Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Possible New Diagnosis

After looking at some photos of Grace, our specialist says Grace does not have club feet. Her feet turn outward instead of the typical inward twist of club feet. Her condition is called congenital vertical talus (CVT) or rigid flatfoot. This condition will most likely require surgery as well as some casting treatment. This condition cannot be treated the same way as club feet. We hope that will help our case at the US Embassy in order to bring her home. We are so grateful for the people who have come forward to help us by taking pictures and with offers of medical help.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Medical Visa's and such

We talked with Chris in Haiti last night and have started the process of trying to obtain a medical visa for Grace to come to Grand Rapids to begin treatment on her hands and feet. An Orthopedic surgeon at DeVos Children's Hospital has expressed interest in helping us out with treatments, and we are currently pursuing whether our insurance would cover medical expenses for Grace. A couple things to specifically pray for: We could find all the right people who are willing to team with us to get Grace treatment sooner than later. We could find how to pay for this treatment, whether through insurance or doctor and hospital donations. And of course that the American Embassy and Haitian government would allow the visa to happen. There is also some concern that Grace's hands and feet could be indicative of a type of joint and muscle syndrome that could be a lifelong medical issue, so definite prayer that there is not a bigger issue here, and if there is that God would give us all what we need in any circumstances.

Please also be remembering Baby Myriam. She is one of the hydrocephalic babies who had surgery last week to relieve pressure in her head. It turns out that she has disease that is destroying her brain. Her life expectancy is short and alot of pain is expected.

Please also remember the orphange in this time of economic crisis. The reality is that most people will cut giving out of their budget first, and there are real financial needs at the orphange for food and medical care.
Thanks so much for all your prayers, encouragement and support. We certainly feel lifted up.
Geoff, Judy and the kids

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dossier on the way!

Yesterday we mailed out the dossier to Haiti. It was pretty nervewracking sending these precious documents on to the next step. They have been Judy's full time job for the last 5 months, countless hours typing, authenticating, translating, correcting and searching out the info for just what we needed. Everything had to be notorized, Sealed by the State of Michigan and authenticated by the Haitian Consulate. We hear stories of others whose papers have been lost in process and have had to start from the beginning- please pray that God would carry these documents in His hands to where they need to be.
Update on Grace! She has offically been referred to us. The doctors are putting her birthdate on Aug. 9, so she is a little older than we thought. Her legal name is Grace Jean-Francois. Blood work is back and she is free of HIV, RPR, sickle cell, Hepatitis B and C, and TB. We praise God for His protection over her.
Thank you as always for your prayers and support!

Geoff, Judy, Sam, Meg, Josh, Daphna and Grace.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Translation Done!

We picked up the final translation yesterday. After first being translated to Kreole instead of the required French on the translators bad assumption, the received French copy was full of errors- we fixed 21 errors in mismatched dates and names. As of today it is complete and ready to send to the Haitian Consulate for verification before it travels to Haiti to begin the governmental process there. Please pray for protection over these precious documents that have taken 4 months to get ready and have now put us about 5 weeks behind our original timeline.
We spoke with Chris Nungester this week. Baby Grace passed her Psychological Evaluation with flying colors. The only concern was her lack of desire or inability(hard to tell with a 2 month old) to raise her head and shoulders off the ground. There is some concern of an issue here, but all other tests checked out, so please be in continued prayer for her health. She is receiving a full blood work up this week(apparently she is both syphillis and HIV free), and will be seen by a cardiologist in late October, followed by a Neurologist in November. We hope and pray that all these tests would find nothing more, but if they do, that we would realize it is all in God's plan and that we would find the medical care and resources necessary when she comes home to us.
We also received word that Daphna is getting in more teeth and is walking around in her pack-n-play quited easily. She is going to need to be quite sure on her feet if she plans on keeping up with her big sister Megan.....
We have begun submitting for Grant requests to help offset the cost of adding Grace to the adoption. There are four seperate grants, all with need for letters of reference, financial information, home studies and applications. There is no end of the paperwork in sight! We are also in process of obtaining as much medical info on Grace in order to begin applying for donated surgeries for her hands and feet. These surgeries should be done sooner than later, so prayer that an organization would offer to help and that medical visas could be obtained to bring here to the States for care. (preferrably Grand Rapids!) She will qualify for such surgeries if she is "correctable" and the adoption is not finalized.
Thank you for all the prayer and support offered. We can feel the peace and presence of God as we continue to work towards getting the girls home.

Geoff, Judy, Sam, Meg, Josh, Daphna and Grace

Friday, October 17, 2008

Daphna and Grace on the radio

Good morning!
Through the idea and actions of a good friend (thanks Steve) I was able to tell Grace's story on the local Christian Radio station here in Grand Rapids. They even linked us to the morning show web site. The on-air guy, John, put it on at 8 am- the prime drive time audience. We are hopeful that many will find their way to our blog, and will get a chance to check out the link for HIS home for children. It would be awesome to overwhelm Chris and Hal with support.
We will hopefully get our completed translation today or monday, and then we are off to the Haitan consulate in Chicago!
Thanks for your prayers, we need them.
Geoff, Judy and the kids

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Welcome to our story!

Friends and family;

We find ourselves often these days reflecting on the abundant blessings of God. Not only what He has already given to us, but all that He has promised to His children who would follow Him. Psalm 119:17 states "Deal bountifully with your servant, that I might live and keep your word." What promise is contained here! God will give life- not just ordinary ho-hum life, but the life to the fullest that Jesus spoke of in John 10:10. How is this full life attained? By keeping His Word. The desire to experience this full life of obedience to God's Word, and the abundant blessing promised, led us to James 1:27, which says " Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
My wife Judy and I received the call to adopt in February of 2008. This surprised both of us, as we had thought that our family was complete with Sam (9), Megan (8) and Joshua (5). Judy had recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and we had just moved her parents into an assisted living facility. Our plates were full. However, God plans are not our plans. It was clear to us as we listened in obedience and began the process that God was directing us to go find a child that needed us, so we began to look in places that for one reason or another were not popular or favorable to adopt from. This led us to the country of Haiti, to a small orphanage in Port au Prince called HIS Home for Children. The orphanage is run by a couple from Ohio named Hal and Chris Nungester. Judy and I were inspired by their story of lives lived for the purpose of treasuring Jesus and living in obedience. We began the process of adopting a child from their orphanage. We had decided from the outset that we would take the first child that God sent our way, and He gave us a gift named Daphna. Daphna is a beautiful one-year old Haitian girl who was given up by her father after being abandoned by her mother. We fell in love with her immediately, and are thanking God for this wonderful child.
Judy and I had the opportunity to go to Haiti on Sept. 22-25 to meet our new daughter and to celebrate her first birthday with her, which was on Sept 24. Haiti has a very slow adoptive process, and we don’t anticipate bringing Daphna home with us for another two years. What a blessing to meet Daphna and spend four days with her. We were also privileged to spend two days at HIS Home with the Nungesters and their 120 children. This is where God gave us a second unexpected gift.
The first morning at the orphanage, I was handed Baby Grace to feed. Baby Grace was born sometime around Sept 1, 2008 with club hands and feet. She was found lying abandoned on a pile of garbage in Citie Soleil, the poorest slum in Port au Prince, abandoned there as trash to rot. Her mother had decided that this child was not fit to live. Grace’s umbilical cord was still attached. Through the “grace” of God, she was found by a single mother of 5 who picked her up and brought her to a mission agency, and through the working of the Hand of God and the people of God, Grace ended up at HIS Home on the morning we happened to be there. As I sat, feeding her a bottle, I felt the staggering reality that this child had been created every bit as much as I was in the image of God. She had been deemed unworthy to live because of deformity and economic circumstance while I had been blessed abundantly by being born into a country of opportunity. Who was I that I would receive such blessing while this child would suffer so greatly?
Needless to say, on that morning God began a work in the hearts of Judy and myself. He placed the name “Grace” in our hearts, and within a week of returning from Haiti, we had requested an addendum to our completed home study that would allow us to adopt a second child with special needs. We are currently in process of having Baby Grace officially referred to our family.
Here is where fish and bread comes into play. Jesus miracle was not just about providing lunch, it was about showing how He could take very little offered in faith and create overflowing abundance with it. He desires to take our meager resources and multiply them to bring glory to the Father. Through faith and obedience we had pursued the adoption of one child, Daphna. We are not wealthy people (blessed, but not rich). Through frugal living and hard work we had gotten to the financial point of being able to adopt Daphna without incurring any debt. The addition of Grace, especially with the special needs considerations, has pushed us beyond the point of ability to afford this adoption without help. We feel the call so strongly and clearly to proceed with the adoption of Baby Grace, so we are telling our story and waiting expectantly (Ps 5:3) for God to provide a means for this shortfall to be covered. We have peace knowing that all things are possible through Him.
So please pray for our family. Grace's full extent of medical issues is still not known, she will go through testing pre-adoption. There are some cardiac and syndrome type issues that are possible with her type of deformity. Pray that the paperwork process would go quickly; the sooner surgeries can take place the better. Pray for us as we wait, knowing that it is realistic that these girls will not be home to us for up to two years. Pray for Chris and Hal as they give their lives up as an offering to help the "least of these". Pray for the kids at HIS Home, that families and sponsers would be found for them. And pray for God's provision for us as we encounter current adoption costs and future medical costs.

In God’s “Grace”,

Geoff and Judy VanBerkel