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Dave Bruno

Marriage and Family Therapists

Graduates: Cal State Fullerton; Undergraduates: Cincinnati Bible College

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Kristen's Blog


Mark & Kristen Howerton: Loving the Little Children of the World

Mark and Kristen met in Bible college and were married in 1996.  He says they always knew adoption was a way that God would build their family.  They were excited about adding to their family uniquely through adoption and also through having biological children. 

Jafta, now 6, was born in Los Angeles and adopted first.  Kristen was pregnant with their first biological child, India, now 4.  Then on the same day India was born, Kenbe (pronounced Ken-bay) was born in Haiti.  “We found out about him when we visited Haiti,” says Kristen.  After deciding to adopt him, the Howertons went through a long (almost 3-year) process.  During that time, Kristen became pregnant with Karis, now 2,.   “Our heart has always been that adoption is God’s heart for kids and that every child deserves a loving home,” says Mark.  “We wanted to reach beyond American borders and we felt we had the ability to build our family through international adoption.” 

During Kenbe’s adoption process, the Howertons did their best to visit him in the orphanage as much as they could.  In early 2010, Kristen and Karis, then 9 months, went to Haiti to check on the status of their adoption. The second day they were there, a massive earthquake hit Haiti.  It was January 12, 2010. 

“The earthquake was so powerful…and it caused so much confusion,” says Kristen.  “I thought we were being bombed.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  It was like I was standing on a blanket and someone was trying to shake me off the blanket.”  Kristen says there was no way at that time for them to find how bad the earthquake was since there was no electricity.  She did manage to get to a phone and call home.  Mark says he got a voicemail saying Kristen was ok.  “The focus at that point was, how do we get Kristen home?” says Mark.  “We were trying to find emergency evacuations to get out of the country,” says Kristen.  “But we didn’t know what would happen with Kenbe.”

Kristen, 36, found out that the embassy was evacuating people on military planes.  So they spent the night at the embassy and were taken to the airport.  “We had no idea what would happen to Kenbe,” says Kristen.  “Saying goodbye is something you dread the whole time you are there and this was the worst.”  Kristen left Haiti and 3-year old Kenbe with a sense of peace.  “I knew he was in a great orphanage and I knew the missionaries would take care of him no matter what,” she says.  “ But I left not really knowing what was going to happen with his adoption.”

Her prayers were soon answered.  When she arrived at home, Kristen got an email saying that there was a chance that the government would grant children, who were already matched with families, with humanitarian parole.  Meaning that they would hurry the adoption process through due to the severe devastation in the country.  The next day, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer showed up at Kenbe’s orphanage.  Diane actually held their son on air!  The Howertons felt like this was a way that God was saying Kenbe was being taken care of.  “Our prayer the whole time was, God move the hands of the government,” says Mark, 37.  A week after Kristen got home, Kenbe was granted humanitarian parole.  Mark says, “God gets the glory for this.  The Body of Christ is so vast.  There were so many people who were earnestly praying for us, and God showed up in miraculous ways to get our son home.”

The Howertons agree that adopting children, whether from America or from other countries, is difficult.  “If you feel like you’ve been called, you have to be in it for the long haul,” says Kristen.  “It’s difficult, but so is being pregnant and going through labor.  Adoption is a long journey but it’s so worth it.”

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