At least 7 of the 54 Haitian orphans who were evacuated to Pittsburgh are in their new home or on their way at this time. The adoptions of the 7 children, to 5 families, have been completed over the last 24 hours. Marc Cherna, Director of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, says these initial adoptions were nearly complete prior to the earthquake striking Haiti last Tuesday.
47 children remain in a comfort room at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh where they can eat and drink, play and sleep, while they wait for their adoptions to be completed or be placed in foster care temporarily. 47 of the 54 have adoption agreements including 2 year old Emma who wandered off before the jet flew out of Port Au Prince yesterday. Jamie McMutrie, one of two Ben Avon sisters who operated the orphanage, remained behind with Emma while arrangements were made to fly them to Pittsburgh. Jamie and Emma arrived this morning and Emma was given a medical checkup at Children's Hospital where she is fine.
Cherna says Homeland Security has jurisdiction over the process but he believes that all of the children will be adopted or placed in foster care within a week. Cherna says federal officials are overcoming many stumbling blocks...."There's a lot of missing documentation because things in Haiti are now destroyed, so it's been a real challenge. They (federal officials) have been very flexible in trying to reconstruct enough things so they can do a legal adoption."
Cherna says they've received hundreds of calls locally and from all over the country..."Everybody wants there children but the reality is we have plenty of children in the U.S. and in Allegheny County who are in need of adoptive homes. We're going to use this as a reminder there are plenty of children who would be great to have as a child and are in need of loving homes."
The Haitian orphans range in age from less than a year old to 15 with most less than 4.