‘That Was God Preparing Us for the Girls’

Post a Comment » Written on August 14th, 2007     
Filed under: News
By Stan Friedman

LAFAYETTE, IN (August 14, 2007) In this second installment of a four-part series, Sandy and Richard Doyle begin to find healing in the face of their son Jeremy’s death.

In the summer of 2000, eighteen months after losing their son Jeremy in a car accident, Richard and Sandy Doyle sat in the office of Doug Taylor, executive director of Lafayette Habitat for Humanity. They were there to discuss a fundraiser for the construction of two houses in their son’s memory. One was being built by Jeremy’s former classmates; the other by Richard’s colleagues in the fire department, where he is an assistant chief.

Before they started in on the fundraiser, Taylor said he wanted to discuss another matter. Taylor, who had recently returned from a work trip in Haiti, pulled out a picture of three girls.

“I think you should adopt them,” he said. “My colleagues and I have felt led that you were the family we needed to ask.”

The three sisters were orphans that Taylor had met during his trip. He had been walking down a path in a remote area when he happened upon Adam Marcelin, a pastor in the isolated village of LaMare.

The pastor was accompanied by the three girls—Junise, Fabienne and Lucy—as he returned to LaMare from a conference for pastors. While at the conference, Marcelin had been praying for the many needs of the people in his village.

One of his chief prayers was to find a home for the girls.

When they met, Marcelin told Taylor what had happened to the girls. Their parents had died recently, leaving them homeless. Marcelin and his wife (see photo at right) had taken two of them in, while the third was living with a relative. But neither situation was permanent.

As much as they wanted to, Marcelin and his wife could not afford to care for the girls over the long term. But he knew that they had few other options. He thought, “There’s no way I can find a home for these girls.”

As Taylor recounted the story, Sandy took it as a sign. “The day after the funeral, God had promised me he would return my joy far greater than my sorrows” she said.

On the outside, it looked like the Doyles had recovered from the shock of losing their son. They had forgiven the young driver who had killed Jeremy. And they had thrown themselves into reaching out to other youth in the community. The Doyles seemed to be doing all right.

But in private, things were different.

“We grieved every night,” says Sandy. “Every morning, before I got up, I would pray that God would walk with me to help me get through the day. I cried myself to sleep for months. Those were the days I lived from second to second because I missed him. But the strange thing was I was always comforted.”

John Martz, their pastor, walked with them through the dark days. “They cried buckets of tears,” he says.


When the Doyle’s first mentioned the possibility of adopting Junise, Fabienne and Lucy (see photo above), some of their friends thought they were making a mistake—trying to replace Jeremy somehow. But the Doyles took things slowly.

When Taylor first broached the idea, Richard was opposed to it. Instead, he thought they should send money to Pastor Marcelin to pay for the girls’ care.

Still, Richard agreed to go on a Habitat work trip to Haiti later that year. He and Eric, the Doyle’s middle son, joined a work team Taylor was leading. Just before Richard boarded the plane for Haiti, he and Sandy had a heart-to-heart talk.

“I think you are standing in the way of God’s will for our lives,” Sandy told him. “I will be praying that God will show you if we should adopt the girls or just continue to support them. I am asking God to clearly show you what we should do.”

When he arrived in Haiti, Richard says he started to get out of God’s way.

Two of the girls were at the worksite when they arrived. Without knowing that the Doyles had been their benefactors, the girls attached themselves to the father and son.

“They followed us everywhere,” Richard says. “We would go into the room we were staying in and catch the girls on our bed going through our suitcases with our pencils and note pads in hand, drawing pictures and eating all our peanuts…it was a sweet sight.”

As soon as he met the girls, Richard was convinced. When he got home, he told Sandy that he was ready to adopt them.

There was dissent in the family over the adoption, however. “Eric was excited about adopting them because he had met them,” Sandy says. Fifteen-year-old Ben was adamantly opposed—until he met Junise, Fabienne and Lucy.

Now, she says, “he’s so kind and patient with the girls, and he doesn’t view them as ‘adopted’ but as ‘his’ little sisters. It was so amazing to see God soften his heart the moment they arrived home.”

The adoption process went relatively quickly. One of the biggest hurdles was finding birth certificates for the girls as well as their parent’s death certificates. Since those document were in place, the process went smoothly. Within nine months, the sisters arrived at the Doyle’s home.

At the time, Junise was 12 years old, Fabienne was eight, and Lucy was 5. The Lafayette Covenant Church threw a welcome shower for the girls and donated clothing and other items. Because the Doyles had raised only sons, they leaned on the advice of other congregation members who had daughters.

Four-part series

“Losing Jeremy‘That Was God Preparing Us for the Girls’”

“Lafayette Church ‘Adopts’ Village”

“Lives intersect after tragedy”

The congregation provided other support as well. Women in the church tutored the girls and shared home-schooling resources. “The girls had never been exposed to schooling,” Sandy says. “You can’t just put a 12-year-old in kindergarten.”

For the first few months, Ben and Eric were the family translators, since they had taken French in high school. Sandy was glad they had not listened to her when choosing classes. “I wanted them to take Spanish because it was more practical,” she recalls. Now, she says, “That was God preparing us for the girls.”

Sandy says that the girls brought an unexpected gift with them from Haiti. When they arrived, joy returned to the Doyle’s house, as Sandy recounted in a 2002 article in the Covenant Companion.

“After Jeremy died the laughter was missing from our home,” Sandy said. “But now with our three adopted Haitian sisters, the laughter has returned to the dining table.”

In part three, the Doyles and their church return to Haiti to help rebuild an entire village.

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