After the Devastating Haiti Earthquake He Noticed 13 Abandoned Kids, His Response Was Priceless

International   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Jan 16, 2015   |   1:04PM   |   Port-au-Prince, Haiti

In January 2010, People staff writer, Steve Helling, visited Haiti after a devastating earthquake hit killing thousands and leaving many children abandoned. During his time there, Helling worked at a clinic treating cholera-stricken infants and found out that 13 babies had been abandoned.

He was so moved by the experience that he decided to ask his wife, Emma, about adopting the abandoned infants. He told her, “If I could adopt all these kids, I’d do it.”

Her response was shocking. She said, “I’ve been looking into it. It takes a long time, but it can be done.”

stevehellingAt the time the couple had two biological children of their own and were planning to adopt two infants from a Haitian orphanage. However, by mid 2011, they decided to adopt four of the children.

People Magazine shares more:

The difficult process took more than two years. Finally, in December 2013, the Helling children came home – and the challenges really began. By then, the oldest child was 7; the youngest two were still in diapers. “The first weeks were a blur of extreme highs and lows,” Helling writes. “We struggled to meet the emotional needs of all six kids. We sometimes had trouble communicating. I packed on 30 lbs. and occasionally had trouble getting out of bed.”

The Hellings slogged through the first few months, hardly noticing that things had imperceptibly began to improve. The children learned English; they began to go to school. Their unique personalities began to emerge. More important, everyone began to bond.

On a family trip to the beach last July, Helling was hit with another moment of clarity. “Emma and I looked at each other. We were happy again,” he writes. “Our days were exhausting, but they felt like accomplishments rather than battles. We had successfully taken apart our family of four – and emerged as a family of eight.”

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As the Helling family begins their second year living together, Steve and Emma hope that they’ll be able to instill their values in all six of their children. “We took a leap of faith, and found the rewards far outweighed the sacrifices,” he writes. “Comfort is overrated; it’s sometimes necessary to take risks. We’re trying to teach that lesson to our kids.”

Before the 2010 earthquake 400,000 children (approximately one of ten children) were living in an orphanage, and every year the Haitian government approves 1,500 adoptions. Most of these adoptions occur through American and Canadian agencies and usually cost adoptive parents thousands of dollars. This is why it is critical that pro-lifers continue supporting adoption efforts, not only in the United States, but also around the world.