My great-niece, Maya Poulter, will be a guest on “Good Morning America” tomorrow, featured as one of the best stories from GMA’s 40 years on television. Nov. 12 update: The show aired this morning (their story is mentioned about the 3:00 mark of the ABC video and the studio interview begins at about the 7:00 mark).
I blogged several times about Maya and the GMA coverage of her story in 2010, when the show’s Robin Roberts helped find Maya among the wreckage and chaos there following the 2010 earthquake. My posts from that time are all linked at the end of this post. But the short version is that my niece, Mandy Poulter, and her husband, Matt, had completed the adoption process and were just waiting for Maya’s passport to bring her home to Iowa when the earthquake hit, devastating much of Haiti, including her orphanage. Of course, the wait to learn news about her and the exhilaration when Roberts found her, were a memorable story to our family. We’re glad they were as memorable, too, to GMA.
Maya and her parents are flying to New York today for tomorrow’s show, their segment scheduled to air in the 8 a.m. hour Central time.
I asked Mandy for an update for my blog:
We are beyond excited to go to New York and be on GMA. We are truly honored at the opportunity and Maya is very excited to meet Robin for the first time since Robin found her in Haiti.
Maya is doing wonderful! She has always been such a joy in our family. She is very quiet, kind, and compassionate. She absolutely loves taking care of her little brother and sister, playing games with them and reading books to them. She is very motherly. She is in fourth grade and turned 10 in August. Her favorite subjects are spelling, cursive writing and language. She runs track, will be starting basketball in December, and loves going to Sunday school and attending the Awana program at our church each week.
Maya absolutely loves birthdays. She gets so excited for anyone and everyone’s birthday, even our little dog’s birthday:). I think it is really special for her to think that there is a day set aside to celebrate someone. It is something she never had in Haiti and finally got to celebrate her 5th birthday with us here in the U.S. It was her first birthday presents, party and cake ever.
Maya loves to be outside riding her bike and jumping on the trampoline. She is also a very girly girl and enjoys painting her nails and getting her hair fixed.
In subsequent emails, Mandy said Maya likes to run the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races. Her mother and aunt, Missy Rock, were Iowa state champions (and collegiate stars, too) as distance runners. Her uncle, Andrew Rock, is an Olympic gold medalist, Bethel University track coach and former 400-meter specialist. Will be interesting to see if Maya carries on the family’s running tradition. “Uncle Andrew is pretty excited to have another 400 runner in the family,” Mandy reports.
A cousin adopted from Haiti
Mandy and Missy come from a rather remarkable family (other than me). They are two of three biological children of my younger brother. Don and Pam have also adopted 11 children from around the United States and the world.
The three biological children are married and growing their own families through childbirth and adoption, domestic and international. Luke, the middle of the biological children, and his wife, Kathy, adopted a child from Haiti after Mandy and Matt adopted Maya. Luke provided this update:
A lot of great things have happened with Trenton since he has been home the last two years. He is in first grade and is almost right on track, the school has set up ESL services for him, that he attends daily. He can communicate with ease now. Trenton is an eager learner at school and absolutely loves school. Trenton likes to draw and play with his little brothers.
In a family with lots of cousins, Trenton stands out to Maya. “She is so proud of him and thrilled to have a cousin from Haiti,” said Mandy. “They do have a very special bond.”
Waiting for a cousin from Congo
Another cousin of Maya’s remains in an orphanage in the Democratic Republic of Congo, awaiting government action to allow her and other Congolese orphans to leave for their adoptive homes. Missy and Andrew completed the adoption process for Tina. They are legally her parents in both Congo and the United States, but the DRC suspended all exit letters for foreign adoptions in 2013, before they could bring her home. As with the Haitian earthquake, the bureaucratic disaster in Congo happened at the worst possible time for a niece’s family.
The Minnesota family continues to wait for permission to go to Congo to pick up their adopted daughter. Missy provides this update:
She turned 6 in September And the DRC did allow 72 children to receive exit letters on November 2. 14 of those were US families. For the other 1,000 (400 US) children the DRC has said they will not discuss releasing any more of the children until they draft and put their new adoption laws in place. We also do not know yet if these laws will become retroactive and we would have to restart the whole adoption over.
My treatment for lymphoma the past year has forced me to cancel and turn down many travel opportunities for journalism conferences and training. One of the most difficult to turn down was an invitation to train journalists in Congo this week. If I had been able to travel, I would have made sure to visit Tina’s orphanage and bring some family love to her in person.
Maybe in its 41st year, “Good Morning America” will cover the adoption logjam in Congo and help Tina come home to meet Maya and her many cousins, aunts and uncles adopted from around the world.
If you’ve followed previous posts here about my family and wonder about relationships:
Brandon, who died in Afghanistan in 2012, was the second oldest of the adopted siblings of Mandy, Luke and Missy. I also have blogged about the two children of my sister, Carol, Patrick and Kat Devlin. I have written about my brother Dan here, but not about his children. But Mimi and I were delighted to host two of Dan’s adult children and their spouses in recent weeks, the first niece and nephew to visit us in our new home in Baton Rouge.
Family photos of Maya, her siblings and cousins: