Indian Head Park mom headed to Haiti to meet new son
Ruthanne Focht has her hands full with two boys Andrew, 5, and Daniel, 4, but will soon be adopting a third son Manno, 4, from Haiti. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Job: Teaching students with emotional disorders in a self-contained classroom in Stickney
Loves of her life: Andrew, 5, Daniel, 4 and Manno, 4
Favorite decorating project: a super heroes-themed bathroom
Blog: Outnumbered at http://thefochtfamily.blogspot.com
For more info: http://www.projecthopeful.org/
Updated: September 24, 2012 4:31PM
INDIAN HEAD PARK — Even without the guest of honor, Ruthanne Focht and her sons celebrated their new brother’s fourth birthday with candles and a cake.
It may be six to nine months before adoption paperwork is processed for Manno, who turned 4 on Sept. 3, to leave an orphanage in Haiti and join his new family in Indian Head Park.
Anxiously awaiting his arrival are Andrew, 5, who just started kindergarten at Pleasantdale Elementary School near Willow Springs, and Daniel, 4, who attends preschool.
“The boys decorated and made a banner for Manno. We took video and sang to him,” Focht said. “We want him to know when he gets home and we can show him pictures and the video that we were thinking of him.”
Focht, a special education teacher for the La Grange Area Department of Special Education for 25 years, plans to visit Haiti and meet Manno early in October, and she can hardly wait.
From the moment she saw Manno’s picture and heard his story a year ago, she said she knew he was meant to be part of her family. He is HIV positive and two months younger than Daniel.
“Usually there’s a combination of three medications, and once you get him on the right meds, it’s really no different than other children on medication on a daily basis,” she said. “It’s not the death sentence it once was. Kids with HIV have a normal life expectancy.”
Manno will be Focht’s third adoption as a single mom. She brought home Andrew at 8 months from Guatemala and Daniel when he was 20 months old from Ethiopia.
Focht takes being a single mom in stride.
“My family is out of town, but I have wonderful support here from friends, and I don’t know anything different,” she said. “I’ve just always been a single mom.”
Focht said she decided to adopt Manno after seeing a video from Project Hopeful, an organization advocating for kids with HIV, Down syndrome or other conditions considered by some as children more difficult to be adopted.
Focht said she’s about halfway to her goal of $15,000 to adopt Manno after partnering with a friend in La Grange to host a series of garage sales. She created a Facebook page, Hoarders for Haiti, to help sell some of the items donated for her sales and has used other online sites.
“People were very generous and had donated some pretty nice items, some really high ticket items,” she said.
Focht also is promoting graphic items she designed for sale and Mixed Bag, a fundraiser with accessories from recycled materials. She welcomes donations to help her bring Manno home.
“Manno speaks Creole and is learning English,” she said. “He’s at a fantastic care center where they take such good care of him. He goes to preschool and is taught by an American teacher, and he speaks five- to six-word sentences.”