By Celine Klosterman
The adopted Haitian daughter of a Kalona couple is a sweet, giggly, talkative 2-year-old who’s adjusting well to life in Iowa, said Lori Minor, her mother.
Lori and Bill Minor brought Claudia Noelle home Jan. 24 after flying to pick her up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on less than a day’s notice. After Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake, Claudia was among 18 children sent from Crèche Enfant de l’Jèsus, an orphanage about 10 miles east of Port-au-Prince, to Florida to meet their adoptive parents.
“We’re so surprised; she’s done just great,” Lori said. Though she arrived in the United States with pneumonia, antibiotics relieved her cough and fever. She now keeps busy playing with her favorite toys, especially a talking teapot; her “momma” and “poppa,” and the Minors’ two dogs including Toula, whose name was one of the toddler’s first words.
The couple has been teaching Claudia about God’s love, sharing with her an image of Jesus holding a 2-year-old child. Bill and Lori also look forward to Claudia’s baptism later this month at the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City.
At home, Claudia still clings to some habits she picked up in Haiti. “When she first came, if you gave her a Sippy cup with milk, she’d drink it all at once,” Lori said. At the orphanage, eating quickly helped young children guard their food from theft by older children. “We want to help her learn she’ll always have food to eat.”
Claudia’s parents also hope to help her catch up developmentally. “She’s not quite where a 2-year-old should be,” said Lori, who’s taken the rest of the school year off from her job as a school nurse.
But the Minors are glad simply to have their daughter home. “We were just sick because part of me felt like we were never going to get her, that all the paperwork was lost,” Lori said. But Claudia is safe thanks to who Lori described as a conscientious orphanage administrator; Chances for Children, the organization that runs the home; and a donor who paid for three helicopters to transport orphans to the Port-au-Prince airport. “We’re really fortunate we got her out when we did, because now the (Haitian) government has placed roadblocks” to future adoptions, Lori said.
Claudia is in the United States on a humanitarian visa, awaiting citizenship.
“I’m really thankful for everyone’s prayers,” Lori said. “I’m sure that made a difference.”