I Fled The Country To Find Purpose, And Unexpectedly Came Back With A 14-Year-Old Son

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Grieving Pregnancy Loss

“Six months before we met him, I had gotten pregnant on an IUD.

Although the news was shocking at first, we quickly became thrilled over this unexpected miracle of life. But soon after adjusting to the fact that our foursome of a family was to become a fivesome, I was diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy.

The doctor had given me a shot of chemo in order to save my life. It was an excruciating ordeal, both emotionally and physically, that took its toll on me and my little family.

The miscarriage that followed was long and painful. My hair fell out. I sat on my couch and cried for a solid month. I couldn’t understand why our hearts had been stretched to welcome a baby, just to lose it.

Woman with glasses lying solemnly on couch
Courtesy of Jaci Ohayon

I took a leave of absence from my career as a United States immigration attorney after a particularly horrific asylum trial that took place during the same time period. I just couldn’t figure out how to face a world that watched while such terrible things happened to humans and then closed its eyes when they asked for help.

I was miserable and heartbroken, so much so that it was painful to smile. I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. There was so much grief and sadness in me, and so much grief and sadness in the world.

So, I fled, full force, to the Dominican Republic where I was hiding out on the beach, teaching English and waiting tables while licking my wounds and questioning my purpose in life. My husband assured me I would find my way through this dark time and go back to my career when I was ready, but I wasn’t so sure that he was right.

Meeting My Future Son

One day, while my little family was at lunch, we saw a boy throwing his much too big flip flops into the ocean and then swimming after them. When he came back to shore and walked by our table, we invited him to have pizza with us.

He sat down, immediately, and respectfully waited for us to serve him a slice. We tried to speak with him in Spanish, but when he didn’t reply, we switched to French. I noticed that his beautiful teeth were whiter than the clouds over our heads.

I also noticed that my heart exploded when we met him, as if it already knew him.

Smiling boy climbing palm tree
Courtesy of Jaci Ohayon

Throughout the next several months, he hung out with us when he wasn’t shining shoes, pushing our kids on the swing or helping us pick out the perfect spot for a picnic.

My family primarily spoke English, but his mother tongue was Haitian Kreyol. So, we communicated using a mixture of Spanish, French, and charades. Since he had never been to school, we worked on teaching him math, and he met with our kids’ French tutor a couple times a week to improve his French.

When his Mama showed up on my doorstep, with a small garbage bag of clothes and a toothbrush, asking me to take him in and show him how to be a man with a future, I told her no.

For so many reasons, there was just no way that I could assume this role…but my heart had already said YES!

Birth mom and adoptive mom hugging boy
Courtesy Jaci Ohayon

Expanding Our Family

As an immigration attorney, I knew that the chances of getting him to the United States to attend school were limited, but with the help of a congressman and a senator, we were able to secure his visa.

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Couple standing outside U.S. embassy
Courtesy of Jaci Ohayon

He arrived in the United States in the middle of winter, going from life on a Caribbean beach to life in the High Rockies of Colorado. He didn’t know how to read, write, or speak English, but worked extremely hard and never ever complained.

haitian boy smiles and holds book
Courtesy Jaci Ohayon

That amazing young man is now studying business and engineering in college while attending a soccer academy with his heart set on going pro! Having the opportunity to attend school in the United States has changed his life.

Young man receiving high school diploma
Courtesy of Jaci Ohayon
Young man in red soccer uniform kicking soccer ball
Courtesy of Jaci Ohayon

By being able to pull himself out of poverty, he has also been able to change and bless other people’s lives around him, including his family who is cheering him on from Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Finding Purpose

Sometimes, I still grieve the baby that I never got to hold and then I dry my tears and look around at my life in complete wonder. The woman who had fled to the Dominican Republic was heartbroken and searching for purpose, but God took my broken pieces and molded a life out of them that is more beautiful and fulfilling than I ever could have dreamed of.

God knew that I was grieving the loss of a child, so he put one in my path to help nurture, guide, and love. Our foursome of a family still became a fivesome of a family; it just happened differently than I expected.

Young man walking down street in red silk suit
Courtesy of Jaci Ohayon

God also knew I was doubting my career and purpose in life, so he gave me an impossible case to win and then placed people in my life to help secure success. That experience proved my husband right, as it inspired me to go back to practicing immigration law.

We now live in France, on the cusp of Geneva, where we are expanding our US-based law office into Europe and focusing on the practice of human rights, global mobility and immigration law, which was my childhood dream.

Our firm works with clients around the globe who are looking to move to the United States or Europe, whether it be for business or personal endeavors. We also recently prepared our first human rights complaint with the United Nations. The world may close its eyes when people ask for help, but we actively attempt to keep ours wide open and help wherever and whenever we can.

So, if you are reading this and feeling like you’ve been kicked in the guts and are wondering why you have to go through whatever heartbreak you are dealing with right now, I hope my story gives you hope.

You may feel like your world has been shattered apart, but maybe it’s actually being pieced together. I pray that you find the strength deep within yourself to pull through this terrible time with the knowledge that God is taking your broken pieces and crafting something bigger, brighter and more beautiful than you can even imagine.”

Couple kissing passionately beside pool
Courtesy of Jaci Ohayon

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