June 24, 2018
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Haitian children adjusting to a whole new life

By Christopher Cousins, BDN Staff

PITTSFIELD, Maine — The Logiodice household, with its five children, is about what you’d expect.

The four oldest — Donovan, 8, Braeden, 5, Christella, 5, and Bella, 4 — jump around and screech as they collaborate to keep half-deflated balloons off the floor. They knock a picture off the wall and Mom steps in.

“All right, guys, calm down,” says Amanda Logiodice patiently, shooing the balloons into a bedroom. A few minutes later Donovan and Braeden are at it again. “If you don’t stop I’m going to take this balloon outside and let it go,” says Mom, more firmly this time.

“Noooo!” cries Bella.

The girls are dressed in princess costumes; the boys pile a few dozen stuffed animals on the living room floor. One-year-old Jediah Junior toddles around in a constant quest to be held. Once held, even by a stranger, his kisses are free and plentiful.

But what seems like a common scene is not. Three of the siblings just met the other two on Wednesday. A week ago, Christella and Jediah Junior were in southern Haiti, where their orphanage crumbled around them in the terrible earthquake that struck on Jan. 12. They ate rationed meals of rice and water only twice a day. They lived among human corpses and all the other tragedy that is life today in southern Haiti.

Today, Christella and Jediah Junior mark their fourth day living in Pittsfield.

Jediah Sr. and Amanda Logiodice have been in the process of adopting the children for the past 18 months, but weren’t expecting to bring them home for another year or more. Adoptions from Haiti can take longer than three years.

When the quake struck, the Logiodices sought the shortest route through the red tape, which turned out to be a congressional “humanitarian parole” that allowed Christella and Jediah Junior passage out of Haiti. The couple retrieved the children in Miami early in the week and returned to their Pittsfield home Wednesday evening. Christella became Christella Rachel Louis and the baby, whose name was David in Haiti, became Jediah Junior David.

Asked how adding Christella and Jediah Junior to their family differed from the births of their biological children, Jediah and Amanda agreed on the answer.

“It’s not different,” said Amanda.

“Even my mother-in-law said the same thing,” said Jediah. “She said, ‘When I saw them it was like they’d always been my grandchildren.’”

Despite Jediah Junior’s and Christella’s emergency removal from Haiti, the Logiodice family’s adoption of them is far from final. Now that Jediah and Amanda are the legal guardians, they essentially must restart the adoption process according to domestic rules as opposed to international ones. That means hiring more lawyers and paying more fees.

“Financially, it’s a strain,” said Jediah, who estimated that they already have spent $25,000 on the adoption. “But the money doesn’t matter. I know it will all work out. Money is made of paper.”

Though they’re grateful to have their family together, the Logiodices are eager for the rescue of other Haitian children who have adoptive parents pining for them.

“People need to call their senators,” said Jediah.

“If these children do not become adopted, they won’t get out,” said Amanda. “The need is so great.”

Jediah Junior and Christella are adapting to their new surroundings but show signs of the trauma they’ve been through. Jediah Junior cries unless he is held constantly. Christella cried herself to sleep for the first couple of nights. But there are signs of improvement, said Amanda. Christella’s last words Thursday night were, “Good night, Daddy. I love you.” Then, in the middle of the night when Amanda woke to tend to Jediah Junior, she found Christella sleeping with Bella in Bella’s bed.

Jediah Junior slept for an hour in his father’s embrace Thursday afternoon, as comfortable as could be.

“I do feel like we saved our children, but I know God would have saved them if we didn’t,” said Jediah Sr. through a few tears that spilled down to Jediah Junior. “I know that because he did save them. I feel it was his plan for these children.”

Friends and family of the Logiodices have planned an open house and baby shower from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, at the Elks Club in downtown Pittsfield.

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