. I was left to do my best and pray. I have never prayed harder then I did during those five days I was alone with her in a small hotel room. She had passed a kidney stone, that was why she screamed and would not let anyone touch her. A 12 pound baby passing a kidney stone is almost unheard of, but that is exactly what happened. The orphanage nannies saved the tiny little stone and we brought it back to MN to find out what was causing her trouble.

A urologist in MN tested it and determined that she was both severely malnourished and dehydrated. We began the process to apply for a medical visa to get her out of Haiti and to the USA for surgery. One kidney was very enlarged and there was no telling when the next stone would begin to cause problems.

Three weeks later, in mid September, my dad and Paige and I flew to Haiti with a mission team, prepared to ask the U.S. Embassy to let her out on a medical visa.

The orphanage director was very negative towards the idea and attempted to discourage us from applying for the medical visa. She was also the person ultimately in charge of the orphanage that was allowing Hope to be dehydrated and starved ... but I won't go there because I cannot say anything nice about that whole thing.

We went to the Embassy fully prepared and armed to the teeth with documentation. We had repeatedly been told that our request would likely be denied.

The lady from the Embassy looked for a few key documents, gave us ZERO grief and told us she would have a visa ready THAT AFTERNOON. I love this story because it illustrates SO WELL that what seems impossible to man, is clearly not all that big of a deal to God. He can do whatever He wants, and He does.

Hope came home to MN in September, not as our child in the legal sense, but on a 90 day visa. She had surgery a few days after arriving in the USA. She came through like a champ but required a second surgery 40 days later. In between the two surgeries her adoption was legally completed and we returned with her to Haiti to finalize the legal end of things and to pick up Isaac who was then also ready to come to Minnesota.

Our health insurance would not cover the surgery if the adoption was not completed within 30 days of the surgery date. We did what any parent would do and decided that if it was not covered we would figure out how to pay the HUGE bill later. The adoption was completed and Hope immigrated on the 29th day after surgery. If that is not a gift from God, we're not sure what is.

Hope has been with our family since she was nine months old. She fought through kidney stones and dehydration. She is an incredibly resilient little girl.

Recently we received an email from someone who is "opposed to Americans adopting children from Haiti." It was fairly narrow in its thinking, it also lacked understanding of the big picture. I have never been one to see things in such black and white terms. I don't think adoption is wrong AND I don't think all orphaned or poor kids are meant to be adopted. As usual, somewhere in the middle lies the truth.  I prefer to see families stay united.  The fact that orphans all over the world languish in institutions is heartbreaking and adoption into a family certainly beats institutional living any day.  So much needs to happen to break the systems that poverty create. 

We have come to have a strong relationship with Hope's first mom and her older biological sisters; we are so grateful for that.

Happy Birthday to our tap-tap Christmas Eve baby girl.

We LOVE you HOPIE - JESUS loves you!!