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November is National Adoption Month: Tragedy Remakes a Family

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USCIS strives to raise awareness about the adoption of children, both within the United States and abroad, and, this November, celebrates the citizenship of hundreds of children in special ceremonies across the nation. The Beacon will feature three separate blog posts this month to share the unique stories of children and families who have bonded through intercountry adoption.

This week we feature Robin and Mike Shahan who adopted their son, Fred, from Haiti.

The first news headline that came up on my computer was: “7.0 quake hits Haiti; 'Serious loss of life' expected." That line will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Our family mourns the lives lost during that horrible day in Haiti. We also give thanks that our young son's life was spared. When our son Fred entered the United States, he was just a week away from his first birthday. He was tiny, only 13 pounds, malnourished, and sick with giardia, ringworm, and a number of other illnesses. After the earthquake Freddy had lived outside with minimal food and water for nearly six days with other children from his orphanage. It was a miracle he was still alive. By allowing him to enter our country with humanitarian parole, the United States government saved his life. We thank USCIS; the Office of Refugee Resettlement; and the field office director for the USCIS field office at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince; the selfless caregivers at his orphanage; among countless other compassionate individuals.

Freddy Shahan with little sister Riley
Freddy Shahan with little sister Riley

Fred has come a long way since his first birthday, and is growing in leaps and bounds. Despite the myriad of challenges he has had to overcome in his young life, Freddy has developed into a funny, athletic, smart, caring, and loving little boy who is quickly approaching his fourth birthday. Since joining our family, Fred has also become an older brother to a little sister named Riley. He is a wonderful big brother and the two are inseparable. It is hard to believe how far we have come since that fateful day in January 2010. We feel beyond blessed to have our son Fred in our family forever.