It’s been only 5 days since Hurricane Katrina demolished the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. I, like the rest of the world, watch in horror the news of New Olreans being 80% underwater. The only difference between me and other viewers is that New Orleans is ….or was…my family’s home. We escaped just hours before Katrina hit. It took us 14 hours in heaving traffic to reach safety. It may seem incredible to those reading this, but I feel lucky in many ways. We had somewhere to go. We have a roof over our heads and food. Like everyone else from this part of the country, our minds and hearts are struggling to grasp the impossible: Our city is gone. Our neighbors, our homes, our way of life….it is all gone.
But in the midst of these thoughts, in the confusion and horror, I realize that how fortunate I am. My family is safe and together. But there are many who have lost something that only other adoptive families can understand. There are, within the midst of all those suffering, seven families that I would like you to know about…and ask you to help.
Many of you remember an article I wrote in July about hosting Dima, and 8-year-old boy from Russia. It was with great joy that I was able to share our journey of hosting Dima and in the end all 9 children found families in the New Orleans area. Those families became very close and supportive during the hosting experience, and it is no surprise that we have kept in touch during the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Last night it suddenly hit me, as I held my sobbing friend in my arms, that most of these families will not be able to complete the adoptions of the children they have come to love.
My friend’s name is Lisette Daigle. Her extended family has generously taken in my husband, myself, our 5 children and our very large golden retriever. Last night Lisette found out that her house lost its roof and has flooded. Her husband’s business is damaged and he is in a suburb of New Orleans now trying to repair it so that he can get back to work. All that loss, and her main painful concern is how will they ever be able to afford to adopt Nikita, the 6 year old boy they hosted in July and now love with all their hearts. “He is my son.” She told me last night. “He is my son and now I may never see him again.”
Lisette is not alone….another family, Karen Fontana and her daughter Katya, hosted an 8 year old girl, Nastia. Nastia was glued to “Mama Karen” for 2 solid weeks while being hosted. Karen and Katya completely lost their home. It is submerged. The hurricane also swept away Karen’s law office where she works as a lawyer. In an email Karen told me, “there is a legal term for what is happening. It’s called “bankruptcy”. At the end of Karen’s email she told me, “I know we will find a place to live. We’ll rebuild. But how can I bring my daughter home? I had a loan but now it all must go to simply surviving.”
Each of the families has their own stories. I have heard from 3 now who have lost their homes and all possessions. Two other families seem to have faired much better….but they do not know if their employers have faired as well. In the end, we will all rebuild our lives….maybe here, maybe somewhere else. But for these families, their loss is much greater and hard to see. They are losing hope.
So many of my readers have written asking what they can do for families in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I know this is an unusual request, but I am asking you to give these families back their hope. To them, the children they hosted are their daughters and sons. These children had to return to Russia, but are waiting in hope that their mama and papas will come for them. All of these families have already paid their agency fees, have completed homestudies and are well on their way through the process. What they need now is the funds to complete their adoptions.
The children were brought to Louisiana by Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency. I am asking that donations be sent directly to Nightlight, which is a non-profit agency (your donation is tax deductable). Please put a note with your donation stating that it is for Louisiana Adoptive Families 100% of your donations will go to helping these families bring home the children they have already grown to love.
I thank you. Donations may be sent to:
Nightlight Christian Adoptions
Hurricane Katrina Relief
801 East Chapman Avenue
Fullerton, California 92831
****Pictures show are of host children with families hoping to adopt them. Families pictured have had homes destroyed or severely damaged.