Family struggles to raise money to adopt Haitian girl
By Craig McMorris, TV5 Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
COLEMAN, MI (WNEM) -
A Mid-Michigan family is fighting to adopt a Haitian girl who's been living in their home since last year.
But they say they were conned out of thousands of dollars when they tried to go through the adoption process the right way. Now the U.S. government says it might be forced to send the girl back to Haiti.
Lonna and Jay Allen don't want to lose the little girl. They've been trying to adopt Elizabeth, Eli for short, for the past couple of years. "I'm nervous," said Lonna. "You know for three years we've been attempting to adopt, thinking we were doing it right."
Lonna met Eli when she was on a missionary trip to Haiti in 2010. When she found out the girl needed heart surgery she did everything possible to bring Eli back to Michigan and they managed to get a medical visa for her. The heart surgery was a success. The Allen's thought they were working through a reputable agent in Haiti in adopting Eli.
"I went down there seven times in two years, and met with him every four months, and met with him and trusted him," explains Lonna. But they say the agent turned out to be a con artist. The Allens say he took off with the money, leaving them high and dry, and now the U.S. government says they only have so much time, at the latest, July, to get everything in order or Eli will be sent back to Haiti.
The Allens have turned to Congressman Dave Camp's office for help and they have received some, and they hope to continue to receive assistance from the congressman.
The Allen's say they have gone through all their savings and most of their retirement funds so far. The community is also rallying to help out the Allens. For example, Friday students at Coleman Elementary where Eli goes to school raised money by wearing hats for her.
Another fundraiser will be held Saturday to help them gather the thousands of dollars they say they need for the adoption process. That event will be a spaghetti dinner, bake sale and silent auction, held at the Coleman Wesleyan Church at 110 West Webster Street in Coleman. It runs from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m.
Lonna said she prays that everything will fall in place in the next few months so they'll be able to keep Eli. "It were forced and she had to leave, the hole in our family could never be filled," Lonna said.
A fund for Eli has also been set up at Wildfire Credit Union.
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