FONTAMARA, Haiti — A group of 70 children headed for adoption in Utah and other states is sleeping on a concrete driveway and in tents under squatty banana trees as they wait in earthquake-induced limbo.
The Foyer de Sion orphanage is a loving madhouse. A total of about 180 children call the compound home, many from four orphanages crushed by the violent Jan. 12 quake. A dozen nannies are tending to infants, giving baths and making meals. Children occupied themselves Tuesday by jumping rope and kicking a ball.
The 70 children being adopted by families in Utah, Idaho and other states on Tuesday took a step forward and a step back from being united with their adoptive parents.
Ogden's Chareyl Moyes, Wasatch International Adoptions program manager for Haiti, has been in this suburb of Port-au-Prince since last week trying to get all the government-required paperwork in order. There was confusion Tuesday between Haitian and U.S. officials on foreign adoptions. Rumors that Haiti wants to stop them are not true, she said.
"The U.S. government called the halt, thinking that's what the Haitian government wanted," she said as dozens of children scurried in, out and around the two-story orphanage. "This is what we were told by the Department of State this morning on a conference call."
But what appeared promising Tuesday morning — the children would fly out Thursday — changed in the evening. Moyes said she was told to cancel her flight plans because, again, there was conflict, this time about the criteria for children to obtain "humanitarian parole." Until the two governments decide how to proceed, "the children will be the ones who pay," she said.
Because the rules change every hour, she said, she will decide today about the flight.
Moyes said she was initially told the Haitian government only wants to make sure the paperwork for each child is complete to the letter. She and Idaho resident Lindsay Crapo have pulled several all-nighters to comply. Crapo, child specialist for Hope for Little Angels of Haiti, oversees placement of 45 of the children.
"The plan was to fight like hell," said Crapo, who along with husband Trevor is adopting five of the youngsters. "We came in with as much ammo, you could say, as we possibly could to get these children humanitarian parole and get them out."
If things do fall into place today, an airplane chartered to bring 157 people from the Utah Hospital Task Force to Haiti on Thursday would pick up the children and bring them to Utah, Moyes said.
In the meantime Tuesday, some young children lay with their heads on older children's chests to pass the time. In the banana grove, the living arrangements consisted of a pickup truck bed liner, camping tents and tarps. A couple of young children appeared sick.
"I'm praying (the adoption) will work out because I cannot handle so many kids myself," said Guesno Mardy, who lost two of his three orphanages in the earthquake. "We have to love and support each other."
The food supply is diminishing, but the need isn't critical. Diapers, though, are gone. "I've kept enough diapers to get me on the airplane," Moyes said.
Adoptive father and former Ogden resident Scott Gordon flew to Haiti with Moyes and the Crapos. When he left his home in Washington state last week, word was that nannies took some of the children into the hills after the quake.
"I brought combat boots and was ready for a commando mission," he said. The last two Haitian children he and his wife, who is from Kaysville, tried to adopt died of malnutrition and infection before they could bring them home.
Gordon sat on the porch Tuesday with 2-year-old Averie on his lap and 6-year-old Destina not far away.
"I'm just going to stay here until I bring her home. I'm not going to let her off my lap," he said. "I'm going to stick it out, live on rice and warm water as long as I have to."