For Maryland couple waiting to adopt, Haiti earthquake brings a blessing
Saturday, January 22, 2011; 1:22 PM
Four-year-old Ila Yslande Ann Hubner waddled into the Frederick County Courthouse the other morning, arms flailing, legs kicking this way and that, babbling about the Cookie Monster.
"Everything is 'Cookie Monster,' I don't know why," said Christie Hubner. A year ago, when Hubner and her husband, Dave, took custody of Ila, she knew nothing about Cookie Monster. She was an orphan in Port-au-Prince, frightened, hungry and stranded in the rubbled aftermath of the Haitian earthquake.
A judge legally blessed the Hubners' adoption Thursday, completing a four-year quest that seemed endlessly maddening before it turned magical.
"Ila, do you want to say something?" asked Maryland Circuit Court Judge G. Edward Dwyer.
"Hi," she answered, her voice as light as a feather.
"Congratulations," the judge said. "You're now official."
Ila's path to Frederick, where she lives with two siblings and her adoptive parents, has been long and arduous. Abandoned by her mother as an infant, she lived in an orphanage in the Haitian capital that was upended during last year's massive quake.
The Hubners - she was a museum curator before becoming a mother, he's a director for an aircraft owners and pilots association - began the adoption process in 2006, but their custody of Ila was delayed by one confounding bureacratic snafu after another.
Initially, the Hubners say, they were told they would get Ila in seven or eight months, but the time frame kept expanding as Haitian officials cited the need to make one more effort to find the girl's mother.
"They'd say, 'She may be in a village four hours from here, or a 12-hour donkey ride,'" Dave Hubner recalled. For months, they worked with one Haitian official, only to learn that he had no authority to give them Ila.
The massive earthquake on Jan. 12, 2010, moved officials to speed up dozens of Haitian adoptions. Eleven days after the quake, a U.S. military aircraft delivered Ila to the airport in Orlando, where the Hubners were waiting with a pink car seat.
"If it wasn't for the earthquake, she'd still be there," Dave Hubner said. "Out of tragedies come blessings."