Sunday, January 24, 2010

SUN. 1/24: CHARLENE is almost home!

FRI. 1/22 started off as any other day. I took the kids to lunch, then Jack to zoo class and while he was at zoo class, Taylor and I participated in a Field Trip to "Kids Against Hunger" to donate items and learn how this organization is feeding the hungry in Haiti, Mexico and Africa.

We came home and decided to go out to eat for supper. Nathan and I made a pact not to check email until 7pm. We were told we'd get an email from Barbara if Charlene had gotten a Visa, so I put my phone on vibrate, then he stuck both phones in his inside coat pocket.

Well, we never heard my phone, heard Nate's phone, but didn't answer in time b/c it was hard to get to. I checked the phone # via White pages and it was from Westchester, D.C. I thought that was strange, but they didn't leave a message and I said if it was important they'd leave a msg.

We ate and got back in the van. This time we were going to have the phones ready. Well, my phone was ready, but it was Nate's that rang. Again, we missed the call, again from D.C. We had also missed a call from SecureNet about the alarm at the shop (not an uncommon call), so I wasn't too worried. However, we had missed 2 or 3 calls at home as well and this is the message we had on our home phone..

"This is (___) from The Department of State Adoption Task Force regarding Charlene. Please give us a call back." WHOA. Maybe that call was important :)

We finally got a hold of them and they said Charlene had been issued a Humanitarian Parole, they would call us back when they had the manifest stating which plane she'd be on. WHOA.
At this point, Nathan is calling Barbara wondering what is going on.

While we were waiting for the State Dept. to call back, I ran to Wal-Mart to send money to a friend who lives ini PAP and has helped with our adoption, but who is currently in the Dominican Republic buying supplies, then driving them back to PaP to help people who don't have food. I get a frantic call from Nathan telling me I need to come home NOW.

We learn that Charlene will be on a plane to Florida the next day (Sat. 1/23) and Nathan needs to get to Orlando ASAP. So, I got him a ticket for Sat. at 5:50am, he was in Orlando by 11:30am Saturday morning...(about 12 hours after word from the State Dept.)

He patiently waited at his hotel all day. We were told this is what would happen:
Barbara and the kids in their private plane would fly to West Palm Beach, FL.
They would clear customs there, get back on the plane and fly 1 hour North to Melbourne, FL (that's where the pilot's hangar is).
Then they would get in a Limo (another nice man wanted these orphans to arrive in style and donated his limo!) and drive to Orlando and meet Nathan and the other waiting families at the hotel.

That's not what happened. Nathan gets a call about 8:45pm (FL time) saying the kids are stuck in Customs and the families need to West Palm Beach NOW. So, I rented them a 15 passenger van (that's a God most car rental places have that on hand??) and they all drove 3 hours to West Palm Beach. Customs usually closes at 10pm, but the Customs officials stayed there until 1am to process these kids--Awesome. If they hadn't been able to get there, Charlene and the others would've been placed in custody of someone overnight-ugh. Another God-thing!!

Nathan called at 11:50pm (12:50am FL time) to say Charlene had cleared customs and she was in her Daddy's arms! Praise God! They were still waiting on 2 other families to clear customs, then they were going to drive the 3 hours back to Orlando. He said Charlene fussed about the carseat, but quieted down when the van started moving!

Apparently there were 2 couples and 3 dads and if I or anyone else had gone, there wouldn't have been enough room in the van. A God-thing!

Nathan called a few times throughout the night reporting on Charlene. It was absolute music to my ears. He says she's taking it all in. They rode a glass elevator to the 6th floor to their room and she just looked and looked.

Can you imagine for a moment? She just left her devastated homeland with sights/sounds/smells that are probably unimaginable to us, then a few hour later, she's in America, in a 5star hotel with completely different sights/sounds/smells/air temperature.

They will fly into Springfield tonight (Sun 1/24) and I can't wait to see them (less than 48 hours after "the" phone call!). I have a full day planned (Church, Shopping--I still don't have anything for Charlene- and Groceries) so maybe the day will go fast before we have to go to the airport. I'm so excited to have her here finally and be a complete family.

For us, the wait is over. For many others, many of our friends, it's not. Please pray for them, that their kids get out quickly and that their kids remain healthy through all of this!

Thank you Barbara for working so darn hard to get these kids their needed paperwork! And thank you to the U.S. Government and all of the Senators who pushed hard to make this happen! And thank you, God, for being a rock and letting something good come out of this devastating tragedy!


BLOGS I've read to keep up-to-date on Charlene's orphanage: (he's awesome and his updates are awesome) (Barb's site. Daily updates on the left) (1 of 2 American nannies at the orphanage. Her Dad is currently visiting there and her Mom will post if she hears from Lacey)

Prayers have been answered and in God's perfect timing and perfect way.

Overview of the past week

This past week was spent waiting, basically. The Senator's office has been so good about calling with any updates the State Department has come up with!

The Senator's office did call on Monday? saying that the State Dept. is going to issue "Humanitarian Parole" to the orphans to get them to the States. She then said they needed to gather them up at a 'safe place' in PAP, issue the parole, put them on a plane to NY. I am ecstatic the gov't is working so hard and so fast to get our babies home, but that plan made me nervous. I kept praying that Barb would get her a Visa and escort Charlene to the US via her private plane. Now...Barbara does not have a private plane, a businessman from Florida is graciously donating his plane and fuel to be able to bring supplies to Haiti and our babies home. Unbelievable!!

We went to a prayer meeting Wed. night to pray specifically for Haiti. Those wonderful people prayed for Haiti, the Haitians and even specifically for Charlene and our family. It was amazing.

I should've been journaling each day, but as I look back, it seems all I did was wait. Wait for the email saying Charlene was coming home. Wait for a phone call for any possible updates.
This is by far the hardest thing I've ever gone through, but I think that and I instantly think of Charlene's situation.

She has survived a deadly earthquake that has killed her neighbors hundreds of thousands of people. She is unprotected from looters, etc. She is sleeping and eating outside on the gravel/dirt with 70 other people crammed in a tiny area. Does she have enough food?? Does she have clean drinking water?? Does she have formula so her body has proper nutrients?? Is she able to have clean diapers when needed??

She is 13mo. old and has endured more in the lat 11 days than most of us will ever endure in our entire lives.

I thank God for sparing her life. I thank God for the caregivers He has placed at the orphanage to care for her and the other precious babies/kids. I thank God for Barbara who will stop at nothing to legally get these kids to safety (USA). I thank God for the Senators and US government who have worked tirelessly to bring these beautiful Haitian children home quickly.
I thank God for everyone who has prayed for Haiti, prayed for the people there, prayed for our family, our situation and especially for Charlene. I thank God for everyone who has donated, either to Haiti relief or directly to Charlene's orphanage. Every penny counts and is much needed.

I will never be able to thank everyone for their prayers, donations and support, but know I am beyond grateful for it all!

I will post more later.


Saturday, January 16, 2010


It's Saturday, I will report what happened on Fri 1/15.

We were on the phone/email and Facebook all day. I contacted Congressman Roy Blunt's office and I thought she said there was nothing they could do since we were already in contact with Senator Kit Bond's office, but I was mistaken. She (Sue Ellen) called later in the day to report that they were working together to "get around the red tape". They had sent all of our information to the Consulate and to their congressional liason in D.C. Liz from Senator Bond's office called later to report that she was talking with someone (a real person) from the State Dept., but also told us that we need to wait. My Mom has also been doing the same thing we have, only with her government officials in Iowa. She's written letter after letter, made phone calls and I think she's at where we're at. Wait to hear from the State Dept.....

The State Dept. works during the day and has their meetings at night about what to do and what to do with these children. Sen. Bond's office said we may get a phone call Sat. morning about what was determined/talked about at the meeting last night. Even though it's a 3-day weekend for most gov't offices, the State Dept. is working around the clock and Sue Ellen (Congr. Blunt's ofc) and Liz (Sen. Bond's ofc) will have their cell phones on in case they hear from the State Dept. and will contact us immediately.

Facebook has been a God-send. It is has allowed all of us adoptive families stay in contact. I have gotten to know the other families that are adopting from the village where Charlene is before this, so it's been great to stay in contact with each other and keep each other posted on whatever we find out.

I called Charlene's orphanage Fri. afternoon and talked to a really nice man. He and a friend flew down on a private plane. He told me of all of the repairs he has been able to do. He said batteries were thrown about in the earthquake, so he got them back to working again, so they have some power. They were able to have a good meal Thu. evening and share with others outside the Village. That's the thing about Barbara, she will ALWAYS share with others in need, even if SHE's in need. The babies are still staying/sleeping outside because they continue to have tremors which make it terribly unsafe to be in the concrete buildings that now have cracks and are unstable. I was so thankful that he was there repairing what he could! He didn't have any info. on the babies, as he's not concentrating on them. He said they plan to fly out Sat. morning to take 2 or 3 kids to FL for medical treatment.

Nathan talked to Barbara last night and she gave us a supply list a little different from the list Lori gave me the other day, so that is helpful. She really didn't say anything new, all kids seem to still be okay, but they have to get them out. We (all adoptive families) have to be diligent in getting our government to issue these visas to these kids that have already been adopted in Haiti. I have (adoptive) friends who have done interviews with their TV stations, NPR, newspapers to get the word out, hopefully all of this media attention about these children will help the gov't find a way to bring our babies home.

Saying that...Charlene is legally our daughter. Haiti approved/finalized the adoption by the time we visited Charlene last Oct. It was just a matter of 'legalizing' the documents, then getting her a passport and visa, so THANK GOD she was that far along in the process!!!

Nathan and my Dad have plane tickets for the first flight to Haiti on the 21st. I am to contact American Airlines each day to make sure they haven't cancelled the 21st flight. I am absolutely terrified of Dad and Nate going down, but I also will feel better with them there with Charlene. They will be able to help at the Village for a few days before returning home hopefully with Charlene!

I don't really know what else to 'report'. I can say that the outpouring of prayers, love, support, help from SO MANY people blows me away. There is no possible way to thank everyone enough for all of this awesome support.

I will keep posting as I know more.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Latest from State Dept.

I was told to pass this case any adoptive families are reading this, but not on FB.

U.S. citizens with pending adoption cases in Haiti are requested to contact the Department of State at for information about their adoption case. In your inquiry, please include: full name and contact information of parents, full name(s) of child(ren), date(s) of birth of child(ren) [if known], and the name and contact information of orphanage. Your constituents can find additional information about adoptions in Haiti at

We are trying desperately to get Charlene home on an emergency Visa. Nathan is scheduled to fly down Jan. 21st (leave 20th, arrive 21st). He will take 5 bags of supplies and hopefully, prayerfully be able to bring Charlene home with him.

Mom and Dad and Nathan and I will be working all day today to get a Congressman or Senator can get us an appointment at the US Consulate in Haiti so Charlene can get a Visa and get out. That is her only hope.

We actually talked to Barbara last night and she couldn't stress enough what a dangerous situation the kids are in at the Village. They continue to have aftershocks which continue to leave even more cracks in the concrete buildings that are somehow still standing. The could collapse at any time. Plus, disease/illness will start to set in. To be honest, lives will be lost if these babies don't get out.

Please pray, I can't stress that enough. The State Dept. seems to be on the side of getting these kids out, I just pray we can get Charlene out week.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

more news

Our paperwork is currently in MOI (Ministry of Interior). After MOI, it moves to the Immigration office so Charlene can get a passport. After the passport, the paperwork moves to the Visa building where she would be issued a Visa to be able to come home.

I just learned that the MOI and Immigration buildings have collapsed. Our fears have been confirmed that our paperwork is most likely lost/buried in rubble. (The Visa bldg is ok, I believe)

I know Barbara is an excellent keeper of paperwork, so I pray that all papers can be re-created and continue on in the process.

There is only one operational gas station in PAP at this time and all grocery stores have doubled the price of their food. This is going to make for some very dangerous situations as people are desperate.

Please continue to pray for Haiti and for Charlene and for her Village and nannies.

Donations for Charlene's Village

I'm re-posting this. I just talked to Lori and she made it clear that any money she receives goes into the bank that same day and Barbara will have instant access in Haiti. Lori makes copies of all checks received and keeps all receipts from the bank and gives them to Barbara when they meet.

If you would like to help, please send your checks to:

Lori Shepler

11188 Giddings Place

Noblesville, IN 46060

I have also learned that the grocery stores have doubled the price of their groceries, because they can, so Barbara really needs all the financial help she can get.

Thank you in advance for helping our daughter's orphanage be able to get through this terrible tragedy!
Minister of Foreign Affairs (2-8wks) DONE
Preparation of file for IBESR (2-8wks) DONE
IBESR (3-12MO) ENTERED JUNE 2009 (wile I was in Haiti!) EXITED 9/29/09
Civil Court (4-8wks) -- OCT. '09 -
Legalization (4-12wks) -- DEC. 09
Minister of Interior (3-6MO) ENTERED DEC 21, '09
Immigration/Passport printing (2-8wks)
USCIS (3wks+)
Visa Process (1-2wks)

= 10.5mo – 29mo TOTAL

Pictures of Charlene's Orphanage after the Earthquake


This is where Charlene lives


This is Charlene's kitchen


One of the bedrooms--minus the wall


The new playground that a mission group put together--minus the protective wall


More playground equipment. Taylor played on these. Notice the protective wall COMPLETELY gone


The kitchen


This WAS a building, I'm assuming the food depot.


Sleeping outside...

During this terrible tragedy, what can I be thankful for?

1. God is in control--even when I don't like it or understand it-AT ALL

2. The many, many, many prayers/support from family and friends and people I don't even know.

3. Charlene is alive!!!

4. All babies/nannies are alive

5. There are 2 nurses visiting the Village during all of this

6. The Village was damaged, but not demolished.

7. If anyone is going to get anything accomplished, it's BARBARA!

8. I've had contact through Facebook to keep fairly up-to-date on information

Please continue to pray...this is just beginning. The orphanage will run out of food very soon, they need that wall rebuilt for protection, they need diesel for their generator and our babies need to COME HOME. Please pray for safety, peace and wisdom for all involved.

Thank you!

Donations for Charlene's Village

If you would like to help Charlene's Village, here is some information that was posted on FB.

From Lori: just heard the needs for barbara are: food depot collapsed in the night, so they've no food, no diesel fuel, their surrounding wall [for protection] has completely collapsed, masonry work's needed, etc. - please read comments [below] for how we can all help..

  • Lori Goen-Shepler mailing $ to me so i can deposit it into barbara's bank account, so she can draw from it in haiti - mail to:

    lori shepler

    11188 giddings place

    noblesville, IN 46060...

Thank you in advance for any help you can give!

Please continue to pray.


Barbara: she started this orphanage several years ago and still runs it. She always wears a blue dress.
"Village": The name of Charlene's orphanage is Ruuska Village, so sometimes I refer to it as the village, sometimes orphanage
"Creche": Another orphanage down the road from the Village. Mostly for toddlers.
LaWanna: She is not mentioned in these articles, but she is Charlene's nanny. She is from Indiana and has taken wonderful care of our daughter.
Lacey: A nanny who started taking care of babies a few months ago ago at the village. She is mentioned in the 2nd article.

It's 6am and I haven't heard anything. A FB friend said she was going to call Barbara last night at 5pm and post any news. That didn't happen. I'm sure communications is near impossible. We'll continue to wait for more news.

Kelli Hewitt (Lacey's Mom) posted an email from Lacey (written 1/13)..
Uffff, It is crazy here today. We didn't get any sleep last night. Now we are sending emails... the babies are still outside. Upstairs is too big of a mess but we really need to get it cleaned.. all our diesel cans were stolen.. Barbara says the LOOTING has started. Everyone's homes have collapsed, we don't have enough shelter here either. The nurses, Carol and Mandy, are busy putting stitches in kids' faces, doctoring head injuries, and burns...etc.

Please continue to pray.....

Love, Lacey

A friend posted these news articles she found. They mention our daughter's orphanage. The first one is about a nurse visiting her orphanage, who Lacey mentions in her above email.

There are still lots of adoptive families that don't know if their kids are alive or not and there are adoptive families that have learned the horrible truth that their kids did not survive this earthquake. I am so thankful that Charlene and all babies/nannies were unhurt in this tragedy! I ask for continued prayers for the families who aren't so fortunate.

I'll post more as I know more.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Earthquake 1-12-10

a 7.0 earthquake hit Port-au-Prince yesterday (1/12) about 5pm. Via facebook (the only form of communication it seems) we learned that all kids/nannies at the village were okay.

1/13: Today, we've learned that all kids still seem to be okay, HOWEVER, the food depot (the building that stored all food) collapsed during the night. Also, the wall that protects the village has also collapsed. They have no food, and no diesel (for the generator). Without diesel, they may not be able to run the water filtration system. Without the wall, the women and children there are extremely vulerable.

The news reporterss say over 30 "aftershocks" have happened since the 7.0. I have a FB friend in Haiti now visiting her son and she said they had aftershocks all night with 2 'big ones' at midnight and 3am.

We are thankful that, as far as we know, Charlene and all kids/nannies are okay. We are concerened about their safety, about the food shortage and clean water. Another concern is that everyone remains healthy though this, as all hospitals have either collapsed or have significan damage.

Another concern is our paperwork. We were in the last stage before our paperwork was to be looked over by the U.S. gov't for Charlene's visa and passport. I don't know what will happen now, but will update if I know anything.

I am asking for prayers for safety for Charlene and all babies/nannies at the village. That they have enough food and clean water and that they all remain healthy. Also, for our paperwork to somehow continue on in this process. I also ask for prayers for Charlene's Mom. We knew her whereabouts before this, but I don't know now. I pray that she is okay.

I'll post updates as I know of them.