Eagle Mountain family hoping to bring Haitian children home
Utah family awaits word on speeding up adoptions
EAGLE MOUNTAIN — David Aitken finally has a chance to bring the three Haitian children he is adopting home to Utah.
First, however, his soon-to-be son Fabrice, 8, must be reunited with other children under the care of the Hope for Little Angels of Haiti orphanage. That won't be easy.
For the time being, all Aitken can do is wait and hope that plans set in motion in Utah will bring his Haitian family together soon.
"Right now we are on pins and needles," the Eagle Mountain resident said.
Aitken and his wife, Candice, started the adoption process in November 2008, after he visited the poverty-stricken country and came home with a vision.
"Once you go over and see them and spend some time with them, it's very easy to fall in love with them," he said.
First, Aitken, chief executive of HIT Web Design, convinced his company to sponsor the Hope for Little Angels of Haiti orphanage, matching employee donations each month. The Provo company is now the primary sponsor for the 68 orphans under the care of Hope for Little Angels, sending about $4,500 a month to the country.
Then the Aitkens decided to adopt Fabrice, along with 5-year-old Merlande and 4-year-old Nerlande, to add to their family of five.
Aitken has visited the country several times to be with the children, taking his family with him on the most recent trip. "They are absolutely a part of our family now," he said.
So when Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced humanitarian parole for eligible Haitian orphans, Aitken saw a chance to bring his children to Eagle Mountain sooner than he had hoped — and to get them out of a situation that threatens their health and safety.
"We feel exactly how you would feel if your kids were away from you during a major earthquake," he said. "All the people who are going through this are feeling the same way."
The Aitkens rely on "short and spotty" e-mails from Harry Marde, an LDS Church bishop who works part time for the orphanage, to keep them up-to-date with what is happening with the orphans. They're hoping that Marde will be able to bring the children together in time for them to leave the country together.
When last week's earthquake hit, Hope for Little Angels was in the process of moving from Carrefour to better quarters to the north in Port-au-Prince.
Marde was able to gather together about half the children, those who had moved to Port-au-Prince, and they are now in the parking lot of a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse in Petionville, a suburb of the Haitian capital.
The rest of the children, including Fabrice, remain stranded in Carrefour, and six of them are still unaccounted for.
Aitken said his company has sent money to Haiti with one of the doctors with the LDS Church's emergency-response team. The team entered Haiti Tuesday, and Aitken is hoping the money will soon reach Marde so he can purchase fuel for his truck and make the arduous journey to Carrefour to retrieve the remaining orphans.
"We need to get the cash over there," he said. "We've been desperate for that group of doctors to arrive so Harry can go get our kids and then go looking for the six who are missing. If we were called to the embassy to bring the kids home, they need to be together."
The Aitken children are three of 10 from the orphanage who are in the process of being adopted by families in Utah. Five of those are among the six missing children.
"We just found out yesterday that the last two of our kids were safe," Aitken said. "There's no food, no water. The children have no one to hug them and tell them it's OK. They have to wonder what in the world is going on."
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