Hesston On Monday afternoon, Jan. 18, 17-year-old Junior Oranvil Miller sat by a fire. His hands were gloved and his head covered by the hood of a Kansas University sweatshirt, atop a polo shirt layered over a long-sleeved T-shirt. Next to him, Junior’s adoptive dad, Scott Miller, sat in jeans and a T-shirt.
Junior was chilly and tired — but happy. His dark brown eyes have seen more in 17 years than most Americans will see in a lifetime — poverty, chaos and destruction.
Just more than a week ago, a natural disaster almost dashed his dreams of becoming Scott and Wanda Miller’s adopted son and brother to Levi, 17, Karla, 15, and Joe, 12.
Junior’s journey to the Millers’ couch started in 2003, when Scott took his first mission trip to Haiti through a nondenominational Christian organization called Haiti Lifeline Ministries, with headquarters in Hesston.
“When you go to Haiti, it will change your life,” said Scott, pastor of Kingdom Life Ministries church. “It captures your heart.”
When Miller arrived at Centre of Children’s International Lifeline Orphanage in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Croix-des-Bouquets, he met Junior Oranvil, 10.
Junior’s father had died, and his mother, with several older children, was unable to care for him. Until 5, Junior was in the care of his godmother, who eventually determined she could not care for him.
He went to the orphanage run by Nicole Dieudonne, a Haitian woman educated in the U.S. who felt called back to Haiti to serve her people.
The Millers started the process to adopt Junior in 2003. Two years and several thousand dollars later, a huge setback almost convinced the Millers to cease their adoption efforts.
During a political uprising in Haiti, the building in which Junior’s adoption documents were stored was destroyed — riddled with bullet holes. It would take another three years to wrap up the process.
In January, the Millers were waiting on the very last step — receiving their visas to pick up their new son. When the earthquake hit Jan. 12, they thought all hope was lost. In reality, it worked to expedite Junior’s departure.
The American missionaries started working on getting the 21-member Haiti Lifeline Ministries team out of Haiti. Back in Kansas, the Millers started working with Sen. Sam Brownback’s office on getting Junior a ride home with the missionary team.
Two days after the quake, the missionary team was waiting at the airport for a ride home. Six team members got on the plane, but it would not wait for the others, including Junior.
The remaining team members and the boys from the orphanage went back to the U.S. Embassy to wait for another plane. Word came that Brownback’s office was close to getting Junior and six other orphans out of the country and to their waiting adoptive families. Finally, permission came, and on Friday evening, Junior and the other adopted orphans were on a plane bound for Miami.
After a couple of fog delays, Junior arrived at Kansas City International Airport at 7:55 a.m. Sunday.
“I just about died,” Wanda said. “It was so good to see him. It was just — wow — an end to this six-year adoption. It is still unbelievable.”