Jeff's Story

Life was perfect. Or so I thought.

I had built a successful career and made my mark as a person who could get things done. No mountain or obstacle could limit me; I could accomplish more in a single day than many could in an entire week.

My family was perfect and complete: a beautiful 3-year-old daughter and a newborn son. Yet my father unexpectedly shared a picture of a six-month-old Haitian girl who was in need of a new home. Seeing her face showed me a place of emptiness in my own life, and I immediately knew that I was called to adopt her.

But this desire met reality very quickly. In addition to the normal challenges of an international adoption–a language barrier, unfamiliar government structures, and different culture–my adoption was compounded by the fact that President Aristide’s government was collapsing. Riots were breaking out and people were dying. Up until this point, my success had largely been built upon my ability to get things done. But this was different. I had never met success at this level.

While all these challenges were continuing to rise around me, the internal struggles began to surface. Beyond the normal emotional roller coaster of an international adoption, I questioned whether or not I could really make this happen. I had serious doubts that the way I found success in the past would be enough to conquer the huge challenge in front of me.

An email from my Haitian attorney confirmed my suspicions of my own internal struggles: all government agencies were ceasing operations with no plans to reopen. He told me to consider my adoption indefinitely on hold. My world collapsed.

Now I knew for sure that if I was going to complete this adoption and give this baby a home of love, I had to change.

My way of getting things done would not work for what I was facing. This was more than checking off a to-do list and muscling things into reality; I needed a new plan. And I needed it quickly. The baby I was attempting to adopt was sick—and growing sicker every day.

I knew that if this baby was going to find a new home with me in the States, that I had to persuade others to agree with my perspective. But with the government shut down what could I do? I decided to fly to Haiti. Every day I would walk to the office for the signature that would set my adoption back on track. And every day I would walk back to my hotel disappointed that no one showed up. Until one day.

Finally, the person that I needed to sign the document showed up. And, as expected, my usual way of making things happen failed. Miserably. But through trial and error I began to understand what it would take to persuade this and every other government official needed to complete this adoption.

After six and a half months of this grueling process, I made it back to the United States—baby in my arms. I stood in the terminal of the Miami airport pausing to just take in the moment. I realized that finding this success came not from my ability to manipulate others and force things to happen. Rather, this success came through a new understanding of what persuasive communication is all about.

Awakened and valuing others more than ever, I now understood the superpower of persuasion; it is a beautiful thing.

And as I looked at my new daughter, I began to wonder–what will her life be like? What lives will she touch? How will the world be a better place because of her life? We’ve yet to learn exactly the ripple effect, but we do know that others will be impacted by this life and the transformation that began by simply looking at a photo and ended with a bit of persuasive communication.