prayers for Ronel

My heart is heavy tonight for the adoptive parents who are still waiting to get their children home from Haiti, and for the children who wait in the balance. Since we got Kembert out last week, things have changed dramatically. On January 18th, the US government announced it was granting humanitarian parole for orphans already in the process of adoption. This made perfect sense: these children were shown to be eligible for adoption prior to the earthquake. The Haitian and US government go through extensive searches when a child enters the system to show this to be true, including the procurement of death certificates, DNA testing, and birthparent interviews. I was so proud that our country saw the value of evacuating these children into the care of waiting families in the US, not only to remove them from a precarious situation, but also to free up room in orphanages to take care of children who are orphaned or displaced as a result of the earthquake.

This all seemed to make sense for a couple days. The US agreed, Haiti agreed, and we saw lots of personal interest news stories of happy families united with their children. That is, until UNICEF stepped in. UNICEF, with their seemingly charitable gestures towards children worldwide, happens to be an organization that is staunchly, and often illogically, anti-adoption. It is also an organization that wields a great amount of power (and money), and when they put the pressure on, Haiti complies. There is a lot to be said about UNICEF's views. There is an essay brewing there - but for now, the short version is that UNICEF would prefer children without parents to be raised in an institution within their culture of origin rather than by a loving family of a different culture. In other words, race/culture trumps family/nurture/security. (It doesn't take a psychologist to see the faulty logic there).

Over the last week, the effort to get previously-matched children out of Haiti has slowed considerably. Extra steps have been added, redundant steps, steps that pose no added measure of safety since these children HAVE ALREADY BEEN CLASSIFIED AS ADOPTABLE BY THE HAITIAN GOVERNMENT, and since these parents HAVE ALREADY SUBMITTED AN EXTENSIVE HOMESTUDY/DOSSIER/BACKGROUND CHECK. This is effecting hundreds of waiting children. One such child is Ronel. I want to tell Ronel's story, because I think it is a compelling example of the need for international adoption, and a tragic (hopefully only temporarily tragic) example of how UNICEF's corruption affects orphaned children.

Ronel was abandoned at the Rescue Center of Real Hope for Haiti, which is an amazing medical mission that takes in malnourished children and nurses them back to health. I am constantly amazed by the life-saving work these sisters do. When he was brought in, he weight 28 pounds (less than my daughter India). They were unsure of his age, but guessed him to be about 7 or 8 years old. Over a few months at the Rescue Center, his weight nearly doubled. Because his parents had died and no other family came to claim him, they searched for an adoptive family.

(photo from RHFH blog, before treatment)

Debra answered that call. I've never met Debra in person, but I feel like we're friends through this crazy blogging world. She is friends (the real-life kind) with Jamie, who posted a photo of Ronel on her blog. Debra saw the picture and knew. THIS WAS HER SON. She and her husband Ernest started the process to adopt Ronel. This was well over a year ago. Like many of us, they were in the wait to get him home when the earthquake happened. Like many of us, they moved into action to try to get their son home.

Ronel was supposed to come home the night Kembert did. He was one of the kids who did not get approval, and got left behind. My heart was so heavy for Debra that night, as she rejoiced for those of us getting our kids home. But even worse was reading this visiting missionary's account of what that night was like for Ronel:

Tara told me today that the boys were flying to the US. One was going to his adoptive family in Houston Texas, the other to a family in Dallas. When I got back from my days work, the boys were all dressed in their very best to meet their new families. They were so excited. I was so excited for them. It was hard to watch them go. Later in the evening after dinner, the truck returned from the airport where 27 children were flying to meet their new parents. In the front seat of the truck was Ronel, the 6-7 year old that was staying in my room. I asked why he was still here and Tara told me it was because they needed one more paper for him. The other children got to go. She said she hoped they could get the needed paperwork tomorrow. I would never wish for you to see the disappointment on Ronel's face because it would crush your heart... it did mine. It was dark and the power was off. He went into our room, laid down on the bed, pulled the sheets up and sobbed. It was so sad. Tara came in and talked to him in Kreole... I'm not sure what she said but I know she was trying to comfort him. After a time she got up and left as I sat across the room. I could not leave him by himself. I went over and motioned for him to move over and I laid down next to him. The tears were pouring out of him. He was still in his new clothes as he fell asleep.

The embassy wanted one more paper to send Ronel home. He was supposed to go home the next day. That was a week ago.

Three days ago, Debra's husband flew down to try to get him out. From Debra:

I did not know I would literally have to fight for him.

He [Ernest] just got word that the US is deciding to comply with a request from the Haitian government. That request is to approve of all children who leave the country after they have been cleared by the United States. France and Canada have not complied and are getting their waiting children home. Our US Ambassador has not cleared children and will not see the parents waiting/pleading. They were just told that the Ambassador has left for the day.

There are sick children and pregnant women sleeping on the floor in hopes to bring children home all the while nothing is being signed out. All documents are ready to go except for that approval.


E has said that every time they call him to the window Ronel runs up to his side and says a phrase in kreyol with an expectant look on his face CAN WE GO? As in can we go home. As in can we go to THIS home. His home.

I will not lie and say that I am not fighting fear. I am. I am fearful of Ronel being hurt again. Being left again. It would break Ernest. I cannot imagine what it would do to Ronel. Would he understand that we would still fight for him? To think of it makes my stomach sick.

That was written yesterday. They spent all day at the embassy again today. They still don't know if or when the ambassador will sign them out.

Ronel's story is just one story of hundreds. Hundreds of orphaned children with waiting families, and nothing separating them but political manoeuvrings and power plays that put children at risk. I hope that you will read this and consider educating yourself on UNICEF's history in thwarting international adoption, and register your voice of dissent.

Raymond Joseph
Haitian Ambassador to US
p 202-332-4090
f 202-745-7215

Kenneth H Merten
US Ambassador to Haiti
Tabarre 41, Blvd 15 Octobre
Port-au-Prince, Haiti
P 509 22 29 8000
F 509 22 29 8028

Hilary Clinton/Dept of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Main Switchboard:


  1. my heart is breaking for this family. Going to do some opinionated writing now.....
    Thank you so so so so so much for giving us some clear directives to fight this.

  2. That makes me sick. Thank you for bringing this to light.

  3. Rachelle6:04 AM

    thank you so much for sharing this insight on things we'd probably otherwise never know. i will do my part in being a voice for these sweet kiddos. praying for Ronel and his family. please keep us updated.

  4. You did amazing at writing this. Can I just copy it and share it on my blog? H

  5. I have some friends here in Minneapolis who were (far along) in the process of adopting siblings. The girl got on the plane somehow last week, but the boy didn't. They were told originally that he'd follow a couple days later. And then... the rules changed. They've applied for an exception & were denied.

    So now, two children who've only known the constancy of each other as orphans are now separated! It doesn't take a psychologist to know that this is WRONG.

    I thank you for writing this. Maybe with enough pressure from sensible, caring people (people with the children's best interests in mind, not child traffickers), things will start to move.

    PS-I'm a friend of whittakerwoman's!

  6. Anonymous7:20 AM

    Hi. You don't know me, but I'm a former (now a stay-@-home momma) adoption counselor and I know the Ivey's. I helped them with Deacon and also did their home study update for Amos and Story once they moved to TX from TN. ANYWAYS, I've been following your story for the past few weeks and cried when Kembert (and Amos) came home.
    I just read this post about Ronel and UNICEF and want to cry again - for very different reasons. I am very familiar with the situation in Guatemala, as I used to facilitate international adoptions, however I was NOT aware that UNICEF played a role. I guess that was not made common knowledge - or maybe I just missed that part of the story? At any rate, I saw firsthand how the situation in Guatemala deteriorated and how families were left desperately waiting for babies they had been matched with. I'm rambling. What came to mind was how I thought (and after googling I guess I was wrong) that Angelina Jolie used to be a UNICEF spokesperson. With all of her various international adoptions, I guess that wouldn't make much sense that she'd represent an organization with that reputation. I wish she'd catch wind of this and say something publicly. Sounds so ridiculous, but that would really shed light on the absurdity of this policy and would really get people fired up. I'll be contacting those you have listed in regards to this. I'll continue to pray for these families and children and I'll continue to follow your story. My husband LOVES the name of your blog. He usually makes fun of me for reading them, but he totally loves the name and is now into your story as well!
    Nicole Hill
    San Antonio

  7. Thank you Kristen. I'm writing emails now to the contacts you listed. Praying for my dear friends Ernest and Debra and hoping this all comes to an end soon....or a new beginning I should say!

    Susan Taylor
    Church Planting Missionary to NYC
    Friend of the Parker's

  8. I started praying for Ronel when Healing Haiti posted... I am so sad to hear this news.

  9. Tears in my eyes for beautiful Ronel and his family. Praying to our all-knowing, all-powerful God!

  10. Oh Lord, please get him out. Praying.

  11. I do not know you all but this brought tears to my eyes. I will pray that you get to bring your little boy home!!

  12. i found out about the parkers and i have been praying every day. my heart breaks for the orphans who are stuck...i contacted the state dept., but i will contact the other names listed. thank you for writing about ronel...praying the Lord intervenes quickly....xo

  13. Anonymous8:47 AM

    This breaks my heart. I know all too well the power of UNICEF. We brought our daughter home from Guatemala in 2007, just shy of the country shutting down their adoption program. UNICEF has a way of dangling large sums of money to an already corrupt government, and getting things their way. I feel very sorry for this family. I can't imagine the fear of not knowing. I will be praying that these sweet children get to come home.

  14. Finally I understand why you and Troy Livesay are so angry with UNICEF. I know you've alluded to your anger with them before on this blog, and I've been reading Troy's tweets, but I couldn't really put it all together until now. Thank you for explaining it all. I will indeed write letters and explore UNICEF more deeply. I'm a fellow Californian with kids 10 and 8 and I stumbled onto your blog indirectly through Cickin'Moms a day after the earthquake. Your story led me to the Iveys and the Livesays and I can't thank you enough for that. I feel like I"m invested in all of your stories and pray for you all.

  15. I'm spitting chips. I have not experienced this personally, but I've had other friends in similar circumstances where UNICEF stepped in and rules changed for no reason. I have also seen first hand what these orphanages do to 'toughen up' the babies; the neglect and absence of love breaks my heart. Many babies die because they are never held, never loved. All their physical needs are met, but they 'fail to thrive' because they are not loved.

  16. This made me ugly cry. I will be praying for them

  17. Anonymous10:01 AM

    thanks for the email information. I am writing them right now!

  18. Thank you for this. We're getting the word out on facebook and I would also like to repost your blog on mine with permission.

    Praying above all else!

  19. As a Siesta Scripture memorizer, I loved it when God brought to my mind one of my verses from this past year. "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the LORD, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your homes". Nehemiah 4:14b Praying for God's perfect will in the life of your newest child and in your home as well. Don't give up the fight!

  20. Thank-you for educating us on this issue. As a fellow AP, I am appalled with UNICEF and am praying that Ronel comes home to his Forever Family in TODAY!

  21. Hi Kristen!

    I am so saddened by these events and feel so powerless to help. Thank you so much for the contact information of people who may be able to change the way this process is being handled. What is the best way to contact these political figures? Is it by phone, e-mail or by written letter? Please let us know at your earliest convenience and I will begin my letter writing campaign for Debra and all the other families that are stuck in the same situation. By the way, I will not be donating to UNICEF anytime soon!

  22. Anonymous1:46 PM

    Actually, I believe UNICEF is right. The people who want to adopt children to wealthier countries are robbing the poorest countries of their future - their children. I think it's an act of agression. Children are not commodities to be bought and sold. I'd rather see UNICEF do its job rather than let the children be subject to predatory (yes, I said predatory) potential adoptive people.

  23. Anonymous2:47 PM

    I also am waiting for a child to adopt. How I hope that Christian families will take children in. That children will not be snatched up and sold like slaves, or taken from parents, relatives, or friends that desire to raise them. That all human life will be treasured for its God given value. That God will set the solitary in families and take care of the orphans.

  24. Nichole5:51 PM

    To anonymous at 1:46 pm: Why were you to scared to post your name? Were you embarassed at how stupid that sounds? Do you realize that the children in the orphanages are not the poor countries only children? What kind of future do you think these innocent children are going to have living their lives in unloving orphanages? To call any adoptive parent "predatory" - you are a complete idiot! My prayers are with any parent willing and able to adopt and all the children needing a home. My prayers are extended to people like anonymous 1:46 that God will grant them an ounce of common sense.

  25. Vanessa6:25 PM

    anon 1:46, you are an absolute moron. That is all there is to say about that.

  26. Anonymous6:47 PM

    I am in total amazement of this! Thank you for sharing-I wish everyone would hear and see this.

  27. I have a bad taste in my mouth! Blehk! Makes me sick and so sad.
    I'm reposting this on my blog....hope you don't mind.

  28. Anonymous11:46 PM

    Unfortunately, my experience with the few ""care agencies"" in my time, has been of obstruction and intimination of those who want to provide loving care to ""ät risk ""kids. Thank you for this information. I will continue to pray for a loving and positive resolution for Rondel, and all the kids in this situation I am also asking for loving comfort and strenth for the waiting adoptive parents

  29. Anonymous10:40 AM

    Read, wept, prayed, contacted all listed and will continue to! May God use the efforts of His people to defend the defenseless and help the helpless...these orphaned children!! If there are other people to contact, etc, post letting us know and we will!! Praying!
    The Skurdal Family

  30. Thanks for this. This post got me off my duff and writing my letters. Good luck to all the waiting families and the children.

  31. Praying and Writing! Thank you for posting this.

  32. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  33. Hi, You don't know me but I read this blog post through the Livesay's blog and felt compelled to write to the Embassy about Mr. Parker's situation in wanting to have Ronel brought home. Their very immediate response (2 hours) to my email is:

    Thank you for your inquiry. We are limited in commenting on any individual adoption case due to Privacy Act restrictions. However, I can assure you that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is reviewing all pending adoption cases in Haiti with the highest priority. We have asked for an update on the status of this case with USCIS. USCIS will inform the adopting family as soon as review of their case has been completed.

    Thank you,

    Haitian Earthquake Adoptions Task Force

    I hope that helps some.
    Praying for you,

  34. Anonymous10:25 AM

    is there an update? my sister and i have been praying for ronel and would like to know what is going on. is he home?

  35. Stumbled across this blog and this post breaks my heart. Going to say a prayer that Ronel will go home as soon as possible... May all the angels and saints pray that God will grant a miracle and let it be done right away!

  36. PLEASE CALL ME! (218)731-5060. I should be flying in and out of Haiti on chartered flights a few times this week! I will do everything in my power to get them on with me if possible!

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  38. I know all too well about UNICEF and its anit-adoption view. I want to cry for this family. I detest UNICEF. I see the UNICEF stuff come out at Halloween time and I will have absolutely nothing too do with them. My prayers are with this family.

  39. Affiliate Marketing is a performance based sales technique used by companies to expand their reach into the internet at low costs. This commission based program allows affiliate marketers to place ads on their websites or other advertising efforts such as email distribution in exchange for payment of a small commission when a sale results.


  40. Thanks for sharing this with us. I'll be praying for these families, also praying for UNICEF to open up these adoptions. Be strong.

  41. Thank you for helping to get the truth out about UNICEF! We were matched with our son still waiting in Guatemala over three years ago. They swooped in, closed down international adoptions, supposedly insisted the in-process cases were "grandfathered", they left, and the rules changed. We were one approval short of bringing him home and have now been dealing with ever-changing policies over the last two years. Our now almost five year old son suffers from severe delays and PTSD. Thanks UNICEF, you're right he's much better in an orphanage in his birth country than in the arms of a family who loves him!

    Praying for Ronel and all the other children left behind!
    Leah Ann

  42. carly3:38 PM

    Ronel Parker is my adopted younger brother. He is happy and safe at our home in kingwood texas. My name is Carly Parker, and i am twelve. Ronel just celebrated his tenth birthday at El' Ranchero's. He had a blast. We thank everyone who prayed for our family. Ronel is so happy to be home and is thankful too. He is learning english by going to public school with his older brother and my younger brother Colton. Thanks again for your prayers. Ronel says hi and thank you.


  43. Anonymous6:04 PM

    The first time I read your blog your blog made me feel I was part of it. God bless you for loving Ronel and giving him a life no other children could imagine. You bring me tears and I pray that you guys succeed in all you do and more blessings you will receive from our Father in Heaven.
    God bless:)


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