Carbondale couple adopts Haitian children
For three years, Lindsay and Hadley Hentschel’s kids saw their parents-to-be only a few times a year. At an orphanage in Haiti, Mykerson and Leander pored over photos of their adoptive family and the Hentschels’ Carbondale home, while pictures of the pair were shown around back in Colorado.
Last week, their wait came to an end. Lindsay, Hadley, Mykerson, now 6, and Leander, 4, were met at Denver International Airport by a whole contingent of family and friends. Some the boys had already met, and the rest they knew from pictures. Since their return to Carbondale, the Hentschels have been unable to leave the house without receiving congratulations and well wishes.
“Everywhere we go there’s always people coming up wanting to say ‘hi’ and introduce themselves,” said Hadley.
There’s a lot of excitement and relief. It’s been a long, hard road, and the community has followed the pair’s struggle through their blog, http://hentschels.blogspot.com.
The Hentschels have planned on adopting since before they married in 2002. Lindsay’s high school best friend was adopted from El Salvador. The pair taught side by side at Roaring Fork High School and have made several trips teaching abroad. They were always on the lookout for the right source for adoption.
On Christmas of 2007, Hadley gave Lindsay a copy of “Angels of a Lower Flight,” a book about Haitian orphans by local author Susie Scott Krabacher.
“I basically handed the book back and said, ‘Read it, this is where we’re adopting from,’” Lindsay recalled.
At the time, authorities in Haiti allowed out-of-country adoption to couples that had been married at least five years and with at least one parent over 30. When Hadley had his birthday in 2009, they initiated the process. By the end of the year, they’d put together a dossier to send to Haiti.
On Jan. 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti near its capital in Port-au-Prince. In the chaos and subsequent recovery, adoption paperwork was low on the government’s priority list. It took nearly a year for the initial paperwork to be accepted and the Hentschels to make their first trip to Haiti. They met the boys in December 2010.
“They’ve basically been together for three years,” observed Lindsay. “They know they’re brothers.”
Since then, there have been a series of holdups.
For a while, the government refused to sign off on any adoptions that didn’t meet the letter of a 1970s law that required no biological children, 10 years of marriage, and a parent at least 35 years old. “Basically nobody fit that criteria,” Lindsay observed.
While they waited for someone willing to sign a dispensation, the pair made several trips to Haiti. They also connected with other parents through a Facebook group, and were able to send snacks, pictures and other small items. Mykerson started school in January 2011, and the Hentschels visited in August the same year. In March 2012, Lindsay’s mother Carol joined them for another trip. Hadley and Lindsay spent two months that summer teaching English at the orphanage and living with the kids. Leander started school that fall. Lindsay’s sister and mother both joined the next trip over Christmas.
Following political restructuring, things begin to move again. Mykerson and Leander officially became the Hentschels’ when the paperwork was finalized in June 2013. A passport error pushed back the tentative travel date of October, and the whole family finally departed Haiti on March 28.
Since arriving in the valley, the kids have been issued library cards in Carbondale, gone bowling in El Jebel, and swum at the Glenwood Hot Springs. They go biking almost every day.
Leander and Mykerson are fairly shy when they’re out and about, but at home they’re energetic and social. They jump on their bunk bed, show off their “Very Hungry Caterpillar” themed room, and present their parents with plastic food.
Mykerson is enjoying “cooking,” watching movies, and playing with all his new toys — some of which were Lindsay’s when she was young. Leander says he likes having clothes of his own. At the orphanage, even garments sent by prospective parents ended up on any child who fit in them.
There are other adjustments. It snowed shortly after the Hentschels arrived, and the brothers rushed out to investigate without bundling up. “That lasted about 10 seconds,” Hadley recalled.
Climate aside, Carbondale’s culture is a big step from the insular Baptist orphanage where the kids grew up. One of their favorite English phrases is a surprised “What!?” — a common reaction to mom wearing pants and driving the car or dad doing the cooking.
The kids learned French in school and are working on English, but their conversation has a lot of Haitian Creole mixed in. Lindsay studied some ahead of time using a computer program called BYKI, and both parents have picked a lot up from their sons.
“I speak toddler Creole,” Lindsay observed. “I might be mispronouncing things if they taught me wrong.”
Until the boys start school at Crystal River Elementary on April 21, their parents will be around to help with the adjustment. Hadley took a leave from his duties as a high school biology teacher, and Lindsay was able to take some time off from her current position as Secondary Instructional Facilitator for the Roaring Fork School District.
“It’s unending fun, at least for now,” said Hadley.
“They like to go out. It’s an age that they’re learning, anyway,” observed Lindsay. “It’s been nice to see people so immediately accepting,” she added.
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