In the midst of devastating news following the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti stories of hope have emerged.
One of those miracles is 6-year-old Bethany, who has found a “forever family” with local residents Ted and Tina Knox.
The first step in the lengthy adoption process began a few years ago when the Knoxs’ 21-year-old daughter, Shanley, volunteered to spend a month working with Three Angels Children’s Relief in Haiti.
“While she was there she began writing about her experience and about the different kids,” said Tina Knox, who grew up in Newcastle.
What really pulled on Tina’s heart, though, was when her daughter wrote about the orphans longing to have a “forever family.”
“Through her writing Ted and I began to pray about whether or not the Lord would have us re-consider adoption. We were both on the same page as far as being open to a child who has no family,” said Tina. “We know that the Lord is the one who puts together families.”
When Shanley returned from Haiti, she told them of one little boy who had captured her heart. After doing the home study and visiting Haiti a couple of times, Ted and Tina were approved to adopt two children.
“After we had done a lot of the paperwork the little boy’s mother decided she no longer wanted to give him up for adoption,” Tina smiled. “I just couldn’t see it working out anymore. We had moved from New York where we had lived for five years back to California to be closer to family. Our business had been drastically reduced due to the economy. We are living with my parents while looking to buy a home in the Colfax area. And we are getting older. My prayer was, ‘Lord if this is going to happen, you are going to have to do it.’”
When the reports of the 7.0 earthquake hit the news, the couple became concerned for the 28 children being cared for by the Three Angels Children’s Agency.
For the last seven years the relief agency has also operated a school for the local Port-au-Prince children as well as a medical clinic.
They soon found out that all the children were safe, but the buildings were no longer inhabitable.
Ted realized the earthquake could change things.
“They are going to need to do something. After being there it was evident that there was no way Haiti could care for the orphans they already had, let alone all the new ones they would have as a result of the earthquake,” Ted recalled.
Within three days they received a call asking if they would be willing to take Bethany, one of the orphans they had met while in Haiti, into their home on a temporary visa.
The agency had arranged to have the children under their care sent to the United States.
“She literally came out of Haiti with the clothes on her back and a small ragged blanket,” explained Tina, who admits the arrival of a six-year- old is a big adjustment for their entire family.
“We got the call on Monday morning, took a red-eye flight to Florida on Monday night and landed in Florida on Tuesday morning,” recounted Tina. “When I got to the place where she was staying, I said, ‘I am here now. I am your mama.’ She just put her arms around my neck and wrapped herself around my waist and clung to me. She just hung on and hasn’t really let go.”
Now the couple is trying to learn Creole so they can talk with this expressive little girl as she tries new foods and learns the concepts of family life in a new country.
“One thing we noticed right away is that Bethany gets freaked out by crowds and lots of noise,” said Ted. “You don’t know what associations they have had.”
And yet, Tina adds, Bethany “hasn’t mentioned anything about Haiti or the earthquake.
“She is just happy to be here. We feel so blessed to have her,” she said.
While the language barrier is still an issue, Bethany’s smile and the way she holds onto the hands of her new parents shows she’s happy to have found her “forever family.”
2/11/10 – by Marci Seither, Colfax Record correspondent