Thursday, April 15, 2010

Incredible Woman #34 - Michelle Chapeau. Thursday's Questions

KARA: "Your friend told me that when an adoption agency shut down, you stepped in and , without pay, helped get all of the kids placed with their adoptive families! Tell us about that – why and how did you do it? What did you learn from this experience?"

MICHELLE: "Well, through my own adoption process with my daughter, I learned a lot. I spoke with several employees in the agency quite frequently and learned a lot through them. I knew at one point prior to the agency shutting down, that the asst. director was completely overwhelmed when the agency director just kind of fell off the face of the earth and flew out of the country to deal with family matters. It was during this time that I began to help the asst. director with running the agency. I did it because we had become friends and she was going crazy with everything dumped on her head. I quietly stepped in and began to help out a lot more than anyone really knew. I had access to the agency director's email to be able to let someone know about anything that came up. I learned a whole lot about what needed to be done and how things worked. It was during this time that I developed relationships with almost all of the facilitators involved in the Guatemala adoptions that were in process. Word got around that I could be trusted and they began to deal with me directly. In the end, when the agency closure was imminent, I noticed that the agency director had been telling families that their final fees were a thousand or more dollars more than what they actually owed - pocketing the money. When an adoption got to that point in the process... there were three... I quietly called the families, told them what was going on, sent them copies of previous emails to back up what I was saying where she had taken their money earlier in the process and encouraged them to wire the money directly to Guatemala, bypassing the agency director. I knew how many babies were supposed to come home. There were twenty six. I knew that when it was all said and done, the agency director was good at spending money, but did not have a clue as to what needed to be done in the final stages of the process to get them home. I contacted each family and set up a yahoo group. I gave them all my email address and phone number and told them I was available 24 hours a day. I put all of the forms online and made them accessible to them. I kept in contact with the facilitators and served as the middle person when necessary to get the children home. My son was one of the twenty six. I had to finish my own adoption as well. I knew that these families were terrified about what would happen with the agency closing and they did not have a clue what needed to be done to get the babies home. I simply provided a forum for support and was there to answer their questions and guide them along. I just helped them to feel that is was not as overwhelming and scary as it felt. I just answered the phone when it rang, no matter what time it was or where they were calling from. I somehow felt responsible for these families and these little people. I don't know why, I just did. I just put myself in their situation and did not like what I saw. I knew what it took to get the babies home and it seemed very selfish of me not to help others when I had the knowledge, relationships and skills that they so desperately needed to help them. No, I did not receive any money for doing it. No, my parents never understood when I had to stop what I was doing and take a call from Guatemala when both of my children were home, but it is what I chose to do and I never expected anything in return but happy completed families and that is exactly what I got. Well, except three. I wasn't able to help two families get a set of twins and a little boy home. I think they were just bad from the start from what I understand. In the end though, twenty three children came home and that is so awesome.

As far as what I learned, well, I know an awful lot about international adoption and that maybe someday, I would like to open my own adoption agency. I would not be dishonest and I learned a lot of about what NOT to do. It reminded me just how much I need to go back to school and finish my degree and then get a master's. It makes me feel good that I had a tiny part in all of their lives."

KARA: "Do you have a favorite quote, or book, or song that you’d love to share with us?"

MICHELLE: "My favorite quote? I found it not too long ago and have it attached to all of my emails, including work. It pretty much says it all.

"Adopting one child won't change the world;
but for that child the world will change" ~David Avilla"

Please come back tomorrow for the last two questions in my interview with Michelle. We'll be talking about some fun things, including Michelle's perfect day, and her beauty secrets!


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