Adopted from Haiti at the age of six, Watson George grew up a world away from his homeland in Washington state. Now a freshman at Anderson University majoring in Bible and religion, he has a strong desire to return to Haiti to help fill the needs of this struggling nation.
“I was originally pursuing a career in criminal justice, but after going back and seeing my family — their pain and hurt and suffering — I just wanted to help them,” said Watson. “So, I spoke to the missionary that first found me, and she suggested studying Bible and religion.”
Betty Snyder, the missionary who helped Watson and his sister CeCe find an adoptive family, is someone he has always looked up to. “She’s my hero; I call her Mama Betty now,” he said. Snyder found Watson and his sister, then ages four and three, lying in their dirt hut when she went looking for their older sisters who had not shown up for school. “I was so malnourished that they didn’t even think I was going to live for a month,” said Watson.
Because of Watson’s failing health, he and CeCe were separated. Watson was placed in an orphanage, where he remained for about a year and a half. “Meanwhile, God was really working in everything,” said Watson. His adoptive father, Charlie George, felt called to go on a mission trip to Haiti, but he actually had no intent of adopting children. “I just wanted to get out of my comfort zone and thought that Haiti sounded interesting,” said Charlie.
Charlie connected with Snyder on the trip, and she took him to the orphanage where CeCe had been placed. “Right away, my sister clung to my adoptive dad and just would not let go, and soon he asked Betty if she was able to be adopted,” said Watson. When Snyder explained that CeCe was adoptable but had a brother in another town, Charlie decided to meet Watson as well.
“I actually had no contact with my wife while I was in Haiti for two weeks,” said Charlie. Upon his return to the United States, he immediately called his wife and told her what had happened. They talked and prayed about it, and in February of 2000 they filed papers with the Immigration and Naturalization Service to legally adopt Watson and CeCe. “They ran our adoption through quicker than anyone we’ve ever talked to, so we got to pick the kids up in August,” said Charlie.
Watson loved growing up in America, but there was a part of him that wanted to visit Haiti and reunite with the rest of his family. During his junior year of high school, he became determined to make that a reality. He decided to lead a trip for a large group from his church and didn’t let the cost of $20,000 deter him. “It all came in with money left over,” said Charlie.
Before Watson and Charlie left for the trip, they had been praying that Watson could reunite with his birth father. “We got to his village, and his dad was still alive and was the first one to come see him,” said Charlie. “His dad was so proud; he kept going around to everyone saying ‘Watson, my son, has come back!’ He was so happy, and it brought a lot of healing for both of us.” While they were there, Watson was also baptized in the Caribbean Sea by a Haitian pastor and his home church pastor, while both parts of his family looked on.
Watson feels blessed to have had the opportunity to grow up in America, while still being involved in his Haitian background. “You’ve got to understand that most kids in Haiti don’t live past six years old, let alone get out of there. God just opened this door for me,” said Watson. His father has also enjoyed helping raise Watson into the man he is today. “It has been an amazing journey to watch,” said Charlie.
The next step in Watson’s journey will be returning to Haiti after he graduates from AU. “I would like to return as a missionary, maybe planting churches or acting as a pastor. Not only influencing and spreading God’s love in Haiti but also spreading it here,” said Watson. “Helping others to live a life that glorifies God is my mission.”
— Marissa Phillips is a senior from Brookville, Ohio, majoring in communication arts. Phillips is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.