Oh, friends. I haven’t written much since March because I can hardly stand to share information that will make others feel as sad and stressed as I have felt! But it is time to share with you all who have been so kind and generous to walk with us these almost three years. Thank you! You have blessed us, and we will all share in the victory someday!
So, as you know, last summer we received a referral for Orlanka and Woodjina Auguste, biological sisters, ages 4 and 3 at the time. We met them right away and knowing it would likely be 10-14 months before they could come home with us, thanks to another dozen or so legal steps, we decided to go visit them in Haiti every three months until homecoming, which we have done. We’ve developed a good relationship with them, and I have dedicated myself this year to learning at least a beginner’s level of Haitian Creole so that I could communicate better with them. We’ve also been blessed to spend our year learning a lot more about parenting children with a history of neglect and loss. And we’ve been praying. Lots of praying.
Things went well, in regard to the typical timeframe, until around March 2016. There were small delays, but then one important step in April set us off course for a good 6 weeks. We believed we were finally on track again at the end of May. Our visa appointment was set for June 6, and we heard that the medical appointment (a necessity for a U.S. visa) had happened, too. I packed the girls’ suitcase with their cute outfits, new pajamas, and toys, because anytime that week we expected to get the green flag to travel! But when the week of June 6 had come and gone, only Woodjina’s visa had been issued.
We knew when we received our referral last year that Orlanka had had TB in 2015, and we were told she had received the full treatment. Plus, we have seen her four times in the past year, and saw that she was doing well! We expected that at the medical appointment for her visa they would ask for a chest x-ray to prove she didn’t have TB now, since her skin test would definitely come back positive (as all former TB patient’s would). But we were shocked to find they had asked for a sputum culture test, which would take 8 weeks in which to receive the results. This test is the reason why her visa and homecoming is delayed. We have been told NOTHING. We have no idea why the doctor chose to do this test. Our creche director has not taken her to another doctor to get her checked out, despite two weeks of asking for this action. Jack will probably be traveling in the next two weeks to see what he can accomplish himself. We are praying for connections to a good doctor there. We have a few leads but no appointment yet.
I see this ending in four different possible ways-
Best Case Scenario: CDC protocol is that children under 10 can travel into the U.S. while awaiting these results as long as they are not showing signs of active infection. We have an advocate at USCIS Haiti as well as the Senator’s office trying to get her home using this information.
2nd Best Case Scenario: That her 8 week sputum culture test will come back negative and she’ll get her visa in late August!
3rd Scenario: If her culture is positive for TB, we have to apply to get Orlanka out of Haiti on a medical visa, proving she needs treatment here in the U.S., and establishing a case against the care she has received in Haiti. (Because the fact is, if she does have TB again, no one has been proactive in her medical care and her 2015 treatment failed.) If this fails…
4th Scenario: If her culture is positive, then she has to go through a couple more steps (taking most likely a couple of months), and we can apply for a Waiver of Inaccessibility, which if approved is a way she could come home, eventually, to finish her treatment.
*I do want to say to those of you that might be feeling nervous about this: First of all, the Center for Disease Control says that kids under 10 are extremely unlikely to spread this illness. (I have seen our daughters share the same spoon multiple times, for goodness sake, and our youngest just passed her TB skin test at her visa appointment with flying colors.) Secondly, we will be going quite directly to the doctor upon arrival to the U.S. whenever that happens, so a full work-up of tests can be done on both girls and then we’ll follow whatever treatment necessary if there is any. Just know this: if you see Orlanka out and about, you can trust that she is not contagious. Our government is very serious about infectious disease control!*
As I said in the beginning, difficulties and detours are hard to share with others. But the fact is as the Body of Christ–the hands and feet, the very extension of Jesus’ heart on earth–we are all called to see and feel, and even intimately experience, the dark and seemingly hopeless circumstances people around the world are facing. This journey I’m finally talking about isn’t just about Orlanka and Woodjina…we are just one family, they are just one set of vulnerable little sisters. We’re just one picture representing thousands of people out there fighting for the weak and sick, and speaking for the voiceless. My girls are going to get here someday, no doubt about that…leaving millions of orphans, refugees, enslaved, hungry behind who will still need someone’s eyes, ears, hands, and heart turned in their direction.
That’s why I’m sharing–to be a witness to what I see and know both of the need and the heart of God…and He will take it from there, as He is doing with us, and will continue to do in His church worldwide. (Translation: You want to help? Get to know the Lord and get to know the need. He will absolutely guide you as you surrender to Him!)
Thank you for going there with us, for being uncomfortable, grieved, and restless with us…may God use this part of the journey too to reveal His heart and glory more and more. It is His story!
Teach us to number our days rightly, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Relent, o Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on Your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. May Your deeds be shown to Your servants, Your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us–yes, establish the work of our hands. (Ps. 90:12-17)