(FATE, TX — September 27, 2017) Lorne and Tonya Megyesi’s five-and-a-half-year journey that led to their adoption of two Haitian children earned for them a trip to Washington, D.C. for recognition as U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe’s Angels in Adoption.
He selected the Fate couple as 2017 Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s Angels in Adoption.
They were among the honorees recognized at a Sept. 27 gala dinner, awards and entertainment event that has been called one of the most inspiring events in Washington, D.C. that seeks to bring awareness to the millions of children around the globe living without a loving family to call their own.
Angels in Adoption honors individuals, couples and organizations from across the nation who have made an extraordinary contribution on behalf of children in need of families. Since the program’s inception in 1999, more than 2,500 Angels have received this honor.
Megyesi, the mayor of Fate, and his wife made their extraordinary contribution on behalf of Kensley, 11, and Tia, 7.
On Feb. 5, 2016, they made their seventh trip to Haiti and brought the children to their new, forever home in Fate. Today, both are students at Dobbs Elementary School—Kensley, a sixth grader, and Tia, a second grader.
The Megyesis are thankful for recognition, but they insist that the highest honor came the day their family grew from five to seven. They also are parents of three daughters—Paige, 20; Tabitha, 16; and Samantha, 15.
“From when we started the process in 2010 till we brought them home in 2016, it was five and a half years of highs and lows, but every day, we give thanks for taking our family of five to a family of seven,” Megyesi said.
“Despite many heartbreaking setbacks that dragged out the process for (almost) six long years, the Megyesi family never gave up on bringing Kensley and Tia into their family,” Rep. Ratcliffe said. “Their story truly epitomizes the great compassion and sacrifice behind every adoption. It’s my hope that their success, in spite of hardship, will encourage others who’ve been considering adoption to embark on their own journey to expand their family and change a child’s life.”
The family spent $42,000, Megyesi said. If they had to go through the process again, he said, they would not go it alone. He said they would spend $10,000 to hire a professional to help them obtain all the documents and take all the necessary steps.
Megyesi said he and his wife will use the recognition as an opportunity to be a voice for other families who are involved in their own adoption journey.
Megyesi said he wants to encourage the United States government to make adoption rules and guidelines easier to follow, which would help relieve families of a “heavy burden.” He and his wife also want to be a voice of encouragement to families who are going through an adoption process.
His wife is active on Facebook sites set up for families who are going through the process to adopt Haitian children. One site is “After the Wait from Haiti,” which helps families deal with some of the “real hard struggles that come with blending families together”—especially families from different countries, different cultures.
The Megyesi family adoption journey started in March 2010 when their pastor, Larry Huch of DFW New Beginnings, went to Haiti and came back with a story of devastation and hopelessness. Two months earlier, an earthquake decimated Port-Au-Prince. The disaster claimed more than 200,000 lives.
The pastor returned from Haiti, saying that the church would take over an orphanage.
“That is when God got a hold of my heart and told me that we need to open up our home for an adopted child,” Megyesi said. “Pastor Huch went back to Haiti in August of 2010 and told us he found a child for us to adopt. There was only one catch – he had a sister.
“I was only looking for one child when my wife Tonya asked me a simple question: if one of our girls was being adopted and went out to the middle of Africa, would it not be better that she would have someone she could relate with, someone who she could help through a very traumatic experience, someone familiar in a land of the unknown? We decided to adopt both of them and let God handle all the details.”
For the next year and a half, they gathered all the paperwork that would be needed to start the adoption process in Haiti. Steps in the process took them “from this office, to the next office, to still another office.” The paperwork grew in thickness to almost four inches and weighed almost five pounds.
They finally sent their dossier to the Haitian government in May 2012, thinking they had everything they needed and hopeful all the documents were signed correctly and notarized properly. All was not OK. One key document was missing.
They found out about the missing document in August 2012. They faced a Sept. 15 deadline. They got the final document and air-mailed it to Haiti. It was submitted Sept. 14, just in time to meet the deadline.
“Missing the deadline would mean we would have had to redo all the paperwork and everything would have been for naught,” Megyesi said. “Thousands of dollars would have been spent for nothing and two years would have been wasted.”
He said paperwork was submitted and now, he thought, they could breathe and let the process work.
They went to visit in December 2012 for the first time to meet their new kids—Kensley, then 7 years old, and Tia, 3. The Megyesis were introduced as the kids’ new “Mama and Papa.” Megyesi said Kensley responded with a big grin. Tia had a shy response, but managed a smile.
“First trip down, memories being made and hearts filled with excitement of seeing two precious faces that would be forever etched into our hearts,” Megyesi said.
Early on, the kids were moved to an orphanage that was home for children who were awaiting adoption by Americans. While they were there, they were taught to speak English. Early during the process, the Megyesis also learned the kids were not orphans. During a visit, they had a surprise meeting with the parents. The parents took the legal steps that authorized the adoption.
They thought the process would move faster, now that the Judge had signed the documents.
“Nope,” Megyesi said.
For the next 678 days, he said, their dossier sat on the desk for the director of IBESR—a Haitian Social Service agency that stands for “Institut du Bien-Etre Social et Recherches” in French and in English means the Institute of Social Well-Being and Research. The director was in no hurry to sign the documents.
“Haiti was in a battle,” he said. “They were trying to get Hague-certified (involving intercountry adoptions) and create a whole new process, and in the meantime, holding hostage all the documents for hundreds of families trying to adopt. Finally, she signed the document and off to the next offices we went.”
After more court appearances, filings and appointments, they were submitted for U.S. visa appointments in August of 2014. They were in the final stages of the adoption process and were arranging for airline tickets to go to Haiti and bring their kids home.
There was another delay. They got a call from the Department of Homeland Security at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti. There was an issue with the paperwork and they couldn’t authorize visas for the kids. Their adoption decree was missing one key word – “Plenary.” Their adoption decree was only for a simple adoption and with changes in the Haitian adoption process and the Hague guidelines, the new rules stated that an adoption had to be a “Plenary – Full and Final” adoption.
“We ended up having to go back to the lower courts and redo the entire adoption paperwork,” Megyesi said. “We went from having joy of seeing a light at the end, to having the wind taken totally away. For the next five and a half months, I made more calls and talked with more governmental officials trying to get the paper work reprocessed.”
On Dec. 30, 2015, they finally got the call that the adoption was redone as a “Plenary” adoption and that they would be submitting back to the Department of Homeland Security for the U.S. visas. Two weeks later, they finally got the approval for visas. They could go and pick the kids up.
On Feb. 5, 2016, they made their seventh trip to Haiti and brought Kenlsey and Tia Megyesi home for good
By Blue Ribbon News contributing writer Jim Hardin. Photos courtesy of the Megyesi Family.
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