10,000 children are thought to be living on the streets of Haiti right now and another 200,000 live in orphanages across the country. However, despite those shocking numbers, the Haitian adoption process is a huge roadblock for many. Regardless, Lubbock resident Tanya Russell is on a mission to fight the odds and bring two little girls home.
"Jeffnika was 11 months old when they found her in the streets. She was naked. She was covered in sores and flies and she had scabies," Russell said.
In just three years, little Jeffnika has experienced a lifetime of pain. The staff at the New Vision orphanage realized the child's mother couldn't care for Jeffnika, so they took her in.
"She was 18-years-old and Jeffnika was her third baby and she is mentally unable to care for them," Russell said.
Two months later, Russell traveled to Haiti for the first time, not knowing her life was about to change.
"I met Jeffnika and fell in love with her," Russell said.
Adoption had never crossed Russell's mind. She had a husband and two boys back in Lubbock, but a feeling started to consume her that she couldn't shake.
"I knew I loved Jeffnika. I knew she grabbed my heart and whenever I left she cried and cried for me. And the women here were very surprised why she was crying. And I knew why she was crying because I felt the same way," Russell said.
Russell returned home and told her husband Chad about the little girl who had stolen her heart. However, they also knew Jeffnika had a sister that they needed to meet. Therefore, nine months later, the couple traveled back to Haiti to meet Katina.
"We hit it off. We have very similar personalities and we get along great," Russell said.
The Russells knew Katina and Jeffnika were their girls and started the adoption process.
The Haitian government requires adopting couples to be 35 to 50 years old and to have been married for at least 10 years. Tanya and Chad don't yet meet those requirements, but they're hopeful the laws will be changed. Despite the desperate need, the Haitian government views international adoption as a last resort. Wesner Maurice is a translator at the orphanage and he couldn't disagree more with this policy.
"We are a poor people and she loves these kids. She wants to have these kids and give them a better life," Maurice said.
Even though Russell's boys have never met the girls, they know they have two sisters, thousands of miles away in Haiti.
"They know. We pray for them every night. They've seen pictures. We were able to Skype them," Russell said.
However, Tanya continues to hold on to hope that, despite unfathomable odds, her two worlds will merge someday soon.
"They are my girls. I don't know if we'll ever get them to the states, but I do know that we will love them and that God put them in our hearts for a reason," Russell said.
The Haitian government is working to change their adoption policies right now. However, there is no word on how long that could take. Regardless, the Russells are committed to their girls, even if it means only visiting them a couple times a year.
The New Vision Orphanage is in desperate need of specific supplies that are listed below. They also need general donations, a individual child sponsors, so if you're interested in helping out, you can do so at sondrassong.org
New Vision Ministry Needs List:
Home Construction Program
Our Children's Home
Student sponsors – there are kids who went to school the first semester assuming they would eventually be sponsored. The teacher wouldn't let them return to class after Christmas. So it's not too late to get some re-enrolled.
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