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15 November 2012

November is National Adoption Month: Tragedy Remakes a Family

USCIS strives to raise awareness about the adoption of children, both within the United States and abroad, and, this November, celebrates the citizenship of hundreds of children in special ceremonies across the nation. The Beacon will feature three separate blog posts this month to share the unique stories of children and families who have bonded through intercountry adoption.

This week we feature Robin and Mike Shahan who adopted their son, Fred, from Haiti.

The first news headline that came up on my computer was: “7.0 quake hits Haiti; 'Serious loss of life' expected." That line will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Our family mourns the lives lost during that horrible day in Haiti. We also give thanks that our young son's life was spared. When our son Fred entered the United States, he was just a week away from his first birthday. He was tiny, only 13 pounds, malnourished, and sick with giardia, ringworm, and a number of other illnesses. After the earthquake Freddy had lived outside with minimal food and water for nearly six days with other children from his orphanage. It was a miracle he was still alive. By allowing him to enter our country with humanitarian parole, the United States government saved his life. We thank USCIS; the Office of Refugee Resettlement; and the field office director for the USCIS field office at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince; the selfless caregivers at his orphanage; among countless other compassionate individuals.

Freddy Shahan with little sister Riley
Freddy Shahan with little sister Riley

Fred has come a long way since his first birthday, and is growing in leaps and bounds. Despite the myriad of challenges he has had to overcome in his young life, Freddy has developed into a funny, athletic, smart, caring, and loving little boy who is quickly approaching his fourth birthday. Since joining our family, Fred has also become an older brother to a little sister named Riley. He is a wonderful big brother and the two are inseparable. It is hard to believe how far we have come since that fateful day in January 2010. We feel beyond blessed to have our son Fred in our family forever.



At November 15, 2012 at 4:28:00 PM EST , Anonymous Deb said...

What a great story! Love hearing outcomes like this.

At November 16, 2012 at 8:32:00 AM EST , Blogger Mirah Riben said...

The title of this article is true: every adoption begins with a tragedy.

It behooves those truly seeking to do charitable, altruistic acts to find ways to PREVENT tragedies that separate families. The tens of thousands of dollars eont to "rescue" one child - who may or may not truly be an orphan - who may even have been kidnapped to meet a demand - does nothing to ameliorate the poverty of his family, his siblings left behind, or his village or nation.

You can instead help them ALL through charities such as SOS for Children, Children's Christian Fund, UNICEF and others that work to provide families and villages with water, schools, and medical care.

You can also foster or adopt U.S. children from foster care - far less expensive and truly needed!

Ninety percent of children in orphanages worldwide are NOT orphans but have at least one living parent. People all over the world use orphanges to provide food, education and health care they cannot afford but they do not intend to have their children permanelty taken from them. Such was the case with the two children adopted by Madonna.

If there were truly the millions of orphans some claim, why would children be kidnapped and trafficked for adoption to meet a demand that outstrips the "supply" causing nations like Guatemala and others stop international adoptions?

Adoption is not a win-win. It is very mich a win-lose - a trade-off of economic advantages for loss for the original exploited families and their sought after, commodified children.

You can choose to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Every international adoption increases the demand that creates and propogates child trafficking for adoption!

Mirah Riben, author, THE STORK MARKET: America's Multi-Billion Dollar Unregulated Adoption Industry

At November 16, 2012 at 10:17:00 AM EST , Anonymous Candace Pruett said...

I'll never forget the scene at the Pittsburgh Children's Hospital the day the children from Haiti arrived - with Fred among them.Humanitarian parole saved the lives of many children that week. Thank you for telling their story.

At November 16, 2012 at 11:56:00 PM EST , Blogger Eileen said...

Robin and Michael, you are two very special people! I worked with Freddy for the first year after the earthquake. He looks so happy and healthy and soooo intelligent. He is definitely matched with the perfect family, you are all very blessed! I am so glad that we will continue to keep in touch, it is such an awesome experience watching Freddy grow up!
He has the perfect forever family!


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