Children of the Promise, HAITI

Friday, February 26, 2010

KSTP TV - Our Reese is home!!

Here is the link to the article with video.

MN mother, new adopted son back from Haiti

Sarah Thacker, who traveled to Haiti to bring six orphans to the U.S., is thankful to be back in Minnesota with her family and her new adopted son, Reese.

"I'm just filled with joy and thankful to God to help us get us all out," Thacker said.

Haitian police stopped Thacker on Saturday as she was leaving Haiti with the adopted children, Thacker said.

"They started attacking saying, 'Who are you? We want to see their adoption papers,'" Thacker said.

Even after the U.S. Embassy got involved, Haitian police detained Thacker for nine hours, Thacker said.

"We never thought they'd take the kids from us so that was the worst part of it," Thacker said.

Earlier this week, Thacker was reunited with Reese, Thacker said.

"He came running into my arms and basically hasn't left since," Thacker said.

On Wednesday, Thacker and the Haitian children arrived in Miami where the other five orphans connected with their adoptive families, Thacker said.

For the Thackers, they have already inducted Reese as member number five of their family.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CNN Report - They are on their way home ~ Praise God!!

Here is direct link.

Orphans set to leave Haiti with American women

February 24, 2010 2:05 a.m. EST

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- Six Haitian orphans, seized by national authorities last week as they prepared to journey to the United States, will be able to leave the earthquake-devastated country Wednesday.
The U.S. Embassy retained custody of the children Tuesday and they were handed over to three American women who have been trying to escort them out.
The women had attempted to leave Saturday when angry Haitians demanded to see their paperwork. Police suspected that a key document the women were carrying -- a permission signed by Haiti's prime minister -- was a fake, something the women and U.S. officials deny.
There is no chance the paperwork is fake, said Sarah Thacker, one of the three women. Thacker, from Minnesota, was in Haiti to bring home her newly adopted son.
Police did not arrest the women, but temporarily placed the children under government custody at a local orphanage.

The women said Tuesday that they had been given permission to take the children to the United States. The women were staying with the children at a friend's house in Port-au-Prince.

The incident came nearly a month after the arrest of 10 U.S. missionaries accused of trying to take 33 Haitian children out of the country without proper paperwork. Eight of them have been released on bail and have returned to the United States.
The question of Haitian children being removed from the country illegally came to the foreground after a magnitude-7.0 earthquake devastated parts of the country on January 12. Authorities feared that children left on their own -- because their parents died or they were separated from them -- would be targeted by child traffickers.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has backed Thacker's efforts.
"They have filled out all the paperwork," she said. "This is a legitimate orphanage that has brought other children to America. And I feel like these little babies are just caught up in this international dispute, and it's just not fair."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Here is the article CNN that aired last night at 9pm central time.

Link to article

Woman questioned over Haitian orphans

From Gary Tuchman, CNN
February 23, 2010 6:55 a.m. EST
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- Six Haitian orphans, at the airport and on their way to new lives in the United States, had their destination changed at the last moment. Now they are at an orphanage, under the custody of the Haitian government, while the details of their departure are sorted out.
Sarah Thacker, a Minnesota woman who was in Haiti to bring home her newly adopted son, now finds herself facing allegations that the paperwork she held was forged. Thacker and two other women who helped her were not arrested, but are the subject of the incident that follows the arrests of 10 U.S. missionaries accused of taking a group of Haitian children out of the country without the proper paperwork.
All 10 were charged with trying to take 33 children out of Haiti without any legal authorization after a magnitude-7.0 earthquake devastated the country on January 12. Eight of them have been released on bail and have returned to the United States.
Thacker and the two other women were going to escort six Haitian orphans to the United States to new families, including Thacker's adopted son, Reese.
"I can understand paranoia and absolutely, and I understand there was a story about people illegally taking children out of the country, but fear doesn't justify these actions," Stephanie Anderson, a volunteer who was helping Thacker, told CNN.
On Saturday, the three women were outside the Port-au-Prince airport waiting in line to transport the children in a private plane when, Anderson says, they were surrounded by an angry mob of men demanding to see their paperwork.
"They started screaming at us that they are Haitian children, and who do we think we are taking their kids from their country, and these missionaries can't be stealing kids, and they started swearing and yelling at us," Anderson, who is not a missionary, said.
The police were called in and the women were detained for eight hours, they told CNN.
Full coverage of the earthquake's aftermath
The key document -- a permission signed by Haiti's prime minister -- was suspected as a fake by police, something the women and U.S. officials deny.
There is no chance the paperwork is fake, Thacker said.
A representative from the U.S. Embassy was with them during their ordeal and, in the end, police did not arrest the women but decided that the children would at least be temporarily placed in government custody.
"I was scared. It was my job to protect those children and I didn't feel I could protect them when I was being harassed," said Maria O'Donovan, who lives in Haiti and works at the orphanage where Reese and the other five children lived.
CNN made attempts to reach the Haitian prime minister without success.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is backing Thacker's efforts.
"They have filled out all the paperwork. This is a legitimate orphanage that has brought other children to America. And I feel like these little babies are just caught up in this international dispute, and it's just not fair," she said.

WCCO news

Here is the news clip that aired last night at 10pm. This is a local MN news group. Jamie VenOsdel is the daughter of Bud and Jan Bonnema who started Children of the Promise.

Here is the link directly to the article. There is a video on the right hand side.

Haiti Adoptions Arranged By Minn. Group Hit Snag

PRINSBURG, Minn. (WCCO) ― The youngsters came as infants to Children of the Promise. Most were abandoned and seriously ill. They've been nursed back to health.

The hearts of two Minnesota families waiting for months to adopt children from Haiti broke over the weekend when they never showed up.

The six babies and toddlers were escorted by volunteers from a Minnesota adoption organization to the airport Saturday.

The children were leaving with volunteers to meet their adoptive parents in Florida. Just as they were about to board, they say they were stopped and detained by Haitian police.

"A group of Haitians came up to them and started yelling, kind of riding. They were very in-their-face, telling them they were trafficking the children," said Jamie VanOsdell, daughter of Children of the Promise's Executive Director.

Detained for hours at the police department, the children were eventually taken to a tent camp. Volunteers from the Children of the Promise organization were prevented from staying with them.

"The children didn't know what was going on, they're 3-and-a-half and under, so it was very confusing for them," said VonOsdel. "It's heartbreaking to see the kids just sitting there, not being with their families."

The youngsters came as infants to Children of the Promise. Most were abandoned and seriously ill. They've been nursed back to health.

"That's what they've been used to. We just keep trying to give them the best care we can. It's really hard for us to see our kids going through that," said VonOsdel

Senator Amy Klobuchar and the U.S. State department are working to fix the situation as parents anxiously wait.

"Everything we were doing was legal. We had the Prime Minister signed off on the papers, everything signed off. There was no reason that they shouldn't be with their parents right now," said VonOsdell.

The goal of Children of the Promise is to first reunite the Haitian children they care for with family members there.

The staff and volunteers wish those who mistakenly thought the children were kidnapped would have done research on the organization, which has arranged family adoptions for 10 years.

Monday, February 22, 2010

CBS local Miami news

Here is an article done about one of the boys and his family. Please pray!!

(direct link for video)

Unintended Consequences Hitting Haitian Children

MIAMI (CBS4) ―The challenge of adopting orphans from Haiti is growing more difficult after a group of Americans were arrested last week for trying to take children out of the country illegally. Joshua and Katy Manges believe they are paying the consequences for a crime they had nothing to do with.

The Manges family has been working to adopt a special needs child named Malachi for two and a half years now. "He was born in our hearts I mean from the moment we saw him he was ours," recalled Katy Manges.

Last week they received word that the Prime Minister of Haiti had signed the paper for Malachi's humanitarian parole. He would be flying into Miami on Friday. Friday came and went and Malachi never arrived. Leaving several families just like the Manges' heartbroken. They all received word that something went terribly wrong as the orphanage escort was bringing their children to the embassy for their final paperwork.

"A mob formed; a bunch of men got it in their head that the white escorts were stealing the black children and this was human trafficking so they started a big, almost a riot," said Joshua Manges. "Police were called in and detained all the escorts and children."

The families have learned those children were taken away from their orphanage escort and put in a tent city in earthquake ravaged Port au Prince. "In a UNICEF tent with no adults, no diapers, no supplies, very little food and the older children in this tent are actually taking care of them," said Katy Manges. "It's not safe. It's not right. They are legally free to come to us, and the Haitian Police have done this."

The orphans in question are from Cape Haitian, a Haitian city untouched by the earthquake. Now, all of them are living in the heart of ground zero (Port-Au-Prince), dealing with a tragedy they likely knew nothing about.

The kids were supposed to be on the same flight together and now all of their American parents are holed up in Miami turning to each other for support and hoping/praying their children will still be allowed to fly to the U.S.

"You know you were afraid of human trafficking, so you kidnap children to make that better," said Joshua Manges. "That doesn't make the situation better; that makes it worse. And you know these children have families that are waiting for them and love them and in our case need medical care."

Malachi has deformities in his hips. He's taught himself to walk but that could end up damaging him if he doesn't get medical attention soon. Doctors waiting on him here in the U.S. fear if he keeps walking; he could lose his ability to walk for good.


On Saturday, 6 of our children along with the parent/escort of one of the children, another a couple other escorts and Maria all flew to Port au Prince after being notified by U.S. Embassy staff that their paperwork to leave Haiti was complete including the signature of the Haitian Prime Minister.
They arrived at the airport and were sitting in the waiting room waiting for the Embassy staff to come so they could board their charter plane. Before the Embassy staff arrived, they were verbally attacked by a large group of Haitians who were at the airpot accusing them of trafficking children and kidnapping. These Haitians knew nothing about our group or the children, they simply attacked. The children were terrified as well as the adults. These Haitians called the police and our children and staff were taken, illegally, to a police station where they were held for hours. The U.S. Embassy staff were immediately on this situation, but as in all things in Haiti, it took time. By the end of the day, our children were brought to a Haitian approved creche, which turned out to be a refuge tent city with no bottles or supplies for our babies. Our staff was forced to leave them there while they went to the apartment of a friend of COTP, a pediatrician. Maria offered to give up her passport to prove that she would not try to leave with the children, just so she could sleep near them so they wouldn't be afraid. The Haitians refused to let her.
Maria and escort returned the following morning to find that our 6 children were ok, but not getting the care that they need. Embassy staff worked all day at trying to get our children released back to our staff, but to no avail. Late in the afternoon word must have gotten to CNN and they contacted us, then talked with Maria and the mom/escort of one of the children.
Our children have all the legal papers approved by the U.S. government and that Haitian Prime Minister's signature that allows them to join their parents who are waiting in Florida. Our Senator Klobuchar from MN is actively working on this in addition to the U.S. government staff in Haiti.
The adults might not have been kept in custody, but our children are being held in a place with standards far beneath COTP's, without enough supplies. They are traumatized. And they are, by law, still legally under the guardianship of COTP until we hand them over to their parents. This is wrong in more ways than can be imagined.
CNN will air this story sometime today. They are going to get footage of the kids.
Please pray that our children will be with their parents as soon as possible!
by: Jan Bonnema
ps. There are hardly any adults anywhere. It is the older kids that are caring for our children. Maria and escort were only able to visit a few hours yesterday.

Where our kids are sleeping

Where are kids play

Two of our kids napping in their "beds".
 No bottles for our baby.
Maria with the kids in the "play tent"

Again, no bottles. Its almost mostly kids caring for our children.

Where our kids sleep.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Small update on kids leaving.

Ever since January 12th, when the earthquake hit, things have been very chaotic. The biggest change we have seen at COTP is all the children going to their adoptive families. We have had a total of 3 go to Canada and 23 go to the US and 3 to the US for medical treatment. We have another 7 waiting to join their adoptive families and 3 for medical treatment. Nearly every time it was time for a child to leave it was very rushed. The children did not get to have their usual "going away" party. Our long-term volunteers and Haitian nannies didn't get the time to say goodbye to the children, but they are all thrilled that they are home with their families and hopeful that the remaining 7 will be able to join their families soon. Here are a few photos of the quick good-byes and a few from one of the numerous trips to Port-au-Prince with the kids.
Nannies saying goodbye to Fabienne

Jamie Saying goodbye to Mari

Jude and Christy in the truck heading out

Owen saying "goodbye" to his friend Alix

Eli saying "goodbye" to a nanny

The nannies loving on and saying "goodbye" to Chelda. They were SO excited for her as she has waited a long time. 

Jenny giving goodbye kisses to Sasia. 

Jamie bringing Richard and Sasia to the truck to leave. 

Woodson THRILLED to finally be going home.

Fabienne getting goodbye kisses from her friend Mika.

Jamie loading Mari in the truck getting ready to leave. 

UN Helicopter

Mickenson with an escort (Calvin)
Escort, Calvin, with Johnson, Albert, Maranatha, and Reese ready to get on the plane for PAP.
Albert, Maranatha, Johnson, and Reese waiting in the airport

Escort, Calvin, with Maranatha, Johnson, Mickenson, and Maria

All the kids waiting at the airport. 

One of the planes

Kids waiting in the shade of the wing. 

On the small plane. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Update on Children

Travis(Bud and Jan's oldest) headed to Cap-Haitien this morning on an Agape cargo flight. He'll help escort his children and 3 others to PAP and go the Embassy where they should get their travel papers. Pray that they can get a good flight out of PAP this evening. Four of the five children have been signed off by the Prime Minister. So Travis will hopefully be in Miami this evening with them. (the fifth will stay back with a different escort, until their papers are completed).

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Update on Bud

Bud is back home recovering well from side effects of the chemo, pneumonia in particular. One of his tests was encouraging in showing no active Hodgkin's lymphoma. He will need to restart chemo to make sure that they got all of it, but will take a break until Feb. 24.

Thank you for your prayers!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Note from Jan

10 of our children have finally landed in Miami! Last night they had to sleep in a shuttle bus in Port au Prince because the plane they were supposed to be on had problems. They are now going through processing in Miami for several hours. We are so thankful that they are now in the U.S. We are having a number of our other children being flown today from Cap-Haitien to Port au Prince today also. Hopefully they will be able to be seen at the Embassy soon and get approval to leave Haiti.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Note from Jan

Maria is headed to the Embassy with 10 of our kids and escorts. We are told they were signed out and should be able to fly to Miami today. PLEASE pray for their safety and they will be in the arms of their parents tonight!! Lot's of travel for them today.

Update on Children waiting to come home...

10 children in Port au Prince waiting for the Haitian P.M.(Prime Minister) to sign them out of the country. All their parents patiently waiting in Miami since Friday.  This could be such an exciting day for the children and their moms and dads!! Pray that this happens today!!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Some Donations being sent to COTP.   Praise God!


Prayer Request for Bud

As many of you know Bud Bonnema is fighting cancer.  He was scheduled for his next chemo treatment  at Mayo on Monday morning.  The last couple of days he has not been feeling well and when Jan called the Mayo clinic and told them the situation they wanted him to come to the Mayo today.  Please pray as Bud gets there today the doctors can figure out a way to make him more comfortable and ease the pain.  Bud and Jan are grateful for your prayers.

Click on Link to Find Out More.

Willmar Touching Haiti

Organized by Willmar Volunteers–
Received and Distributed by Willmar Volunteers in Haiti.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Note from Robin

The second small group heads to PAP today. Pray for safety, favor at the embassy and with P.M and for the kids to stay healthy. One little boy is sick and has to stay behind today and go tomorrow with the third small group.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Note from Marica Roorda

Out of the 24 children at Children of the Promise that have adoptive families waiting for them, 12 were approved by the State Department in the last 24 hours. 5 of those children will be flying on Agape Flights (we thank them profusely for their help through all of this!) from Cap Haitien to Port-au-Prince today. Maria O'Donovan, who we are so grateful to have back in Haiti, will be flying with them and has found a place for them to stay in PAP while they wait to get to the US Embassy. Many children are sleeping on the streets outside the Embassy as they wait. Once they get the paperwork from the Embassy it will go to the Haitian Prime Minister. Please pray that this goes as smoothly as possible and they are in the states and with their families by the end of the week. Tomorrow we are hoping to get another 5 - 6 children from CAP to PAP. Things are starting to roll and we really need your prayers for safety for our children, for supplying us with escorts to bring those children home, and for everyone in both the US government and the Haitian government to work quickly to make this happen. We have escorts flying from WA & MN into FL today to fly in with Agape tomorrow to help in PAP. There is a 10 passenger plane that can help us next Tues. with any others that get approved. Please also pray that ALL the rest of our adopted children receive their approval. Pleas also a prayer of thanksgiving for all the many, many people who have helped in so many ways!
Thank you so much for your prayers!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Update on Canada Kids

All three kids are with their parents and doing great. Praise God that they made it through to their families in Canada.