Almost half a decade ago, this soon to be adoptee was malnourished at 4 months old when the adoption process started, eating mushy food at an orphanage, and seemed to be fighting to survive. Yet no journey would be complete without bumps along the way.
Unfortunate as it may be, since Haiti was not part of the Hague Convention, adoption processing took a lot longer. That meant that the US had to check and make sure she was not a stolen child. Visiting this tiny girl at a little over a year old in Haiti helped both Michael and Tina Patterson get through the long haul.
After a grueling wait of around two and a half years, she was finally able to come home with the Pattersons. Daniela, their adopted daughter from Haiti is now 5 years old and lives in America. The Pattersons’ daughters, Jess, Emily, and Molly are their biological children but Michael and Tina decided to help one more flower grow.
“They were included in the decision to adopt and were very excited about it. They were all living at home at the time. Now Jess is in college. Emily is a senior in high school and Molly is a junior in high school. They all love Daniela very much,” said Michael Patterson.
The entire family cherishes the time they get to spend with Daniela at their home in Buckley, Washington and hope that life will get easier for her from here on out. As the soft food from early on left her jaws weaker than the average chewer, this has become a hurdle. Dilemmas like these seem like small wars compared to where she was.
Before celebrating the new addition into their home and heart, there was something that led them down this particular path. Michael and his wife had realized they had not been giving to their church, Cedar Community Church which is a non-denominational Christian church, but had the strongest desire to do so.
As Patterson explained though, after the bills were paid it felt like they could not afford to contribute. That’s when they had decided to start sponsoring 2 impoverished children from the Dominican Republic named Yefredy and Yonalda with the help of Compassion International. They have since graduated from the Compassion International sponsorship program which gives them the chance to grow spiritually, physically and mentally.
After having had this experience from their first set of children they were sponsoring, they decided to sponsor more. Ever since 1997, they have been on their journey of support. Currently, they are helping 9 children from the Dominican Republic, Peru, Haiti, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
“We met them in person by travelling to the Dominican Republic and being escorted by Compassion’s staff. We have even travelled to the homes of the first 2 girls we sponsored. I have visited the children in the Dominican Republic 3 times,” said Michael Patterson who is a Captain on the Fire Department
Patterson went on to say that he and his wife were so affected by what they saw during their travels to the Dominican Republic that they decided to adopt an orphan from an impoverished nation. That’s exactly how little Daniela popped into their lives which allowed the couple to nurture the child with everlasting love.
The decision to adopt is perceived to be one of the most unselfish of acts. Per contra, so many American children would be grateful for the extra aid. Results from the US Census Bureau 2009 results indicated that about 20 percent of children were below poverty level. The line is not an exact dollar amount though, as size of the family and age determine the line being drawn.
Granted, it seemed to be a life or death situation with Daniela. Four months after the Pattersons had taken her to the states, an earthquake devoured Haiti leaving over 300 thousand dead, about 300 thousand injured and more than a million people displaced, as reported by the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program.
Statistics on this topic and related to such are staggering. Take for instance the over 900 million people who went hungry in 2010 according to worldhunger.org. Many came from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia and the Pacific. A percentage of the total came from developed countries, yet it was the lowest score.
Ultimately, government can step up to ensure that adoption complications encircling a child’s life do not become existent. Non-profits can help mend the gap which separates prejudice from society and people can donate their time, energy, and love into this curable epidemic. The choices of today bring the consequences of tomorrow and possibly knowing this, will save a life, just like it saved Daniela’s.