We witness a miracle each time a child enters a life. But those who must make their journey home across time and miles, growing in the hearts of those waiting to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny. And placed among us by God's own hands.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Medical Visa Denied, Please Help!

Picture from Tony Czech 1/11
 It is time for me to speak up. To speak up on behalf of a amazing little girl who needs our help. I feel like doing more then speaking up, I feel like shouting from the mountain tops of Colorado! So here I go..... Let me introduce you to Vanessa. Her name is the same as that of a beautiful butterfly genius and I believe that she is destined for great things. I believe that just as a butterfly goes through metamorphosis, Vanessa's body will be changed and healed by a miracle. You see Vanessa was born with a physical disability that is becoming progressively worse with age. It is called Blount's disease and at age 9 her legs are so bowed out from the knees on down that she cannot walk normally or for more then a few very short distances. In fact when we saw Vanessa on our trip to Haiti in June of 2010 she was not walking at all. She was in a extreme amount of pain from the pressure on her joints and was only able to crawl or pull herself around. My husband put together a wheelchair for her that the orphanage had stored away, but the size of the chair was way to large for her and not at all appropriate to independently maneuver around the orphanage grounds. I do have a picture of her legs which shows the extreme nature of her disability, but out of respect to Vanessa I am not posting it here.

From the time that I first met Vanessa I was struck by her beauty, personality and strength. She was brought out to join a counseling session that I was doing with a small group of school age girls, who were showing signs of trauma after the earthquake. I took time to get to know each girl and to do some play therapy. Then the issue of the earthquake came up. Some of the girls could not talk about it without crying, but Vanessa very bravely looked at me and shared her story. She was living at a school for special needs children when the earthquake happened. She explained to me that the school building collapsed on her and she was buried but three days later a miracle happened when she was pulled from the rubble alive. I asked her if she was afraid and she told me no because her friends and Jesus were with her. I later learned that she was the lone survivor. I am sharing this with you because I believe in fate. I believe that Vanessa is going to do something amazing with her second chance at life. But, she needs a little help from us to reach that full potential.

On my trips to several third world countries, it is the images of the disabled children and adults who haunt me the most. Life is hard enough when you live in poverty, but it is even harder when you are disadvantaged by a mental or physical disability. To often disabled children are abandoned or hidden away, only to become beggars on the street if they survive. Thankfully this has not been the case for Vanessa however without treatment her life will be very limited. The frustrating thing is that Blount's disease is something that we don't see much of in the United States. That is because if Vanessa had been born in the US she would have received braces and therapy to correct her legs as a toddler age child. If that did not work she would have received surgery as a young child. These things are not options in Haiti where even basic medical care is a privilege. And so it is that Vanessa at age 9 has never known anything other then her physical disability. From the loving care that she has received at Maison orphanage she is now stronger then she was in June and is actually walking on her bowed legs. This not at all ideal however. The amount of pressure that is placed on her hip and knee joints is causing damage and I am told that at some point she will no longer be able to continue walking. If she gets much older it will be to late to perform the needed surgery to straighten her legs and reconstruct her knees. Even now at this age the corrections from the surgery may not be permanent, but the sooner the surgery is performed the more likely that it will be successful.

So here is where you and I come into play. When we met Vanessa in June we approached with a offer to FHG that we were ready, willing and able to care for and house Vanessa should she be able to come to the US for surgery. We live about one hour from the Denver Children's Hospital and work even closure. A physician was contacted at Children's, then the appropriate committee and one thing after another fell into place. We even have a organization that has a refurbished wheelchair picked out and waiting for Vanessa. We bought another bed at our house, picked up some more girl clothes and talked to our kids. Over the course of the last 7 months everything has been prepared for Vanessa to receive this life changing surgery.

So why am I writing this today, why am I yelling from the mountains of CO? At 8am this morning Vanessa had her visa appointment with the US Embassy in Port au Prince, Haiti and she was denied! Yes that is right, all the paperwork was in place and there she was and she was denied. The reason given was none aside from a form letter stating that she did not qualify for a US visa. Well, that is NOT acceptable to me. I will not accept that from my government and I will not give up hope for this child. A physician has examined Vanessa in Haiti and stated that she needs to receive surgery in the US. The procedure that she requires is complex, painful, and will require extensive post-operative care and follow-up.

So if you are out there reading this and you have any contacts, information  or resources that will assist us please help! We are researching the next steps and I will be in process of contacting our state Senators and Congressman. Please also contact your own representatives so that we can obtain as much attention for Vanessa as possible. If you can, please spread the word to others who may be able to help. Feel free to pass on this blog post, tell your friends or do some of your own screaming from a mountain top. And please pray, pray that Vanessa will not loose hope herself. You see she had some idea of what was happening when she excitedly made her trip to the US Embassy today (being carried in by the owner of the orphanage) and was then denied hope for her miracle. Please join with me in keeping that hope alive for this child who has already survived so much!

******If you have information or would like to offer assistance please drop a comment to me with your contact information and let me know if you would like your contact information to remain private from this blog. All comments come to my email first before I approve them for posting on the blog. 
Image from Angie K at Vanessa's 9th birthday in Haiti


  1. Kari,

    The only thing I can offer is prayer.

    Keep fighting, she will get what she needs.


  2. This is heartbreaking. So frustrating. I am praying for a miracle. Thank you for fighting for this precious little girl!

  3. I just found your blog! I am in a similiar situation! We have been trying to get a medical visa for a Haitian child with club feet. Denied in Dec...no real reason given. Reapplied...in Jan. neither denied or granted! They wanted proof of other children that came to the US and returned to Haiti. Everything they asked for was then provied. Still waiting...last told that we should seek care in Haiti while they validate the proof of other visas. We are also contacting senators etc..not much luck so far. Have you made any more progress?