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25370: (news) Chamberlain: Not Without the Children (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By KRISTIE RIEKEN
BRYAN, Texas, June 12 (AP) -- Cindy Kraft cries nearly every night when
she calls her husband from Haiti.
Living in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere while awaiting
approval to adopt four children takes its toll on the Texas physician's
She shakes cockroaches out of her bed sheets, sometimes goes days
without clean water and is often startled by armored United Nations'
vehicles rumbling down the street near the Haiti Children's Rescue Mission
where she and her three school-age daughters work. Her son, Joey, 18, is
back home in Bryan, northwest of Houston, with her husband of 20 years,
Cindy has been in Haiti since Dec. 5. Harvest International, the
Florida-based non-profit Christian organization that funds the orphanage,
called her after some workers abandoned their jobs and asked her to help
care for the 101 children.
She doesn't know when she will leave. And she says she won't come home
without the four children the Haitian government says she can't have.
"They are already ours in our hearts," she said by phone from Pelerin,
Haiti. "It is not even an option to leave. I'm their mommy and they've
already been abandoned once. There is just no way I'll go home without
Haiti requires that prospective parents be older than 35, married for at
least 10 years and have no children of their own to be eligible for
adoption. The president can make exceptions, but interim President Boniface
Alexandre denied the Krafts' request in February, apparently because they
already have four children.
Now the Krafts' options are limited. Alexandre won't consider their
appeals. The couple's Haitian lawyer told them they could write a letter to
a Port-Au-Prince newspaper, or an American political figure could write to
Alexandre on their behalf.
The Krafts have asked the Haitian Consulate in Miami to intervene on
their behalf with the president, but haven't received any help, Joe said.
The couple has written several politicians, including Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
and the elder President George Bush, but neither has responded.
So they wait, hope and pray.
Forty-one-year-old Cindy is a deeply religious woman who home-schools
her three daughters -- Caitlin, 15, Caroline, 12, and Jeweliet, 10. She
hadn't considered adoption before 2003, when she found a Haitian adoption
Web site after a friend mentioned her struggles with domestic adoption.
Cindy believes God steered her to the children of Haiti, a country of
more than 9 million where 75 percent live in extreme poverty and one-third
of all children die before age five.
"This was a huge change of life for us, but we knew it was our calling,"
she said. "I realized that we actually had children that belonged in our
family that we had not met yet that lived in Haiti."
Her 44-year-old husband, an emergency room doctor, agreed to adopt
without a second thought.
The Krafts had been renting a modest house in Bryan and saving money to
build their dream house before turning their attention to Haiti. Joe works
a month worth of shifts in two weeks so he can spend the other two weeks
each month in Haiti with his family. A big chunk of his earnings, about
$2,000 a month, is spent to help support the orphanage and cover his travel
Cindy lived at the orphanage until late April, when she moved her
daughters and the four children she wants to adopt into a two-room
"Our whole world just derailed," Joe said. "But God opened our hearts
for these children. When you see the kids down there it just changes your
The Krafts can't imagine life today without Salou, 10; Teeko, 6; George,
3; and Phoebe, 2.
They chose Teeko first. The couple say the boy, whose mother died when
he was 2, learned to speak English in just a few weeks and is a budding
Salou's mother chose the Krafts. She brought Salou, whose name means
"only you" in Haitian Creole, to the orphanage because she was homeless and
too poor to provide for her. The little girl with the big eyes has lost
five siblings, including her twin brother, to disease and malnutrition. Her
mother visits the orphanage often and saw Salou with Joe.
On one visit, Joe said the woman whispered something to Salou, and after
some prodding the girl looked down while repeating her mother's wishes.
"For you ... she gets me for you," Joe recalled Salou saying, while
wiping tears from his cheeks.
Soon the Krafts grew attached to George, who weighed only 20 pounds when
they met him at age 2.
"He was malnourished," Joe said. "He was very wobbly when he walked and
if he were sitting down he was almost too weak to pull himself up."
The U.S. government gave the Krafts approval to adopt up to four
children when the couple got an e-mail from someone who had heard of their
work in Haiti, asking them to check on infant twin girls who had been
abandoned at another orphanage. Joe found Phoebe and Dovie, and the couple
decided they wanted to add twins to their family.
In September, Dovie contracted meningitis and died within 24 hours. She
could have been saved, but no one in Haiti had the $60 it cost to rent a
respirator, Joe said.
After Dovie's death, Phoebe saw her reflection for the first time in a
mirror and "went crazy," Joe said. "She thought it was her sister."
The upheaval to the Kraft family is a sacrifice even the couple's
minister doesn't completely understand.
"I wonder why they don't just come home," said Mark Gibson, children's
minister at Central Baptist Church in Bryan, who has visited the orphanage
twice. "It's an ordeal to go to the marketplace to get the supplies that
you need just to survive."
Joe said the only way their marriage has weathered the separation is
through their faith.
"We've searched Scripture for encouragement and gained a new
understanding and have been taught more lessons of faith and patience," he
While Cindy's time in Haiti has worn her down, it has also strengthened
her resolve to bring the children home.
"These children are the reason that we can't get down and depressed for
very long," she said. "They keep us going. People talk about what we're
doing for the children, but it is nothing compared to what we get from
"We just have to keep our faith strong and wait."
On the Net:
Haiti Children's Rescue Mission: