Haitian orphans adjusting well to life in Knoxville

Haitian orphans adjusting well to life in Knoxville


6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - It has been almost a year since six orphans were flown from earthquake-devastated Haiti to Knoxville.

The children, five girls and one boy, were in the process of being adopted by families from Whitestone Church in Knoxville before the earthquake happened in January.

That process was accelerated after the earthquake hit.

Three of the children's mothers are talking about how life has changed since a new member joined their family.   

Benita, Islande and Valancia, three of the Haitian orphans, have adjusted well to life in East Tennessee.

"She's hit her stride," said Angie Zimmerman, who adopted Valancia. "She knows our rules. It's hit a good place now."

"I did not expect her to learn so quickly," said Carol Stout, who adopted Islande.

"She's just a blessing to everyone she's around," said Gina Rudd, who adopted Benita. "She's happy. She's positive so it keeps us positive."

All three moms say bringing a new child into their families was not easy, especially the first few months after they arrived.
"I would have to say the first couple of months was the language barrier," said Stout. "There were times that I wanted to share my feelings with her, or wanted her to share her feelings with me, when she was sad, or whatever, and she couldn't."

However, the three girls have picked up English quickly. They all were able to communicate well after only six months.

The girls are still very shy. When asked if she likes living in Knoxville, Benita Rudd said, "I love it."   

Language was not the only challenge.

"She came to us at age 12, and we had our others from babies. They were biological so a lot is the training, teaching them how to get long, and respond to people and be social," Zimmerman said.

Islande Stout says her favorite American food is "Arby's." Her mom added, "She loves Arby's."

These adoptions are not going to be the last for members at Whitestone Church. There are four families who are adopting more children from Haiti.

Seeing their new daughters grow has made these moms think about their future. "I cannot wait to see what she is going to be," Zimmerman said.

"I always tell her, not matter what she wants to do she can do it," said Rudd. "I'm proud of her. She does her best at everything, and no matter, I've always said this, no matter what we do here, it's a better life then what they will ever have in Haiti."

These moms say their new daughters make their families complete.    

This will not be the last adoption for the Rudd family. They are adopting another girl named Gladis. She should be in Knoxville by January.

Whitestone Church members have been helping fund orphans in Haiti for years. During the earthquake, one of the orphans was killed.

They recently got 18 new girls who they will help provide basic needs for.

If you would like to help Whitestone Church with the work in Haiti, visit the website for more information.    

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