Live Oak pastor’s family adopts Haitian orphan after long journey
Feb 14, 2013
Florida Baptist Witness

Courtesy photo
LIVE OAK (FBW)—A childcare assignment on a 2008 mission trip to Haiti has become a lifelong commitment for the Herrington family in Live Oak. 

To Phillip Herrington, pastor of First Baptist Church, their adoption of young Jack is a living picture of the grace of God.

“As believers, we are adopted into God’s family by grace, and we can extend that grace to this little boy,” he said.

Herrington’s wife, Cristina, was part of a medical mission team from First Baptist that traveled to Haiti in January 2008. With no medical training, she counted pills in the pharmacy for a short while before being handed a “limp, lethargic” child, a new arrival at the Cabaret Orphanage in Bercy. 

Although his grandmother and aunt, who left him at the orphanage, said he was three months old, the Cabaret staff suspected he was older, but malnourished.

“She handed him to me and said I was his mommy for the week. He was completely my responsibility,” Cristina Herrington said. “I thought, ‘No, not me. I don’t do babies. I don’t have a nurturing bone in my body. He is too sick.’ The list went on and on in my head.”

But, remembering the key to mission trip success—flexibility, she took the child in her arms and “immediately fell in love with him,” she said. After one week in Cristina’s care, the tiny boy was sitting up and trying to smile.

As her week in Haiti drew to a close, she began to fear for the life of the boy the orphanage staff called “Jack Jack.” She wondered who among the busy staff would make sure that he ate peanut butter, the only food he would take. 

SIBLINGS Emma and Jack Herrington. The Herrington family adopted Jack from a Haiti orphanage. Courtesy photo
“Sadness overwhelmed me. I had fallen in love with this little Haitian boy, and the thought of leaving him in a country with no food and no family caused my heart to ache,” she said.

Christiana Herrington remembers crying all the way back to Live Oak, and it was two weeks before she could speak of Jack Jack without crying. Cristina told her incredulous husband almost immediately that she wanted their family to adopt the child she had cared for in Haiti.

“I said, ‘You’re crazy. If you want another child, we’ll have another biological child,’” Phillip Herrington said. 

It took two years, from January 2008 until January 2010, for the couple “to get on the same page with each other and with the Lord,” he said. 

“It became, for me, about obeying the Lord. It became clear that our next step of obedience was adoption,” he said.

The Herringtons told their daughter, Emma, who was seven at the time, about their desire to adopt Jack. They told her he would come to live in their house, and he would be with them permanently, just like her.

“She grasped what we told her, and she was ready for it to happen immediately. She became more impatient than Cristina and I to get Jack home,” he said.

One week after the Jan. 12, 2010, catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, the family notified Cabaret Orphanage of their desire to adopt Jack. Among the many things they discovered about their upcoming adoption process in Haiti was that one person of the adopting couple must be at least 35. Phillip Herrington had turned 35 January 12. 

Since Cabaret is not an adopting orphanage, the Herringtons contacted A Love Beyond Borders, a licensed, Hague-approved, Christian agency to facilitate the adoption. They chose the agency because of its reputation as an agency that operates above-board and refuses to pay bribes that are often part of the process in Haiti, he said.

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