Friend's Struggle to Get Daughter Safely Out of Haiti

The news footage from Haiti is almost unbelievable. Buildings in rubble, bodies and limbs scattered in the streets, children wailing. The Red Cross estimates that 50,000 people are dead.

My friend Lorraine has always feared for the safety of the daughter she is trying to adopt in Haiti. But now the situation is so dire, she is asking the world for help.

Here is her letter:

We started the process to adopt Samantha from Haiti in August 2007.
Due to red tape, corruption, and apathy by the Haitian government, an adoption process that we expected to take 9-12 months has continued to stretch longer with no end in sight. We have traveled to Haiti on 10 different occasions over the last 2 1/2 years–each time to visit and develop a bond with Samantha. Samantha will turn 10 in less than two weeks. She entered the orphanage just over three years ago. Her parents gave her up do to extreme poverty. We have met them and have seen firsthand the love they have for their daughter–so much love that they are willing to give her a better life that takes her away from them. Samantha is a wonderful gift they have given to our family.

It has been painful to watch her grow up in an orphanage–but we wouldn’t trade for anything the opportunity to know and love her over this period of extended delay. We are especially grateful that Lexi was able to travel to Haiti for the last three trips and at long last was able to meet and enjoy time with her big sister. We remain committed to bringing her home–no matter how long and difficult the road ahead will be.

My husband, Damien, and Lexi, were in Haiti from January 8th until January 12th. They were incredibly lucky to fly out just four hours before the earthquake struck. Damien was able to contact Samantha’s orphanage director just after the earthquake. He received news that she, and the other children, had come through it without injury. The day after the earthquake, Damien received a distressed email from this same orphanage director. While the children remain unharmed, they have no drinking water, are running low on food, and are unable to inhabit the severely damaged house. Thus far, they have seen no signs of assistance. The block wall that surrounds the orphanage toppled during the earthquake. If rioting begins as they fear, the children are fully exposed to the potential violence. This situation is dire.

We have been working alongside our adoption agency to identify sources of immediate rescue assistance from local non-profits, the UN, the US Dept of State, and/or the US Military. We are hopeful–but far from certain–that help will arrive in time to save all lives.

Beyond the near-term crisis, Haiti’s orphans are faced with a long and steep uphill battle. The Haitian government infrastrucure and many of the already over-flowing orphanages are in ruins. The paperwork supporting many of the in-process adoptions may have been destroyed. Barring unexpected leniency by the Haitian government as well as cooperation by US Immigration, It seems likely that current orphans won’t be united with their adopting families for an extended period. In addition, the Haitian orphan population grew (possibly dramatically) in size as the earthquake struck and took the lives of many Haitian parents. As the government begins to rebuild, adoptions–and badly needed adoption reform–are unlikely to be near the top of its priority list.

These conditions point to a huge need for near- and long-term funding for Haiti’s orphans.

Please contact Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office to ask that she put pressure on the Haitian government to allow pending adoptions to go through quickly so the children can get out of the country safely, 415-393-0707.
If you would like to help, here is a list of supplies that are needed at Samantha’s orphanage and drop off locations in and around Los Angeles.
Here are is a list of other organizations taking donations

Samantha is pictured above with the two Americans, Ali and Jamie, who run the orphange.

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