“Today, we remember the beautiful people of Haiti. Shaken, but still standing. God has not forgotten you. One year later, we are here for you… carrying hope, help and Jesus in our hands.”
It is hard to imagine that a year has escaped us since the devastation of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. As I look back through photos of the terror that took place, I am saddened by how calloused I have become. Because the destruction was far from me, I have found myself forgetful of the conditions in Haiti that still exists in the destruction today.
But there is one thing that constantly humbles me – the sight of the Hazel family.
I am proud to know a family who is actively involved in the restoration of a poverty-stricken nation and who have so desired adoption that Haiti became the only natural option. The people and conditions in Haiti have taken deep root in their hearts, not just because of the devastation but long before the January 12, 2010 earthquake. Todd and Jennifer Hazel are faithful to God’s work in their lives, their hearts and their daily actions. This is evident in many ways but over the last year, I have seen them mourn and ache over the pain in Haiti, desiring to do something that will bring hope and peace to the orphaned, abandoned and unwanted children.
Adoption has been a God-given desire in their marriage for some time, but it became attainable one year ago today. This passion developed from a far-off hope to a very tangible, very possible gift in the form a young boy named Weisban.
Forgive me if some of the details are misspoken but this is what I know of this precious Haitian survivor.
He was first introduced to Todd only two months after the earthquake. Through Project Medishare , Todd was sent to Haiti to bring healing to children who were traumatized in the wake of the destruction. Unsure of what conditions lay ahead, he boarded a plane, leaving Jennifer and a 4-year-old son behind in Bowling Green. Upon arriving in Haiti, he was placed in the New Life Children’s Home Orphanage in Port-au-Prince to serve as a clinical social worker, providing mental health and psychiatric service to the children.
There he met a boy who lost his parents in the collapse of a building. He was suffering the loss of his only loved ones and also the loss of his leg, which suffered serious damage under the weight of the same building that killed his parents. He was traumatized, malnourished and weak but clenched onto Todd as if they had known each other for years.
During Todd’s tenure in Port-au-Prince, Weisban found his way into an open space in Todd’s heart. And from thousands of miles away, Jennifer was sensing the same longing to love Weisban. Through Skype and the daily updates on Todd’s blog, Jennifer came to know and understand just how extraordinary this little child was.
The prayerful adoption process began when Todd returned to Bowling Green. Research. Adoption agencies. Financial options. Prosthetic limbs for Weisban’s amputated leg. It seemed too out of reach. But their faith in Christ remained strong, hoping and praying daily that if Weisban was the child that completed their family, it would be so. As weeks turned into months, the possibility of bringing Weisban home lingered in the balance. Would the financial burden be too great to carry? Would the Haitian government, which lost all of their adoption and residency papers, allow the adoption to take place? Would something unforeseen tear them from Weisban?
While many questions remain unanswered, there has been a great deal of progress in the adoption of this beautiful boy. Unlike what the Hazels were originally told, Weisban did not lose his father in the earthquake. His father survived, but assuming that Weisban had not, he was not actively seeking his son. Through some sequence of events, his father emerged only to discover Weisban that was without a leg. Because in Haitian culture, this is viewed as a curse and an omen, his father forfeited his parental duties and, after learning of the Hazel’s interest in adoption, gave his consent for the process to continue.
One unforeseen hurdle jumped. But there’s more.
An organization that Todd worked with while in Haiti has become vital to the adoption process. I could be mistaken, but I believe this organization is located in Ohio. The team donated the funds to purchase a prosthetic leg for Weisban. He has since been introduced to his new leg and is learning to walk again and function on his own strength.
If that was not enough, the same group has committed to providing all of the necessary funds to bring Weisban home. Every single penny – covered. When it seemed like a lack of financial support might be the only reason Weisban would stay in Haiti, God provided in a major way. What a great God we serve! He is truly faithful to those who love Him.
So, where does the process stand today? It is only a matter of time. Todd is awaiting a visit to Haiti. It has been postponed twice because of the cholera outbreak and now government instability and violence during the recent election. Last I have heard, his trip is now scheduled for March or May, I believe. When he is able to visit, the prayer is that Todd will be able to speak directly with the Haitian government. With their permission, Weisban could be on a plane back to Bowling Green.
Wow, would that be a miraculous joy or what?! I am eagerly waiting for that day.
- Weisban’s health and safety in Haiti
- Quick movement in the adoption process
- Strength and hope for the Hazels as they prepare to take on a second son
- The leadership and judgment of the Haitian government
And of course, let’s continue to keep the people of Haiti in our prayers. The damage is still very real. The emotional wounds are very fresh, even a year later. The conditions are slow to improve and their hearts are slow to mend.