Meanwhile, I had left the hospital to go back in search of her parents, who, when I found them, could hardly believe their daughter had survived. But it would be more than a month before Nadine Devilme and Junior Alexis would hold Jenny again. It took that long to convince the necessary authorities that they were her parents, and to secure the travel documents they needed to join her.
It’s only now, sitting in their sunny one-bedroom apartment in North Miami, that Nadine apologizes for not telling me that she had left behind a five-year-old son by another man she was with before Junior. She had kept her son’s existence secret from everyone – from immigration and from the organizations helping her leave – for fear of losing her chance to join Jenny.
Not a day goes by that she doesn’t think about him, she says. He’s living with his godmother in Port-au-Prince – his father died in the quake. Nadine doesn’t regret leaving Haiti behind, but she aches for her son, whom she’s seen only once since she left in 2010, and that was just for 10 days last summer. She would go more often if she could, she says with a bit of angst, but money is tight.
After Jenny’s medical treatment ended, Nadine and Junior were able to remain in the US through Temporary Protected Status afforded to Haitians following the quake. This allows them to work and travel, but they’ve had trouble making ends meet. Nadine was recently let go from her job as a chambermaid at a nearby hotel for medical reasons related to her pregnancy – she’s due this July. That leaves Junior to shoulder their bills; his salary from restaurant work barely covers their monthly expenses. The car they had was totaled earlier this year when a truck ran into it. Fortunately no one was seriously hurt.