Families worry about children's food, adoption papers

January 15, 2010 9:48:35 AM PST
Relieved their children are unhurt after the earthquake, two adoptive families now fear Haitian orphanages will run out of supplies- and the paperwork may be lost.The Haitian orphanage where the young boy Lisa Gregg and her husband are planning to adopt sustained only minor damage in the earthquake. All the children are OK.

"He's had quite a life and he's only 3," said Lisa Gregg. "And I keep saying we just want to get him home. He's three. Things can be smoother."

But how quickly they can bring him home is now in question. All the paperwork filed on the adoption may have been lost. She's grateful he's OK- but concerned about his immediate future.

"I am pretty clear headed and then you get an email that says they have three days of water," said Gregg.

Just a month ago, Gregg traveled to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, to meet Nelson, the lively 3-year-old she and her husband hope to adopt. Kim Lewen is also in the process of adopting two sisters, 1 and 3 years old.

"You think the worst things. And of course, you want to be there because you should. Because they're your children. And you should be with them," said Kim Lewen.

Adoption-Link out of Oak Park, Ill., -- one of six agencies in the U.S. that work with orphanages in Haiti-- arranged the adoptions for Gregg and Lewen. Both of the facilities the agency works have only minor damage. But, they are running out of food and water.

"We had recently shipped a giant sea container full of supplies and that was in customs at Port-Au-Prince and all those supplies are gone because of destruction or looting," said Heather Breems, Adoption-Link.

Another problem- the documents may have been lost.

"Probably all the documents were in the office in Port-Au-Prince, which has now collapsed, so we're working very hard to find a way to issue a new visa and passport here within the U.S. so that all we need is someone to go and grab the little girl and she can come home," said Breems.

And while there will be disruptions for children already in the process of being adopted, the earthquake has undoubtedly left many other children without parents.

"We expect great numbers of children are going to be deemed orphans and are going to need adoptive families," said Julie Tye, CEO, The Cradle.

Tye says the graphic images of destruction from Haiti will likely move many people to want to help by adopting newly orphaned children. But they will need patience.

"The evacuation, for example, parents may be looking for them. So we really have to find out are these kids truly parentless," said Tye.

Experts warn crises such as the one in Haiti is going through attract scam artists and say families should go through established adoption agencies.

To find out more about the organization Adoption Link, visit the website, adoption-link.org. To find out how you can help in the relief effort, email: haitirelief@adoption-link.org


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