Lionel’s last name was not always Klassen. He assumed it as an adult because it took a decade for his adoptive parents Larry and Kathy Klassen to see God’s answer to prayer. Lionel and his brother were to be adopted as children, but a seemingly never-ending tangle of requirements in the adoption and immigration process stalled their arrival in Canada for years.
Living in a Haitian orphanage from three months of age, Lionel arrived at his adoptive home in Canada at age 23. After living with the Klassens for two years, he and his brother moved to their own place in Abbotsford, B.C. Lionel is now 32, married, is father to a young child, and has worked at a poultry hatchery for eight years.
Lionel, who is often in contact with Haitian children, especially teens, says, “I try to be a big brother to them.” He speaks with pleasure about his efforts to keep teenagers on track when they don’t apply themselves at school, or start looking at temptation. He points out the differences between staying the course in Canada and the life they had in Haiti.
“If I hadn’t had faith there, it would have been different,” he says. The knowledge the Klassens wanted him and his brother as part of their family kept his hope and faith strong. “I always had hope. God has been good to me,” he says.
Lionel now attends a church in Vancouver, but keeps in touch with his family. And, to honour his adoptive parents, he’s becomea Klassen.