Family Helps Adopted Haitian Children Keep Their Spiritual Heritage

February 3, 2010

Author: Manya Brachear

Source: San Jose Mercury News/The Chicago Tribune

Images of the washed out Haitian hillside where their children's relatives lived have led Peter and Paula Fitzgibbons to fear that their adopted son and daughter have no biological family left.

The strongest bond their chil dren Odeline and Sevvy may have to their homeland now is the way they "serve the spirits" and speak to God.

Every night since Jan. 12, when a devastating earthquake hit the children's homeland, the Fitzgibbons have assembled them in their Evanston, Ill., den for Vodou prayers, part of the couple's effort to preserve their children's ties to Haiti through a religion they argue has been misinterpreted and unfairly portrayed.

With Haitian tunes echoing from the kitchen, Odeline, 9, Sevvy, 8 and their 5-year-old sister, Isa, stand before an altar with their parents, light candles and call upon Papa Legba, the Vodou spirit and gatekeeper who admits other spirits into the sacred circle to hear the family's prayers.