WAITING ( Vania is in the middle , blue/white dress )
Haitian children may be headed to Utah after all
By Dennis Romboy
Published: Friday, Jan. 29, 2010 8:10 a.m. MST
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — About 60 Haitian children appeared to be on their way to the United States this morning after Utahns say they obtained permission from the Haitian government to move them off the island.
Highland resident Steve Studdert, who arrived in Haiti late Thursday night with the 130-member Utah Hospital Task Force, met with Haitian government officials this morning. The meeting was the latest piece in a severely jumbled puzzle that may finally have come together in a way that will allow the children, most of whom are being adopted by Utahns, to join their new families.
The Army's 82nd Airborne Division was slated to transfer the children from the Foyer de Sion orphanage in Fontemara to the Port-au-Prince airport, where the plane that brought the task force to Haiti sat overnight. The early plan was for the children to fly to Miami for processing. The children had or were in the process of obtaining the humanitarian parole status they needed before Haitian and U.S. government decisions effectively froze the exodus of children from the quake-torn country.
It is unknown how soon the children would be united with their adoptive parents in Utah and other states. Parents had earlier hoped the children would fly directly to Salt Lake City, but word came Thursday that the children would have to spend a few days in a shelter in Florida.
The children's planned arrival at the Port-au-Prince airport this morning would end a weeklong, back-and-forth negotiation between the two governments. The final talks began as soon as the Utah Hospital Task Force touched down in Haiti late Thursday night and continued Friday morning. Parents and task force officials planned all along to have the children fly to the States on the same plane that brought the task force.
Studdert, a former Reagan Administration official, and orphanage leaders met with Haitian officials at about 8:30 a.m. local time.
Many of the children have been sleeping on a concrete driveway and in tents under banana trees at the orphanage overrun with children who lost their homes in the Jan. 12 earthquake.
Chareyl Moyes, a Wasatch International Adoption program manager for Haiti, has been at the orphanage since last week trying secure all the government-required paperwork.