Three-year-old girl finally joins adoptive family
By Neale McDevitt
Amidst the tragedy and devastation of post-earthquake Haiti comes a story of hope. The Jan. 28 edition of The Reporter carried an article by Jim Engle-Warnick, a professor in the Department of Economics, in which he told readers about he and his wife’s frustrating attempts to get their three-year-old adoptive daughter Esther out of Haiti in the days and weeks following the earthquake.
The good news is Esther is safe and sound in Montreal now.
“When Esther arrived she was malnourished, had a swollen abdomen and an ear infection, and was too small to register on the Canadian growth charts,” said Engle-Warnick. “For the first 24 hours, she barely made a sound. Then she started saying some words in Creole. Now, she babbles and smiles constantly. She repeats words in French and English. Whenever she leaves to go to another room she waves and says ‘bye-bye, a demain.’”
In the two weeks Esther has been in her new home, Engle-Warnick has seen the emergence of her personality, calling her both “bold” and “determined.”
The budding relationship between Esther and her new five-year-old brother Max is particularly touching. “Max has been wonderful,” said Engle-Warnick. “For years [during the adoption process], we have had a candle on our dining room table for Esther, which Max would blow out after dinner while saying, ‘Goodnight Esther, I love you.’ Now that her empty seat is filled, he is teaching her to stay at the table until she is done eating and helping her play with toys.
“He has yet to convert her to being a New Orleans Saints fan,” said Engle-Warnick. “I kind of think she’s more of a Pittsburgh Steelers type.”
While the family is waiting for the results from a battery of tests done on Esther by the international adoption clinic at Sainte-Justine Hospital, she is getting stronger each day. “Her belly is much healthier looking and her ear infection is gone,” said Engle-Warnick.
“We’re thrilled that our daughter is with us, and are excited to see what kind of person she becomes. Now that she is here, everything is so much easier.”