Haitian kids thriving in Maine

Posted Jan. 13, 2011, at 9:37 p.m.
Amanda Logiodice of Pittsfield cuddles with her adpoted son J.J. of Haiti at the familys home in Pittsfield on Thursday, January 13, 2011. The two year old, formerly known as David, came to America with medical problems but is now a healthy toddler who is slowly learning to talk. BDN Photo by Kevin Bennett
Amanda Logiodice of Pittsfield cuddles with her adpoted son J.J. of Haiti at the familys home in Pittsfield on Thursday, January 13, 2011. The two year old, formerly known as David, came to America with medical problems but is now a healthy toddler who is slowly learning to talk. BDN Photo by Kevin Bennett
Amanda Logiodice of Pittsfield greets her children on Thursday, January 13, 2011 as they exit the school bus at he familys Pittsfield home. Braeden, left, is Logiodice's biological son and Christella was adopted from Haiti  after the devastating 2010 earthquake. BDN Photo by Kevin Bennett
Amanda Logiodice of Pittsfield greets her children on Thursday, January 13, 2011 as they exit the school bus at he familys Pittsfield home. Braeden, left, is Logiodice's biological son and Christella was adopted from Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. BDN Photo by Kevin Bennett
Bella Logiodice, left, watches a movie on her mothers cell phone along with her adoptive sister Christella at the familys Pittsfield home on Thursday, January 13, 2011. Christella has spent the past year growing up as a Logiodice after being adopted from Haiti. She has lost the ability to speak or understand Creole according to her mother Amanda Logiodice. BDN Photo by Kevin Bennett
Bella Logiodice, left, watches a movie on her mothers cell phone along with her adoptive sister Christella at the familys Pittsfield home on Thursday, January 13, 2011. Christella has spent the past year growing up as a Logiodice after being adopted from Haiti. She has lost the ability to speak or understand Creole according to her mother Amanda Logiodice. BDN Photo by Kevin Bennett

PITTSFIELD, Maine — If they ever have reason to flee their home, Jediah and Amanda Logiodice would first grab their five children. If they had time for material possessions, they’d grab their children again, this time in the form of several portraits and photographs adorning the walls of their home.

“Those are my most prized possessions,” Amanda said Thursday, referring to five colorful portraits of her children that hang above the dining room table. “They’re the things I would grab if there was a fire.”

The portraits depict Jediah Jr., 2; Bella, 5; Christella, 6; Braeden, 6; and Donovan, 9. Though the portraits have their similarities — such as the precious faces of five happy and healthy children — there are also obvious differences. Christella and Jediah Jr., with their dark-colored skin, obviously come from different backgrounds than their three pale-faced siblings.

If not for the Logiodice family, there’s no telling what life would be like today for Christella and Jediah Jr. A year ago, when an earthquake devastated the country of Haiti, the Logiodices were in the process of adopting them. A process that they expected to take several years was kicked in to high gear, and last January, Christella and Jediah Jr. came to their new home in Maine. If not for the earthquake, the adoption process would still be going on and the children would still be in Haiti.

Instead of living amid rubble, a creeping cholera epidemic and reminders of death and destruction everywhere, the two youngsters have minor concerns these days — such as bracing themselves against the cold of a Maine winter and sharing toys with their three new siblings.

Or putting the heads back on.

“Oops, the head came off,” Christella said Thursday afternoon, inspecting the severed noggin of a fair-haired Barbie doll until Bella grabbed it and retreated to the kitchen with a flurry of squeals.

“Hey, don’t scream at me!” said Christella, giving chase. “That’s my Rapunzel.”

Jediah Logiodice, trying to repair the doll with pliers, offered the exchange as proof that his children aren’t unlike anyone else’s — except maybe for the fact that the Logiodice family has more of them than most.

“When people see our family and the two children from Haiti, they think we’re heroes or something,” said Jediah. “I don’t see it that way. This is just our family.”

That’s not to say that the adopted children didn’t come without unique challenges. Jediah Jr. — who is called “Little J” by his brothers — arrived in the United States with a host of medical problems, ranging from double ear infections and pneumonia to difficulties with his digestive tract that required months of treatment. One sign that he might remember the orphanage he was rescued from is his appetite and the fact he devours whatever is put in front of him.

“I think he still associates food with love,” said Jediah. “In the orphanage, that was the only time he had one-on-one contact.”

Christella, who started kindergarten this year at Manson Park School in Pittsfield, has also gone through a period of adjustment on issues such as her bedtime hygiene routine and learning English — which she did in the space of a few months. There has been little evidence that she remembers the earthquake or the carnage that followed. Her parents for the most part have avoided that conversation. On the advice of counselors, they’re watching for those tragic memories to surface sometime in the future.

Amanda and Jediah said that although their Haitian-born children came with their unique challenges, they’re not any more difficult than the other children in the grand scheme of things.

Last June, the family went to a courthouse in Skowhegan to complete the adoption process. Pictures from that day hang in the living room. One depicts Amanda walking hand in hand with her two daughters and another shows the family seated together on some outdoor steps. Amanda, a professional photographer, said each image tells the story of a frozen moment in time.

“These are very important to me,” she said, gazing at the photographs of her family from adoption day. “That was the day they officially became Logiodices.”

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