By Rebecca Barlow
We are Rebecca and Ted Barlow, a nurse midwife and an IT guy living and working in Haiti.
Adoption has been woven into our family from our early days of dating. Ted is adopted, so when we started talking family it always included the idea of adopting along with having biological children. What we didn’t know is that we would have infertility issues, and conceive one biological child who was a “miracle” himself. We felt this was guidance towards adoption, as it was already in our hearts. In the late 90’s, we were attending a church that began an adoption ministry in Russia, in the early days of adoption there. We ended up bringing 4 daughters home from Russia over 2 years. It was beautiful, at times brutal and life-changing in every way. Our 4 girls are now young adults and seeing how important having a “forever family” has been for them prompted us several years ago to consider adopting again.
In 2010, we were leaders of orphan care at a large mega church in Texas and working with the adoption ministry as well, when a devastating earthquake hit Port Au Prince, Haiti. We knew little about it, but were immediately drawn into trying to help. Our family was touched by the need and by the enormous increase in orphans after the earthquake. Also, our experiences with adoption had taught us a lot about the effects of institutionalization and we had become strong advocates for either stabilization/reunification of families or adoption. This led us to accept a ministry position living and working in Haiti where we focused on keeping kids that had been taken in by family members or friends after the earthquake versus placing them for adoption or institutional care. We stabilized these families through local churches and international partners. It was very effective!
At the same time, we met a little girl in an orphanage in 2011 whose biological mother had died in the earthquake, and who had was rapidly deteriorating due to chronic health issues. The orphanage she was in was unregistered and unstable and she was not getting her medications properly. She needed better care. With the help of social services, we received custody of her 3 years ago and we are now in the adoption process.
If the process of adoption isn’t challenging enough, it has been even more challenging to manage it from Haiti! So much of our paperwork has had to be gathered and authenticated in the US.
Our work here is on a volunteer basis at present. Current projects include an IT outsourcing business to address poverty and the economy in Haiti and developing a freestanding birth center providing maternity care here. I (Rebecca) have been flying back
and forth during this time of transition to work as an RN and keep us afloat. Our little Syndie, who has blossomed in the 3 years since we have had her is very ready to be able to visit her family in the U.S. once her adoption is completed.