Pierre, director of the Maison des Enfants de Dieu orphanage in Haiti, provides insight into life in the orphanage and how we can support the children. The orphanage is home to over 60 children, most of whom were abandoned since the earthquake in 2010. It serves as an oasis of hope for children without families to care for them.
1) Can you tell us about yourself and your position as Orphanage Director?
“My name is Pierre Alexis, and I’m the manager of the orphanage. I’m married and have 6 girls… 5 girls, plus my wife [laughs]. I live in Haiti, and we have 65 kids under our care in the orphanage. We have been doing this for a long time, since October 2007. It’s a job we love. It’s like a ministry for us, and I feel like we’re investing in the future because kids are the future. Especially the Haitian kids, where they don’t really have a good situation to grow up in. We are so happy to be able to get them forever families that can give them a better future. I’m so excited to work with CAN to find them families!
I am a pastor too. We have a ministry at the orphanage which serves the kids in the orphanage and people in the community. It’s important for us to make sure that the kids grow up in the word of God.”
2) What do you enjoy most about your job?
“Being with the kids and also finding them families. Whenever I’m in America with kids that were at a certain time at the orphanage, it always brings me a lot of joy knowing where they came from and what is waiting for them ahead. I think this is the biggest thing we can do for kids: give them the life they deserve. So I’m thankful for the American families we have here that are doing a good job making sure that these kids are doing well.”
3) What is the biggest challenge working in adoption?
“The biggest challenge is bureaucracy; it’s the process. We don’t have control over part of it, and you have to wait and wait, and you cannot really predict what will happen. That usually causes frustration, but what gives us strength to continue is the result when we know that the kids will have a better life in the end. This encourages us to keep on doing it.”
4) What are the typical reasons why children are admitted to the orphanage?
“First of all, it’s extreme poverty. We have kids in the orphanage whose parents cannot take care of them and used to eat twice a week and used to find food in the trash. We also have street kids who are abandoned by their parents and have to find a way to live by themselves on the streets.
The third type we have is kids from “restavec”, a creole word that means modern slavery. It’s like domestic slavery, where kids work hard doing adult work because their parents cannot take care of them. Their parents send them to an uncle or aunt’s house, where they work as an adult to take care of that person.
The other type of kids we have is abandoned kids that we found in a ravine or by a river. This includes kids from the government that were abandoned on the street or by bushes, so we have them also at the orphanage.”
5) Can you describe the typical day for a child at the orphanage?
“Usually our kids wake up early, like 5:30. The nannies wake up early and clean them, and after that they feed them by 6:30 or 7. And then the little ones go back to bed to take a nap. For the ones that are ready to go to school, they get their uniform on and have their breakfast, and then they have devotion by 8. And after that, by 8:45 they get ready to go to school. And by 10:30 they get a break. By 11, they go back to school until 12. And when they finish, some stay to do homework and some just go play. By 1 they have lunch. After lunch, they go back to do some homework if they have any, and they give them a bath because they get showered 3 times a day.
After that they have time to play! We have a playground. By the end of the day at 5:30, they get their supper. After supper, they get to spend time watching TV, or we set up a movie for them. After that they brush their teeth, do their devotion, and they go to bed. We try to keep them busy and at the same time give them break time to play and be kids.”
6) What is the caregiver to child ratio in the orphanage?
“That’s a good question. We don’t really define that, but we make sure that we have enough nannies for all of our kids, especially our babies. Actually we have more nannies taking care of babies than big kids, since they require more attention and help. We have 30 big kids and 35 babies at the orphanage. We have around 60 people on staff that includes washers, nannies, security guards, teachers, nurses 24/7, groundskeepers, cooks, and housekeepers. We have two shifts (day shift and night shift) just to make sure the kids get attention.”
7) What type of education do the children receive?
“The kids go to school in the orphanage, which makes it easier for them. We follow the Haitian school calendar, so the kids get breaks like summer break whenever we have them.”
8) What type of medical care do the children receive?
“We have nurses, and in the past we used to have a pediatrician in place to take care of them. Right now we have free medical care from a hospital. So whenever they need to see a doctor, we can go there and see a doctor for free, which is a huge blessing for us.”
9) How are the children told about adoption and prepared for transitioning to a family?
“Since we have been doing this a long time and kids that have been in the orphanage see other kids going home, that already gives them an idea about their time at the orphanage. Also we talk to them about that and let them know that they will have a family to adopt them. Actually when they see their friends with families, they always ask, ‘When will I get a family?’ So they are aware of adoption. We also have bonding trips for families, which prepares the kids to come home.”
10) When do children age out of the orphanage? If the children aren’t adopted by then, what happens to them afterwards?
“Children are supposed to age out of the orphanage according to what the law says. The law says if the child is 16 years old, that child cannot be adopted. But praise God, we never had this problem. Our kids go home, except for one child that was going to age out, but there’s a family that adopted the child. They live in Haiti, which is really good.
It’s always hard to send a child back home knowing that child will be back in a hard situation, where he or she can die. So we are so thankful to God that it has never happened to us. I remember in the past a child was about to age out, and we found a family that sponsored the child to come to the States and continue his studies at school. We just want to do whatever we can to prevent the child from going back to the original situation.”
11) Is there anything people can do to support the orphanage? What items do you need the most?
“There are many things! [Laughs] First of all they can give a donation in terms of clothes, diapers, shoes, underwear, and any baby supplies that they can give us. Secondly, they can sponsor a child. They can visit our website www.fhghaiti.org, so they will find information on where to send the money. The third thing is that they can donate money. We always need money there to take care of all these kids and try to feed them 3 times a day.
Also they can adopt a child! CAN will lead and help them to adopt a child in our orphanage. We’ll be so happy. And another thing is they can come visit us! They can come to Haiti, and they will have a better idea of what we are talking about. They will have their own reading of the situation, and I think that they will fall in love with our Haitian cuties. These are ways they can help us.”
12) Is there anything else that you wanted to share with us?
“I think that every child deserves another life. Every child that comes into this world has a mission from the creator. Whatever we can do to help that child fulfill that mission, let’s do it. Even if it is one child, it will be a big difference. Regarding every kid (let’s say in Haiti that needs help), one person cannot support them alone, but I think together we can make a difference in the life of kids. So let’s put our hands together to change a kid’s life.”
Can you believe it is that time of year again?! Haiti Holidays is up and running for the third year in a row, and I am so excited to see what these next two months bring! If you have been following my journey, then you might remember some of the photos below.
As much as we have appreciated receiving donations over the past couple of years, the amount of supplies has grown so much, that we no longer have a place to store items until I travel. So, this year we are asking only for monetary donations and gift cards (Walmart, Target, Amazon). That way I can purchase items before my trips and pack them up immediately. I am headed back to Haiti on November 30th, so any gift cards or monetary donations that I receive prior to this trip will be used to purchase peanut butter, flip flops, medicine, formula, diapers and powdered milk. If there is something specific you are wanting to donate, please contact me prior to mailing the item(s) to our office so I can make sure we have space!
You can also order a Haiti Holidays t-shirt (via the link below) which helps give back to the orphanages as well. The saying on the back of the shirt is in creole and means, “Some things are worth the wait.”The shirts are available for purchase starting today (November 1st) until December 1st.
There are only 7 spots left in CAN’s Haiti Healthy Track program for 2018, and they’re filling up quickly! Families in the 2018 program will be able to submit their dossiers as early as October of 2017, so now is the perfect time to get started!
Our Haiti Healthy Track program is for families who are interested in submitting their paperwork to be matched with a younger, medically healthy child. If your family is open to adopting an older child, a sibling group, or a child with medical needs, then our Haiti Waiting Child program may be a better fit.
Each year we’re given a limited number of spots to fill for each of our Haiti adoption programs. These spots typically fill up very quickly, so we encourage families to get started right away when they’re ready to begin their journey.
We are DELIGHTED to announce that one of the families in CAN’S Haiti adoption program has just come home with their daughter! They’ve shared several photos of their first moments as a family on American soil, and their smiles say it all. After waiting for their referral, traveling for their bonding trip, and finalizing all of their adoption paperwork, they’ve all been anticipating this moment for a long time.
We’re so glad your Gotcha Day has finally come. Congratulations from all of us at Children of All Nations, and welcome home!
This beautiful girl is the third kiddo that has recently come home through CAN’s Haiti adoption program, and we are expecting to receive the news that a few other lucky families will be traveling very soon! We have seen so much exciting movement with this program, and we are constantly amazed at the change that families are able to make in these children’s lives.
Children of All Nations’s Haiti adoption program has a limited number of available spots each year. We have been blown away by the number of families that have already stepped forward to begin their process to adopt a child or sibling group, and we are excited to announce that all of the spots in our “Healthy Track” program for 2017 have all already been filled! With that said, however, there are still a couple of ways that families can begin their Haiti adoption process right away:
Haiti Waiting Child Adoption: If you’re open to adopting an older child, a child with needs, or a sibling group of two or more kids, the Haiti Waiting Child adoption program could be the right fit for you! There are still a few spots remaining in this program for 2017 – if you are open to adopting a Waiting Child or sibling group please contact CAN today for more information!
Haiti Healthy Track 2018: If you feel that a younger, medically healthy child would be the best fit for your family, you can still get started today! Families in the Healthy Track adoption program have to submit their dossiers to Haiti by a certain date. You can start your adoption process today to claim your spot in the 2018 Healthy Track program and get a jump start on the paperwork to meet your deadline!
We have been so blown away by the generosity we’ve seen throughout the community, as our families and friends have come together to contribute to this cause. We have already sent one shipment to Haiti, and we are eagerly awaiting the moment when we get to send the rest of the supplies that our families have provided us with!
Each of the orphanages in Haiti that CAN is partnered with have provided us with a list of items that they’re in need of (see below). Our donation drive will be ending on January 1st. If you’re interested in contributing, please send one of the requested items or a gift card to Children of All Nations.
Thank you for supporting our Haiti Holidays Donation Drive!
– Diapers (all sizes)
– Clothes (For older boys and girls)
– Underwear (all size)
– Bar Soap
– Baby Powder
– Powered Milk
While all of our adoption programs are near and dear to our hearts, there are always certain programs, children, or countries that each of our matching specialists feel a special connection to. Hilary, one of our CAN matching specialists, has always had an incredible passion for Haiti. We asked her to share with us a little bit about where her passion for Haiti comes from:
Since a very young age I always told my mom that I really wanted to go to Haiti. My mom never really understood why I was so drawn to this country and as I got older that passion continued to grow and a trip that I had always dreamed about going on turned into also wanting to adopt. The more I learned about Haiti the more my devotion developed for the country, the people, and of course, the children. I began researching a variety of ways that I could get involved, take a trip, and do more. This ended up leading me into my current role as an International Adoption Counselor and working directly with Haiti. Who would have thought! I was finally able to take my first trip to Haiti this past February and as the plane descended for touch down and I could finally see the country tears began streaming down my face. This was a moment I had dreamed about for so long and to finally be here; well I found myself speechless. This country has been through so much and with the lack of education, resources, and jobs Haiti tends to be left in a state of struggle. But, even with all they go without the people and the children have such a joyous spirit that you can feel almost everywhere you go. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I truly believe that Haiti and its people are breathtakingly beautiful.
In February of 2016, Hilary was part of a team with CAN that traveled to Haiti to visit the orphanages that we’re partnered with, bringing all of the donations that we had received for Haiti Holidays. Below is a video from her time in Haiti. If you’re interested in contributing to this year’s Haiti Holidays donation drive or if you would like to learn more about our Haiti adoption program, contact Hilary at firstname.lastname@example.org today!
Children of All Nations recently received a very exciting update from Haiti on our re-accreditation and quota for the upcoming years, stating that we can now accept TWICE as many families as before! This is wonderful news, as each family that submits their dossier to Haiti means another child is coming home. Our Haiti adoption program is very near and dear to our hearts, and CAN’s matching specialists are incredibly passionate about finding homes for children in Haiti.
CAN’s Haiti adoption program has both a Healthy Track and a Waiting Child program. This makes it a great option for many families, whether they’re looking to adopt a younger medically healthy child or they’re open to adopting an older child, a sibling group, or a child with medical needs. The needs of children in the Waiting Child track often vary, and can vary anywhere from very minor to more moderate or severe depending on the child. As the process for CAN’s Waiting Child adoption program is different from that of the Healthy Track program, we encourage any families that are interested in learning more about it to reach out to our matching specialists!
We have already filled our Healthy Track spots for 2016, and our 2017 spots are filling up quickly!
The three families that recently traveled to Haiti for their Socialization trips are back, and catching up with them and hearing their stories has been amazing! After talking to them so much before they left I felt the tables had turned while they were in country and I was constantly waiting for them to email me with updates(I imagine this is how families feel waiting to hear from me!). They all had a wonderful time in country and a couple of them are going back this summer to see their kiddos again while we wait for the adoptions to finalize.
Once a referral is received for a family and the Socialization trip happens the social worker that conducted the visit with the family and the child has 10 days to submit a report to IBESR. Once this is submitted the dossiers (family and child) will go to four different offices to get signed off on. After all the signatures are provided the dossiers are able to be pulled from IBESR and the family is invited for the final trip to complete the adoption.
Now that Haiti has gone Hague we all anticipated more movement happening and ideally the process in general taking less time. After various meetings were held in country it sounded like the matching time for families would be around a year from dossier submission and around 4 months between the Socialization trip and finalization. So for the time being all we can do is hope this is how the process will be going forward, and we can get all these children home soon!
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18
After a lot of chaos, stress, excitement, more stress, more chaos, and of course more excitement we officially now have three families in country for their socialization trips! These are the phone calls I get to make very few and far between since the wait times for Haiti are longer but they are always the most exciting. Well, almost as exciting as calling families and telling them we FINALLY got their referral. Each family in country is at a different step in their journey but I am so glad they all have each other in country to bond, converse, and ultimately to gain new friendships. As a case manager these are some of the greatest moments..getting my families to this point; the point we have all been waiting for and ultimately what can also be known as the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”
If your family is interested in learning more about our Haiti adoption program, contact our Matching Specialist, Hilary, at email@example.com or get updates about our current families by following her blog!
We are so happy to announce that CAN has recently received THREE more referrals for our Haiti adoption program! We are so excited for these families and their kiddos, as they are one step closer to being united. Congrats to these families from all of us at GWCA and CAN!
Our Haiti adoption program has both a Healthy Track and a Waiting Child program. Our Healthy Track program gives families the opportunity to be matched with a medically healthy child as young as 2.5 to 5 years old! Each year we are given a limited number of spots to fill for this program, and we are currently accepting applications! If you’re interested in learning how your family can join our Haiti Healthy Track adoption program, contact our CAN Matching Specialists today!