Friday, March 15, 2013

Maria's Story - Are Good Intentions Enough?

I want to be very clear in saying that Maria is a fictional character.  She is the combination of countless Haitian girls, not based on one single story.  I want to be sure to protect the identity of all those involved by telling this story through a fictional character.  Because, again, I believe that the motivations of all involved may be quite pure, yet I believe that great injustice is being done to the thousands of Maria's in Haiti and to their mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers.

Maria was born just days before the earthquake of 2010.  She was a healthy infant born into a loving family with a loving mother and father, sister and brother, living in poverty in Gressier, Haiti.  The earthquake stripped her family of their home.  Maria's parents attempted to find shelter anywhere they could.  Tents hadn't arrived in Gressier yet with the main road from Port au Prince to Gressier being impassable.  Maria's parents had moved to Gressier a few years before the quake in search of work in a city center and didn't live near their families in the rural areas anymore. They were alone, homeless, and struggling to survive.  Maria's parents built a stick shelter with a tin roof and sheets hung for walls.

Maria's mother, Linda was struggling.  After the trauma of the earthquake, with little access to water or enough calories, and no support from family and friends, Linda's milk dried up.  With no breast milk and insufficient money for formula, Linda could no longer provide Maria with nourishment.  Maria, within a few days became critically malnourished.  Maria's mother heard of an orphanage in the area.  It had also been effected by the earthquake and was struggling with sub-par shelters for the children.  However, the orphanage did have funds for formula and Maria's mother knew giving her child to the orphanage would mean saving her life.  In the trauma and confusion in the days and weeks after the earthquake Maria was given to the orphanage. The orphanage offered no counseling, no needs assessment, no support for Linda to keep her own child, no connections to other organizations that could meet Linda's needs in the community.  Linda believed giving Maria to the orphanage was her only option and a temporary solution.

Just a few weeks after the earthquake the country was flooded with short-term teams of individuals coming to provide relief.  For many of the short-term team members it was their first experience in Haiti.  Not knowing the country before the earthquake made the devastation after the quake seem even far greater than the atrocity that it was. Hearts were stirred. Cynthia from a southern state in the US visited the orphanage where Maria's was being cared for.  She held baby Maria just 4 weeks after her birth.

She fell in love.  The orphanage director told Cynthia she was welcome to start the adoption process with any child she wanted from her orphanage.  Cynthia chose Maria.  As Cynthia started the long and extremely expensive process of international adoption in the states, a different group of short term team members helped Linda and her family to rebuild their lives.  They provided the family with a new home and soon after Maria's father found work.

Linda loves Maria.  Cynthia loves Maria.

Linda's hears of the adoption and starts to comprehend the paperwork she's done has allowed for Maria to be adopted out of the country.  Linda's heart breaks with the realization of what she has done.
Cynthia longs to bring Maria home.  She yearns for the moment they will be reunited again.  She believes she is doing the will of the Lord.  But sometimes she wonders if this is really what is best for Maria and for Linda.  The doubts are quickly squelched realizing the $16,000 she has already sunk into the process.  And she loves Maria.  She will provide her with a home not riddled by the uncertainty of poverty.

It happens everyday in countries all over the world.
I pray for family reconciliation for all the Maria's of the world, for empowerment of all the Linda's of the world.  I pray for courage for the Cynthia's of the world.
Sometimes I simply do not think good intentions are enough.

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