With a space heater in her bedroom and the support of a new family, little Loujina Ann VanProyen should feel warm this Christmas.
The 2-year-old Haitian moved to the much cooler climate in Carlsborg on her birthday Nov. 5, following her adoption by the Rev. Mike VanProyen, pastor of King’s Way Foursquare, and his wife Marilyn.
“To have Loujina home is pretty miraculous,” Mike said.
Loujina was born in Mirebalais, Haiti, outside Port Au Prince, where devastation of the January 2010 7.0 magnitude earthquake remains to impact the people in the whole country.
Mike said he and his daughter Christine, 15, were on a mission trip in Malaysia when the earthquake hit. In April 2010, he visited Haiti to learn how his church could help.
He visited neighboring Dominican Republic since 2004 on missions and since the earthquake helped organize seven missionary teams to Haiti for construction and humanitarian projects. Mike visited the country nine times in nearly three years.
Marilyn said the idea of adopting was something she and Mike discussed before marrying.
“After the earthquake there was such a deep need,” she said.
“It brought (adoption in Haiti) to our attention.”
The couple began searching information about international adoption and about a year later sent papers through New Life Link, an adoption agency, to Haiti, where they learned of Loujina.
They visited her in September 2011 for five days and received her adoption decree in July, almost a year later.
Mike said it was hard for he and Mairlyn to leave Loujina behind for such a period of time while they waited for the appropriate paperwork.
In September of this year, the VanProyens received Loujina’s passport, and the couple visited Oct. 24-Nov. 3 to bring her home as a citizen.
Mike said the state department said it was the fastest adoption since the earthquake happened.
The couple said last year only 36 children were adopted out of the country because the earthquake destroyed much of the country’s government infrastructure.
With Loujina, her mother, Marie Rose Augustin, had to pay the costs to go the embassy and tell them firsthand why she was putting her daughter up for adoption. They also needed Haiti President Michel Martelly to sign off because the VanProyens have more than two children in their household.
Mike said Augustin, who raised other children, didn’t receive any money from the adoption and told him she had no choice but to have Loujina adopted.
“A cholera outbreak hit the area following the earthquake,” Mike said. “(Loujina) wasn’t unwanted.
We didn’t save Loujina. Her mom did.”
Rachel said the transition was easier than they had thought.
“Mom and Dad talked to us about it,” she said. “Adding a new kid is good news. It’s normal in a big family.”
Christine said she’s asked about her parents adopting since Gerrit was born.
Gerrit said his new sister definitely has the cute factor.
Thanksgiving went without a hitch, Marilyn said, and Loujina enjoyed being around extended family. With Christmas coming up, Mike said they plan to keep it simple.
“We don’t want to overwhelm her with stuff,” he said. “Simplicity is what we’re aiming for here with promoting relationships and gratefulness.”
So far, she’s been learning about a word a day and enjoying staples of oatmeal, rice, beans, corn meal and quinone.
Loujina sticks close to Marilyn and tends not to be more than a room away.
“Marilyn is her security blanket,” Mike said. “She’s supermom.”
The family occasionally runs into language barriers with Loujina, but are teaching her sign language for basic needs.
“To help accustom her to our family’s culture has been a blessing,” Mike said.
“I’m really grateful to the Lord for the chance to adopt Loujina,” Mike said. “I feel we were given something great. The more I look in her little eyes the more I fall in love with her.”
Need not gone
“Adoption is only one small answer to the problems for children in Haiti,” Mike said.
He suggests investing in schools, water and wells and education.
“If a child gets one meal a day, there that’s perceived as good,” Mike said.
Rachel and Christine have both gone on multiple trips to the area and realized the importance of adoption and supporting the country.
Rachel said on her first trip to an orphanage she met a sick boy. She took his photo and learned he died later in the night due to the facility not having the right medicines.
Christine went on a separate trip where they didn’t have power or water for a week and learned how harsh of conditions some children must live in.
King’s Way supports three orphanages, helping about 400 children.
For those wanting to help, send a check to: “King’s Way Foursquare, 1023 Kitchen- Dick Road, Sequim, 98382,” with a note of “Haiti,” so all funds can go to helping those children with food, medication and education.
For more information, call 683-8020.