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For Md. couple, dream of adopting Haitian orphan comes true
The next morning, they drove up the Florida coast with Manning in a rented minivan.
Christie swiveled her body so she could look at Manning in the seat behind her. The four-hour road trip was the perfect time to get Manning's advice: How early would Ila be used to waking up? Would she be potty-trained? Where was the best place for her to sleep? How do you style black hair? How much misbehavior should they tolerate, and how soon should they start taking a firmer line? How soon should they introduce her to other children?
They reached the airport about 3 p.m. and found a gathering crowd of parents. At 4:45, word spread that the children's plane was about to land. There was a race outside to the chain-link fence blocking off the tarmac from the parking lot. A gray C-17 rolled by, its engines still screaming as the backdoor flap slowly lowered open. One by one, tiny children started to emerge. David wiped the tears running down his face.
Back inside the terminal, the parents chatted excitedly, certain that they would be told any minute who was on the plane. An hour passed. Then another.
At 6:50 p.m., a TV cameraman who had been allowed a brief visit to the room where the children were staying set his camera on a tripod and pressed play. The parents gathered around, trying to get a glimpse of their children.
There was a shriek of surprise. Dawn Shelton, 39, of St. Paul, Minn., had been told that neither of her two children would be on the plane. But there, clear as day, was Patricia, 9. Patricia's younger brother had not made it. "I can't even imagine his face as he watched her leave him," Shelton said, sobbing.
At 10:45 p.m., Christie Hubner curled on the floor, pulling a fuzzy pink blanket she'd brought for Ila around her body. Fifteen minutes later, she sat up, unable to sleep.
At 4:45 a.m., Manning was able to get into the room where the children were sleeping. "I've seen your Ila!" she whispered to the Hubners.
Soon after, the first children trooped into the lobby. The parents cheered.
But it wasn't until 1:45 a.m. the next day that the Hubners finally walked out with Ila, all three equally bleary-eyed. "Bye-bye, airport," Christie Hubner murmured. "I hope we never have to see you again."