Friday, January 29, 2010

Update again

Chareyl says they're still on the ground, waiting for packets from the embassy.

This article from the Deseret News seems to be the most accurate from what we've heard, so far.

There are some families that were notified yesterday that their families had not been granted humanitarian parole. They know who they are. It's not that they do not qualify, it's that they weren't processed "in time".

Thank you DN for printing accurate info:

Haitian children stand by waiting plane for clearance to fly to Utah

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — With a single signature, the prime minister of Haiti seems to have cleared the way for at least 50 Haitian children to leave their island nation to join the American families who are in the process of adopting them.

Joy that the days'—long logjam had apparently ended was tempered as Americans and Haitians haggled over how many children had completed the appropriate paperwork to leave. What started out early Friday with a report that 141 orphans would leave dwindled to 66 and then down to 52.

There were long faces and tears as 14 children were told they won't be going today because their paperwork isn't complete.

"It's so ridiculous," said an angry Chareyl Moyes of Ogden who is Wasatch International Adoptions program manager for Haiti. She has been in Haiti for days trying to deal with the paperwork. "All of the kids were approved, they just didn't make the list today."

Lindsay Crapo, who works with Foyer de Sion orphanage in Fontemara, explained to the 14 through translator Roosevelt Richard of Vernal that they still have a mommy and a daddy and that they'll just have to get them on another plane later.

Efforts to move the children through the U.S. State Department's "humanitarian parole" process to unite them with already-designated adoptive families had apparently stalled. But orphanage officials and Highland resident Steve Studdert, who arrived in here late Thursday night with the 130-member Utah Hospital Task Force, met with the Haitian president this morning and it got a jump start. Until the children are on the plane and in the air, however, those close to the story are hesitant to declare it a done deal.

The children have yet to board the plane.

"I'm not holding my breath yet," said David Aitken, an Eagle Mountain businessman who is adopting three children from Haiti. "We've been so close so many times in the past 48 hours. I'm almost afraid to hope. I don't think I can take it any more."

Early Friday, optimism was running high enough that tap-taps — the brightly colored little Haitian buses — were delivering the freshly scrubbed children from the Foyer de Sion orphanage to the flight line, where they were provided water as they sat on the tarmac waiting to load. Then, as it got hotter and time passed, volunteers told the children to hang onto a rope as they moved them to a red-and-white-striped tent near an empty terminal. Soon after, 17 members of the task force returned to the airport to care for and entertain the children while they wait.

Orphanage volunteer Scott Gordon, a Washington man with Ogden ties, expressed both joy and frustration. "It's a good deal. And it's a couple of days late. We took care of the paperwork, arranged our own flight and to have 25 layers of bureaucracy seems inappropriate at this point. I am extremely glad, though, that it's finally happening."

If nothing changes — and the situation has yo-yoed back-and-forth all week — the group is now expected to fly to Miami on the same Sun Country 737 that brought the task force to Haiti Thursday night. It's not yet clear what will happen once they go through customs in Miami. It is also unknown whether children bound for Utah and other Intermountain West states will fly on to Salt Lake City, as earlier planned, or if they will remain in Florida to be united with their adoptive families over coming days.

The children had been in the process of obtaining humanitarian parole status when Haitian and U.S. government decisions effectively froze the exodus of any children from the quake-torn country. But elected officials and advocates kept pushing. The final talks began as soon as the Utah Hospital Task Force touched down in Haiti late Thursday night and continued Friday morning.

Studdert, a former Reagan Administration official, had taken a sheaf of letters from U.S. and United Nations officials encouraging a decision to allow the children to leave. He and orphanage leaders met with Haitian officials at about 8:30 a.m. local time.

"The president of Haiti couldn't have been nicer," he said immediately after. "We are just waiting for the prime minister to return (he was reportedly in Canada). We have gone through all (the paperwork) and the ambassador has signed all of them."

The plane is expected to take off, filled with children, orphanage volunteers and two doctors recruited from the task force group that arrived to provide humanitarian relief. If there's room, several others who have been in Haiti trying to help are expected to hitch a lift home, including a Haitian native who lives in Vernal and a relief worker from Virginia.

Although the signature has been obtained, the children have not yet been allowed to board the plane. What happens after that won't be known until the group reaches Miami. The Utah group was speculating that some of the parents may not yet know their kids are coming.

Contributing: Elizabeth Stuart


Anonymous said...

Ksl's news radio guy who is at the airport just said that he couldn't talk because he needed to help get all 141 kids on the plane...I hope this is true for all of you. Good luck I am still praying for you.

Anonymous said...

I pray that all the children get to come soon. The wait is so hard!

My25Cents said...

Less than 40%?! I'm trying to be grateful, honestly, I am. That 40% is better than nothing -- but that other 60% is killing me.

praying and praying.

Anonymous said...

I know you are working to get all of them home Lori, and we all want that too. For those of us with a special interest in your family, I'm hoping you'll tell us that you did not learn yesterday that Nathan was not one of those that wasn't processed in time....

Mom of 3 Boys said...

How can they STILL be waiting? What would they do if it were their children waiting in the hot sun for over 4 hours? Prayers and tears and hoping and stretching my faith....

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