Park City family welcomes new daughter from Haiti
October 28, 2016
Little did Park City resident Ashlie Allen know that a service trip to Haiti with the Hope Alliance would change her life forever.
Allen accompanied Hope Alliance Haiti project director Kym Meehan to the Hope Alliance home in Camatin in 2011.
The home houses 26 Haitian orphan girls ages 4 to 16.
"I was involved with the Kiwanis Club in Park City and Kym came to our club on behalf of the Hope Alliance to see if we would help support the orphanage," Allen said. "Of course we said yes, but I also told her I wanted to go with her to Haiti to help her and not just donate."
Allen enjoyed the service trip and signed up for the next year.
That's when she met a little girl named Rosemene.
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"She had been abandoned at the orphanage a few weeks prior and we just bonded," Allen said. "I can't pinpoint what drew me to her, because all of the girls at the orphanage are special to me.
"That's why I wanted to go back in the first place," Allen said. "I had developed all of these relationships and couldn't imagine that I would never see them again."
But Allen missed Rosemene in a different way.
"I went to bed thinking about her and I woke up thinking about her," she said. "I always wondered what she was doing and if she was OK. It felt like she was supposed to be with us and that she was supposed to be with me."
But Allen didn't know she wanted to adopt Rosemene until a month after she had been home from that second trip.
That's when she told her husband Isaac how she felt.
"I told him that I really missed her and it's different," Allen said. "He said, 'OK. Let's go get her. I knew you felt different about her through your emails and I was just waiting for you to tell me we needed to go get her.'"
The Allens started the adoption process in January 2013, and it was finalized in December 2015.
"That's when Rosemene got our last name and legally became our child, but there were still some steps on the Haitian side that needed to be finished up before we could bring her home," Allen said. "We also needed to go through immigration on the United States side."
Rosemene officially moved to Park City in September, marking a long and challenging journey for her and her new family.
"It's always a challenge getting anything done in a Third-World country, because there is no infrastructure and the process is quite complicated," Allen said. "There are a lot of things we take for granted here in the States that they don't have in Haiti."
Those things include continuous electrical power.
"That means most of the time even making a photocopy of a document isn't a simple task," Allen said. "It may take days because you might not have access to a printer with power."
Also, getting people together for a meeting is difficult.
"For our two-week socialization visit last May, we had to pick up our social worker at her house and take her to the government offices for our interview because she couldn't get there on her own," Allen said. "We had arrived at the offices at 9:30 a.m. and after three hours of waiting, we were informed that we had to go get the social worker because she didn't have a car."
Another big problem was that Haiti changed its adoption laws halfway through Rosemene's adoption process.
"We ended up having to meet all of the old law requirements and then they made us meet all the new law requirements as well," Allen said. "That meant we had to do many things all over again.
"There was a lot of back and forth because the administration was also trying to figure out the new laws," she said.
Allen said the most tedious part was getting the documents ready.
"You had to put together your entire life in paper and have everything notarized," she said. "Our dossier felt like it was six inches thick and we told people not to lose anything."
But it was all worth it, and she thanks the Hope Alliance for its support.
"Since the Hope Alliance's main job isn't about adoptions, there are strict laws that they have to abide by," Allen said. "What they did was help us get in contact with people.
Also, if I hadn't gone to Haiti, this wouldn't have happened."
When Rosemene got to Park City, the Allens embarked on a new adventure.
"The adjustments from our side were different because, while she is old enough to do things by herself, all of what we have is new to her," Allen said. "We have two other children — a 5-year-old girl named Solara and an 8-year-old son named Finn, and I had to tell them that, although Rosemene is around their same ages, she needs to learn things that they already know."
Rosemene was most interested in the stairs, the carpet, all of her clothes and running water.
"For the first week, I had to keep telling her to stop turning on the water faucets," Allen said with a laugh. "Having running water is so new to her and every time she walked into the bathroom she would turn them on."
Still, Solara and Finn have helped Rosemene's transition go more smoothly than expected.
"I was very happy," Rosemene said through Allen, who translated her daughter’s answers. "I want[ed] to play in the snow with Finn and Solara. The mountains here are very different from the mountains in Haiti. They are so big."
All three kids attend the Weilenmann School of Discovery, and the girls take dance at the Ballet West Academy.
"Rosemene was ready to go," Allen said. "Most kids, at least I think, would be scared. But she wanted to start school as soon as she could."
"The kids at school are my favorite part," Rosemene said. " I like math and drawing."
Rosemene also enjoys activities when she's not in school.
"I like to color and make pictures," she said.
She also likes to play outside and drive a pink Powerwheels battery-operated car.
Still, moving to Park City was a big step for Rosemene.
"I was scared to leave my friends at the orphanage," she said. "I was sad."
To help with those anxieties, Rosemene keeps in touch with her friend Eden, who lives in Tennessee, Allen said.
"Eden was just adopted from the same orphanage, and the girls FaceTime every day," she said.
If there is anything that Rosemene wants people to know about her it is she is smart and not afraid.
"I am [also] funny and I love to laugh," she said.
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