Haitian orphans in America -- 'Little Angels' find home in East Otter Tail
Of the thousands of stories of heroism, charity and humanity surfacing after the Haiti earthquake, three of them trace all the way back to East Otter Tail County-specifically to one church in Perham.
Three families are now parents of three Haitian children. And those stories transpired in little more than 48 hours-as three moms flew to Minneapolis and returned Jan. 24 with adopted children.
A total of 90 orphans were flown to Miami from Haiti late last week-with adoptive parents from around the U.S. awaiting.
The families from the East Otter Tail area who adopted children are:
Josh and Anita Mycke, Perham, adopted 10-month-old Olantha. The Myckes have three biological children, and now two adopted.
Scott and Darla Wallace, of Perham, adopted 4-year-old Dave-their fifth child.
Jeff and Sheri Siira, Battle Lake area, a 2-year-old boy, Evan, is their seventh child-three adopted.
Families overwhelmed by community support
"The support from the community, the church, is astounding," said Josh Mycke, proud father of 10-month-old Olantha. "The little things people are doing, spontaneously, are amazing."
All three families are members of the Perham Community Church, which has a standing "scholarship" program of offering families $500 if they adopt a child. Benefactors also helped pay airfare and travel expenses for the trip to Miami to pick up the children.
Yet another minor miracle occurred Jan. 31. Perham Community Church passed the plate and collected $10,000 for the three families-a remarkable show of support from a congregation of less than 200.
The $10,000 is intended to defray the legal fees and other costs associated with adoption, said Josh Mycke.
"It is a real testimony to our church," he added. People see the need and they meet it."
Anita Mycke's father is pastor at Perham Community Church, the Rev. Tom Mitchell. The rapid decision to adopt was something of a "team effort" by all three families, said Josh Mycke.
"I'm thrilled to have a new grandbaby. Just thrilled," commented Dori Mitchell, the pastor's wife.
Five families from the church have adopted children in recent years, said Josh Mycke.
Fergus Falls adoption Agency had pivotal role
The families credit a Fergus Falls adoption agency for streamlining and organizing the process.
"Anita and I, along with the two other families, were called about possible matches to act as 'back-ups' in case our agency, God's Children Adoption Agency could not match children with any other families," said Josh Mycke.
"We are very blessed to have three families from the area adopting these children," said Amy Twedt, of the Fergus Falls-headquartered God's Children Adoption Agency.
Those who have experienced long, drawn-out adoption procedures will be surprised at how quickly the process occurred in this case. This was made possible through the process of "humanitarian parole" or "humanitarian visa."
It is important to note that these children were classified with orphan status and were already identified as potentially available for adoption. They were not orphaned directly because of the earthquake, noted Twedt.
The humanitarian visas essentially speed up the adoption process, and in a sense, is another form of earthquake relief.
There are at least two other families in the area who are also on the list for possible adoptions of Haitian orphans.
The orphanage where the kids came from is God's Littlest Angels.
God's Littlest Angels is a Haitian orphanage located in the mountains above Pétion-Ville. The majority of the children brought to the orphanage are between the ages of newborn and 7 years old.
God's Littlest Angels has ministered to the children of Haiti since 1994 and has been involved in international adoptions since 1997.
Mycke credits the orphanage for its quality care.
"Developmentally, these kids are right on," said Josh Mycke. The orphanage operates with strict regimen, as far as naps, sleep and learning activities.
Busy households, kids a happy way of life
Anita Mycke's sister is also adopted, so adoption is a part of the family's past, present and future.
All three families are accustomed to bustling households, full of frolicking kids.
"I did day care for years, so I'm used to having kids around," said Anita, who also maintains a busy schedule as a Perham City Council member.
"Our kids are ecstatic," said Josh Mycke, noting that the two older are pitching in and helping any way the can to help with the instantly-expanded family.
In an email, Josh summed his feelings up with a statement that, no doubt, speaks for all of the families:
"Many times when tragedy occurs, such as the earthquake in Haiti, God unfairly gets the blame. But God is a God of redemption and restoration. When we made this last minute decision to adopt, it defied logic and reason given our circumstances. The Bible is clear that the widow and orphan be cared for by God's people, the church. What excites me the most, despite the fears and joys of the last two weeks, is that the Wallaces, Siiras, Myckes, God's Children Adoption Agency, our church, and the community that has supported all of us, is playing a part of what God is and will be doing in Haiti.
Haiti came to Perham," he concluded.