When Lisa Harper was five years old, her father left her, her mother, and her sister. Various men came in and out of her family over the next two years. They molested Lisa and her sister, and the abuse left Lisa with a feeling of worthlessness.
“I thought this must be my identity,” she recalled years later.
As she got older, her past caused her to enter relationships with men who were abusive to her. Although she’d always wanted to be a mother, it was biologically impossible for her by the time she was in a healthy enough mental state.
She’d always wanted to adopt, but people– including Lisa’s friends– told her that, as a single woman and as a survivor of sexual abuse, it wasn’t a good idea. One friend even suggested she just adopt a dog instead.
“Because of the places where I was broken when I was younger, that made sense to me,” said Lisa.
It wasn’t until seven years later that Lisa finally decided to adopt— despite what others might think.
She received a placement, but just five days before the child was set to arrive in her home, it fell through. Lisa was heartbroken.
That’s when Lisa got a phone call from a friend who had just returned from Haiti.
Her friend had met a little girl in Haiti named Missy. Missy had HIV, cholera, and tuberculosis. Her mother had recently died, and if someone didn’t take over care of Missy soon, she would die within the next few months.
Lisa immediately knew Missy would become her child. Within weeks, she was in Haiti.
Upon meeting Lisa, two-and-a-half-year-old Missy wasn’t immediately impressed. But after a bit of staring into her eyes, Missy reached up, grabbed Lisa’s finger and said, “Hello, mama blanc,” which translates to, “Hello, white mama!”
“Literally the topography of my heart changed,” says Lisa.
It was a long process getting Missy home.
Lisa had to temporarily put Lisa in an orphanage. The nurses there thought that if they touched Missy they would contract HIV themselves and eventually die. Upon later returning to Haiti to visit Missy, Lisa discovered the child hadn’t been held in four months.
Now, Missy is 8 and lives in Tennessee with Lisa. She’s a healthy weight, her HIV is totally undetectable, and there’s not a single sign of Tuberculosis within her lungs. Lisa calls her a “little warrior princess” and attributes her own personal healing to caring for Missy.
“She just needed love and medicine,” says Lisa. “I’m the one who really needed healing.”
It turns out, these two people from different parts of the world needed each other. Watch the video below to hear more of their story.
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