For Md. couple, dream of adopting Haitian orphan comes true
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Shortly after midnight Monday, Christie Hubner scooped up the Haitian girl she had been waiting to adopt since 2006 and gazed into the toddler's eyes.
Three-year-old Yslande Dorsica -- soon to be renamed Ila Yslande Ann Hubner -- looked back at her new mother with an equally intense expression, then stretched her little mouth in a big yawn.
"Oh!" whispered Hubner. "Are you getting sleepy? I am, too. I don't think I've ever been awake this long."
Even before the Jan. 12 earthquake that reduced Ila's orphanage in Port-au-Prince to rubble, Hubner and her husband, David, had faced multiple bureaucratic delays. But for the Frederick couple and several dozen other adoptive parents who traveled to Florida from across the country over the weekend, perhaps no aspect of the ordeal seemed more excruciating than the wait to get custody of their children after a U.S. military airlift touched down at Orlando Sanford International Airport on Saturday afternoon.
As a handful of officials from the departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services struggled to sign off on more Haitian adoption cases in one night than they usually process in a year, the parents endured more than 36 hours of confusion, outrage and heartbreak. One parent was told her child might have pneumonia, then had to wait a day before seeing her. One child went missing, only to be found back in Haiti. Others who were not expected to be on the flight were discovered aboard.
Yet by the time it was over, the Hubners still considered themselves fortunate: Hundreds of orphans previously matched with parents in the United States or Europe remain in Haiti, where food is scarce and aftershocks continue. And officials estimate that the quake left tens of thousands more children without parents, in addition to an estimated 50,000 already living in orphanages before the disaster.
"I've gotten quite a few gray hairs out of this," said Christie Hubner, 34, who was facing a one- to two-year wait to complete Ila's adoption before the quake. "But it was all worth it."
No time to waste
Three days earlier, the Hubners were already beginning to look pale from worry and lack of sleep as they strode into Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport Friday morning. David Hubner, 36, balanced a newly purchased pink car seat on his suitcase.
About 9 p.m. Thursday, they had received a phone call warning them that the U.S. Embassy might not process Ila's visa in time to get her on the flight scheduled to take children from her orphanage, Maison des Enfants de Dieu, to Miami Saturday morning.
"So we're basically flying to Miami on faith," Christie Hubner said.
But as the plane lifted off, the couple's spirits seemed to rise. On the second leg of the trip, from Charlotte to Miami, Christie pulled out a paperback titled "Creole Made Easy" and flipped through the vocabulary list.
"Manman," she murmured as she reached the entry for "mother."