By Celine Klosterman
Next spring, more than 20 years after Bill and Lori Minor married, they hope they’ll finally be able to scoop their first child up in their arms.
The Kalona couple expects adoption proceedings to wrap up in May for a 19-month-old Haitian girl, who the Minors say is the child God wanted for their family all along.
“When we met her, we bonded with her immediately,” Lori said of Claudia Noelle, who she and Bill met last month. “We wondered, why did we wait so long? We think it’s because she was meant for us.”
“It was God’s timing, not ours,” Bill explained.
Lori said prayer was largely what helped the couple, who attend the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City, finally make the “leap of faith” to adopt. The two had thought of adoption for years, but wondered: Could they bond with a child not biologically theirs? Were nieces and nephews family enough?
The Minors approached an adoption agency for advice. They were told to simply start the adoption process, so last fall, after more prayer, they did.
“Now, we thank God every day” for Claudia, Bill said.
Despite having suffered from malnourishment and hepatitis B, she’s “such a sweet-natured” girl, Lori said. The Minors met her during a five-day trip in mid-August to Ti Mache, Haiti, where the orphanage Crèche Enfant de l’Jèsus houses about 70 children — most of whom Bill said have pending adoptions. Claudia’s biological parents, who have three other children, gave her up when she was a sick, several-month-old baby in hopes she’d have a better life than they could provide, Lori said.
“It’s sort of bittersweet for us,” she said. She and Bill are happy to have Claudia, but lament the poverty and scarcity Haitians like the child’s biological family face.
Lori said Claudia’s health has improved since the child entered the orphanage. Though malnourishment has stunted her development, she’s gaining weight, starting to walk and no longer testing positive for hepatitis B.
“It’s good to know she’s being taken good care of,” but it was still heartbreaking to leave Claudia at the orphanage last month, Bill said. The Minors hope to visit again for her second birthday in January and have been stocking up on toys and books, Lori said.
Bill said he’s looking forward to teaching Claudia about God, the English language and other topics and to being a role model. He hopes he, a 47-year-old construction manager, and Lori, a 45-year-old school nurse, will be able to devote much time to a child now that they’re settled in life. “We’ve had all our fun,” he joked.
He worries a bit that they’ll run into people intolerant of mixed-race families. But he hopes his family might inspire others considering international adoptions, and said everyone’s been supportive so far.
Lori said she and Bill are so fortunate for prayers and encouragement from supporters including a group of mostly Catholic mothers, the Chick-lits, in Iowa City.
“I think this was God’s will… we’re just so thankful we decided to go this way,” she said. “We just feel like Claudia’s the biggest blessing in our lives.”