Haitian adoptees adjusting to life in Willowbrook

January 11, 2011 4:23:11 PM PST
Wednesday marks the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. More than 220,000 people died and more than 1 million were left homeless.

The country is still struggling to recover.

Some children from Haiti were adopted and now have new lives here in the US. ABC7's Eric Horng spent part of the day with a woman in suburban Willowbrook with two adopted children from Haiti.

For Kim Lewen and her daughters, the pieces just fit. It's been nearly a year since 4-year-old Benciana and her two-year-old sister Sandina left their homeland.

Lewen was in the middle of adopting the girls when the quake struck. She learned their orphanage had survived but was not out of the woods.

"They ended up not being able to get supplies, and they were running out of food," Lewen said. "They were like a day away from no food."

With the help of the Haitian government, donors and aid groups. Chicago-based agency Adoption-Link arranged a flight just nine days after the quake for Benciana, Sandina and other adopted children.

When they stepped off the plane in Florida Lewen was there to meet them.

The single mother and computer programmer says the girls have adjusted well.

"My girls eat a lot of food," said Lewen. "And they've just been growing, growing, growing. And it's hard to imagine that to us, that's nothing...We live in a lucky place."

Right after the quake, prospective parents flooded Adoption-Link with calls, but interest declined as Haiti dealt with the influx of newly-orphaned children.

It's a process that's now complete.

"Even though it's a year later, now these kids are finally legally available to be adopted and need homes," said Heather Breems, Adoption-Link.

Lewen says Benciana hasn't forgotten her homeland.

"I told her we'll go back when she's big, and so every day for a while she was telling me, 'I'm getting bigger, Momma', " said Lewen.