It’s a story repeated throughout the world and all too often it has a tragic ending—a baby unwanted by her parents. The plight of abandoned babies in Madagascar is the reason this base was started up in the first place: God powerfully spoke to Caroline Thomas about unwanted newborns being dumped on rubbish heaps and she came out here to rescue them and love them. So as soon as we heard there was a baby being born whose parents didn’t want her, Iris staff member Caitlin Lantz made sure she was there for the birth—after all, that is what Iris Madagascar is all about.
Caitlin, who has four beautiful children of her own, said: “I wanted to be at the baby’s birth to welcome her into the world with love instead of rejection. I wanted her to know she was loved from the very beginning.” She added: “In my experience, birth is such an anticipated occasion, enjoyed by extended family and friends. And, of course, having just given birth to my fourth, the joy of it all is fresh on my mind. “But this birth was different. The mother had been spending most of her recent time in bed to hide her pregnant belly and now they were giving birth secretly. Not even their family knew.” Caitlin cut the umbilical cord and held the newborn in her arms as soon as she was born. She said: “It was a very emotional experience, to see her so unwanted by her parents—they wouldn’t even look at her—and then to nurse and hold her as if she was my own. Expressing milk and nursing her was one way I could nourish and love such a precious little life. “She ate well and seemed happy and satisfied. We prayed over her, that she would know she was welcomed with LOVE into the world.” Over the next couple of weeks, Caitlin continued to express milk for the baby, who thrived and gained weight and looked wonderfully chubby and happy. Some missionary friends of Caroline’s had asked her to tell them if she came across a baby girl—they had been praying for a daughter. It was love at first sight. They named the newborn Joelle, which means “Jehovah is God”. The next step was the courts, where the judge would decide whether to allow the missionaries to have legal guardianship, or whether the baby should go into an adoption centre, where she would have to live for at least a year while the correct paperwork was completed. The Iris staff prayed and prayed, and we were overjoyed when the judge said the missionaries could have legal guardianship of Joelle and she could live with them immediately. Now this precious little girl, who was unwanted and rejected, has become the very much wanted (and prayed for) daughter of a Christian couple who are now showering her with love. Not only that, but she has five big brothers to dote on her! Caitlin said: “I am so thankful Joelle’s story has turned from rejected to WANTED and LOVED. She is a beautiful daughter of God and I pray she knows it for her entire life.” Caroline added: “Our beautiful little baby girl Joelle has gone to live in a new forever family today! She is with a lovely missionary family here in Madagascar who are living here long term. She looks really happy and has had the most amazing start in life! She was breastfed for her first week of life by the amazing Caitlin Lantz and is happy, healthy, growing and loved. Lovely!” “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…” (from Psalm 68).