Birmingham family brings baby 'Haven' home from Ethiopia - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Birmingham family brings baby 'Haven' home from Ethiopia

Haven with his mom Liza. Source: WBRC video Haven with his mom Liza. Source: WBRC video
Before and after photos of Haven. He was able to come home with the Kinsleys when he was six months old. Before and after photos of Haven. He was able to come home with the Kinsleys when he was six months old.
Haven with his mom Liza. Source: WBRC video Haven with his mom Liza. Source: WBRC video
Britton Lynn holds an alphabet book called "E is for Ethiopia," which the Kinsleys use to teach Haven about his birth country. Source: WBRC video Britton Lynn holds an alphabet book called "E is for Ethiopia," which the Kinsleys use to teach Haven about his birth country. Source: WBRC video
Haven's name means a "refuge" or "safe place." That's what his parents say they hope their family is for him. Source: WBRC video Haven's name means a "refuge" or "safe place." That's what his parents say they hope their family is for him. Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

The joy of bringing home a new baby is something unparalleled in this world, even if your new baby is already six months old and from another country.

Birmingham-based non-profit Lifeline Children's Services makes adoptions possible all over the world. Those efforts helped make the joy shared by the Kinsley family come to life.

Like most toddlers, two-year-old Haven loves playing with his sister, Story. And dancing. And he especially loves his "momma."

"He was probably a year old before he started saying 'momma'," said Haven's mother Liza Kinsley, who can barely get through a sentence without Haven saying her name a few dozen times. "It just melts me."

Haven also loves eating and drinking a lot.

"What was your first word?" Liza asked Haven. "What do you like to say so much? Can you say 'more'?"

Grinning from ear to ear Haven proudly said, "More!"

Just two years ago, Haven met his mother for the first time when he was two months old.

"Oh my goodness," Liza reminisced. "It was overwhelming. I remember the first time that the nanny at the orphanage placed him in my arms. It was the same feeling you get when they place your baby in your arms that you give birth to."

"It's just completely overwhelming. Here's this person that I have prayed for and longed for for so long, just completely falling in love with him," she said.

Stopping to gaze at Haven, her husband Chris Kinsley continued.

"It was just an immediate love," Chris said. "This is my son. This is it. There wasn't weirdness about it. [I didn't think] 'Oh, he's a couple months old' [or] 'Oh, he's a different skin color than mine' [or] 'This is so strange.' It really [was never] like that."

But adoption isn't for the faint of heart.

"When we met [Haven], he was very malnourished," Chris said, explaining how Haven struggled to keep down the baby formula he was given.

"He was legally declared our son and then we had to leave while essentially our country's side of things gets worked out, all his immigration paperwork. Having met him and knowing he was ours, leaving him was probably the hardest thing we've ever done," Chris said.

"Just like if any parent if their child is sick, they just want to be able to take care of them and help him. And we had to leave him, so it wasn't just waiting. It was wondering, 'How's he doing? Is he okay? Is he getting better?'" he added.

Four months after meeting Haven, the Kinsleys were able to bring him home on Valentines Day. At six months old, Haven weighed just seven pounds.

"It's very different from having a child biologically because with them there's lots of unknowns and waiting and surprises, but you have a clear time frame in which it's going to occur," Chris said.

Despite the uncertainty, the wait and the high cost of adopting a child from another country, the Kinsleys never doubted the decision.

"We were doing this for our son," Chris said. "What measure of money would you not sacrifice, save and raise for your child? There's no limit to what we would have done to get him home. [That's why] the adoption process has been a constant reminder of what God has done for us."

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reports a child is orphaned in Africa every 18 seconds. Every minute, 21 children under the age of five die from preventable causes worldwide. An average of 5,760 additional children around the world become orphans daily.

"We felt a natural pull to Africa and the people there," Chris said. "My parents spent time living in South Africa and had adopted from there. (Ethiopia) was also a place of great need. We felt like we could make a difference. We couldn't help every single orphan around the world and every single orphan here, but we could help one. And he can help us and be part of our family."

In Ethiopia, one in six children will die before their fifth birthday. Ethiopian children are also 30 times more likely to die by their fifth birthday than a child in Western Europe.

"Haven's story is that he was found abandoned on the side of the road," Liza said. "A police officer found him and took him to a nearby hospital. They determined that he was about a week old, so they started caring for him in the hospital and then they assigned him to an orphanage"

"From there, we got paperwork and started finding birthparents and no parents were able to be found," Liza added.

"We trust that if nothing else God was watching out for him to make sure he was located or found and able to be brought to us," Chris said.

A place of refuge. A place of hope. A Haven.

"It means 'refuge' and 'safe place.' That really gave us a picture of what we've experienced in God for ourselves. That He is our refuge, our safe place taking us into His family. Hopefully by us doing that for Haven, that we would be doing that for him. That we would be taking him into a safe place, into our family," Chris said.

In raising Haven, the Kinsley's have felt its important he has a connection to Ethiopia. One of the ways they've done that is an alphabet book about the county.

"Each letter is for something that comes from Ethiopia," Chris said. "We even used it with Story in preparing for him to come home to teach her about [Ethiopia.] Then while we were in Ethiopia, we purchased some gifts and things, so on certain birthdays we'll give him things from his country and we'll talk about it."

"Obviously, we really look forward to sometime down the road, probably when he's significantly older, being able to take him back to see where he came from. We've [also] kept his given name, Bihar, which is the name they gave him in Ethiopia. [It is now] his middle name," Chris said.

With a full belly and a happy heart, Haven's home.

 

An additional note from Britton Lynn:

I wanted to tell this story because my father was also abandoned at two months old. I've felt the love of adoptive families first hand.

Like baby Haven, it took a significant amount of time, six months, before my dad was adopted. He lived with the local police officer who found him and nuns until was able to be placed in my grandparents' home a few states away in Texas.

But, happy endings like my father and the Kinsleys experienced aren't always the case for most vulnerable children.

Of the estimated 153 million orphans worldwide, only about 30,000 will be adopted each year. The rest usually end up in forced human trafficking, prison or don't make it past their 18th birthday. The numbers are shocking.

-Less than .1 percent of the orphans worldwide will ever be adopted (about 30,000)

-75 percent of orphans worldwide will be forced into human trafficking & prostitution

-15 percent of orphans worldwide will be imprisoned or dead by 18

In a few days, I will be traveling to Uganda, Africa to share how a ministry of Lifeline Children's Services called (Un)Adopted is working to help those children. Throughout the trip, I'll be posting stories and video on myfoxal.com, Twitter (@BrittonLynn) and Facebook (both MyFoxAl.com and Britton Lynn pages) to share UnAdopted's work.

If you want to help (Un)Adopted right here in Birmingham, you can signup for the R(un) for One 5k that's taking place on August 16.

Runs will also be taking place in Louisville, KY , Fayetteville, GA or the "Run Where You Are" from any place in the world.

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