Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Baby Nathalia Comes Home...

Spa Utopia warmly welcomes baby Nathalia home!

Proud parents Michelle and Michael held their four-month baby daughter for the first time on the crisp, cold afternoon of January 30, after flying to Ottawa to meet her.

"It was the happiest day of our lives," says Michelle, who works at the Langley location. Two days earlier, Michelle and Michael heard that the long road to bringing their baby home would shortly come to its happy conclusion. Coincidentally, it was Michelle's mother's birthday.

"I picked up the phone and told her, "Happy birthday! Your granddaughter is coming home."

Michelle and Michael have known for a long time that they wanted to adopt internationally, hoping to find a child needing the love and care they knew they could provide. Michelle's long-time friend, Andrea, had two adopted sisters from Haiti and Andrea's family was actively involved in supporting an orphanage in that country. They started the adoption process for a Haitian child three years ago after watching a DVD that Andrea brought home with her from Haiti.

"I saw these children singing in church, the same song I used to sing, but in Creole," says Michelle. "It brought up a lot of emotions. I knew right then that we were meant to adopt a child from here. Despite their situation—they have nothing—they all had big, happy smiles on their faces."

As the weeks turned into months, it became apparent that the adoption process would not be a short one. The paperwork involved to adopt a child from Haiti is overwhelming, involving many stages. At any point, an oversight can happen, and later did for Michelle and Michael. Although adopting a child from another country may have been easier, the couple knew that a Haitian child was destined to be in their future.

"Haiti had chosen us when we watched that DVD," Says Michelle. "We did not make the choice."

Weeks later, Michelle heard from Andrea who had gone to Haiti and found a different orphanage called Rivers of Hope.

"For six months, we believed we were going to adopt a child from there, but then the birth mother showed up," says Michelle. "That same weekend, a baby was born, and given up for adoption. This was our Nathalia. It was meant to be..."

After months of waiting and trying to sort out the tangle of paperwork, in January of this year, Michelle and Michael were scheduled to sign the adoption papers for Nathalia when the unthinkable happened. On January 12, at 4:53 in the afternoon local time, an earthquakeof magnitude 7.0 decimated much of Haiti, causing death and devastation country-wide.

"Our first thought was of course, Is she alive?" says Michelle. "Seven-and-a-half hours later we found out that the orphanage itself was OK, but the director and staff had lost their homes."

As the world knows only too well, the situation in Haiti became worse as aftershocks, and a lack of food and water impacted survivors. Nathalia's caregiver in Haiti, Rachel, strove to find her the soy milk she desperately needed, facing unimaginable tragedy and destruction on the streets. Somehow in the midst of all the confusion, a missing piece of paperwork was found and the Canadian authorities arranged to fly the children whose adoptions had been processed out of Haiti and to their new home.

"It was bittersweet," says Michelle. "Nathalia would be coming home but Rachel, who ran the orphanage and had fought to keep her alive and safe, would be staying behind."

On Saturday afternoon, Michelle and Michael stood with a long line-up of anxious parents at the airport in Ottawa and watched joyfully as 62 Haitian children and babies walked or were carried across the tarmac. Two of the children stopped to touch something they had never before seen: snow. It was a bright, sunny afternoon but the sun could not match the brightness of the smiles that day— both on the faces of the children, and their new families.

"It felt like a miracle," says Michelle, pictured here with Michael and Nathalia at the airport. "But we wouldn't be holding Nathalia now without the help of so many others—our church, our friends, the adoption agencies, the orphanage, and Spa Utopia, which gave me all the time off that I needed to deal with the last few difficult weeks of Nathalia's adoption."

Everyone at Spa Utopia wishes Nathalia, Michelle and Michael a truly wonderful life together...as you said when you heard Nathalia had been born, "It was meant to be..."

1 comment:

  1. What a heart-warming story! Wishing the whole family a happy future together.