Ric and Lynelle Detlefsen met 12 year-old Schneider while on a mission trip to Haiti in April 2011. He and 29 other orphans were being cared for by a crippled, 70-year-old Haitian woman in an unlicensed orphanage in Port-au-Prince. Schneider was dropped off at the orphanage at the age of three and had grown very close to the other children there.
The couple formed a bond with Schneider and asked the woman if he could be adopted. Initially, she said no, but later pulled them aside and said she had a change of heart. Lynelle says, “We knew he was a Christian, so we asked him to pray about the idea of us adopting him. We told him that we would be coming down regularly and he could give us an answer at another time. When we came down five months later, he told us that he would like to be adopted.”
The Detlefsens ran into another roadblock when they were told that Haiti would not approve the adoption since Schneider was not at a licensed orphanage.They began working with America World Adoption, who found a licensed orphanage that would take Schneider.“Every time we would run into obstacles, God just said, ‘Keep going.’ He always provided the answers.”
In September 2014, three years after they began the process of adoption, 15-year-old Schneider came home to his new family in Loveland, Colorado. The Detlefsens knew that Schneider was a social teenager, but he needed tutoring before he was ready to go to an American high school.
Not long after Schneider’s arrival, their neighborhood had a potluck picnic where the Detlefsens met Robert and Kitty Moore, members at Faith. Lynelle knew about Faith’s connection to Haiti from taking Creole lessons with two Faith missionaries. Kitty suggested that Schneider try out Encounter, Faith’s high school group that meets on Sunday nights. “She told us that some of the students had been to Haiti, so it might be a really good fit for him.”
The Faith teens were thrilled to have Schneider join them, some even used their limited Creole to communicate with him. Lynelle says, “He loves it here! The students were very welcoming, and he now has a place to hang out with kids his own age. He doesn’t fit in a lot of places, so for him to fit into a youth group is huge.”
The Faith students have formed a bond with Schneider and regularly text him throughout the week. In January, he started school at Heritage Christian Academy in Fort Collins. Lynelle says, “So far, Encounter is his favorite thing about America.”