Mar 2, 2010

Haiti’s quake is a blessing in disguise for one family

by Sasha Braithwaite

The devastating earthquake in Haiti had tragic consequences, but for junior Joshua Churchill and his family, it became a blessing in disguise.

The earthquake sped up a prolonged process that began three and a half years ago when Joshua Churchill’s parents, Robin and Beth Churchill from Nova Scotia, Canada, made the decision to adopt two Haitian children.

“Haiti is a place that has really been laid on my family’s heart,” Joshua Churchill said. “Myself and both my parents had been there prior to the adoption starting and one of my two sisters has been there since.”

The Churchills began working with the orphanage, God’s Littlest Angels (GLA), and after a year and a half, GLA matched them with Peterson, who was 6 years old at the time, and his biological sister Gaelle, 24 months. Their biological mother had brought them to the orphanage because she was unable to care for them.

“Children become available for adoption in Haiti primarily because of the extreme economic disadvantages of their birth families,” according to

The Churchills met all of the Canadian requirements for adoption and over the last two years their request to adopt has been in Haiti’s court systems to ensure that they met all of their requirements. However, when the earthquake happened Jan. 12, all of those requirements did not matter as much.

“The earthquake was the catalyst for the adoption, as space was needed wherever it could be had. So the Haitian government agreed to suspend some of their absolutely insane requirements in order to allow the children who had been in the process the longest to be adopted quickly,” Joshua Churchill said.

Finally on Jan. 27, two weeks after the earthquake hit, Robin and Beth Churchill picked up Peter and Gaelle at the airport in Ottawa, where they were joined as a family.

Beth Churchill kept a blog throughout the adoption process and continues to write about life with her new children. On her site, “Lilacs in Bloom” at, she posted several pictures of the children and gave details about their experiences, their progress with learning English, what they like and do not like as well as their abilities and talents.

“We’re constantly reminded how great it is the two kids have each other. They have lost so much in their short lives and yet they always have each other,” Beth Churchill wrote.

The Churchills keep a busy schedule with the children.

“(Robin Churchill) was determined to stay home full time once the kids arrived and just enjoy the experience. And what an experience. He takes the kids to their medical appointments, to the market, to the playground, to school for an evaluation, to playgroups. He gets up with Gaelle in the middle of the night and teaches Peter how to count money and do his math. He translates for the kids (and) for the rest of us,” Beth Churchill wrote in her Feb. 22 blog entry.

Joshua Churchill has yet to meet Peter, now 8, and Gaelle, 4. The children were adopted and flown to Canada after he returned to Liberty for the spring semester.

“I have not actually met them yet. Which is pretty much killing me,” he wrote. “I am extremely excited to get home and meet them.”

Contact Sasha Braithwaite at

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