Adoptions of Haitian children may take many long months—even years—but because of the catastrophic earthquake earlier this month, which killed at least 150,000 people in Port-au-Prince, orphans are being whisked to safer places, including Colorado. “This is the mercy flight now,” Governor Bill Ritter tells 9News. After a week of planning and waiting, 32 Haitian orphans arrived at Denver International Airport, some of whom were instantly taken to the hospital for care. “They’ve been battered and torn and up,” says Sharen Ford of the Colorado Department of Human Services’ Child Welfare Division. Others have been taken to new homes, like the girls going to the Marvin family’s house in Colorado Springs, where they’ll have three new brothers.
U.S. and Haitian authorities have expedited visas for about 900 orphans in all, reports the Colorado Springs Gazette. Adoptions have also been hastened in several other countries, including Canada, Britain, and France, but not everyone is pleased. Several organizations—including Save The Children, World Vision, and the British Red Cross—have called for a temporary halt on adoptions until sustained efforts have been made to locate the families (via Scotland’s Scotsman). “Taking children out of the country would permanently separate thousands of children from their families—a separation that would compound the acute trauma they are already suffering,” says Jasmine Whitbread, Save The Children’s chief executive. The United Nations warns that some Haitian children have been abducted from hospitals by human traffickers taking advantage of the chaos to trade “orphans” on the international adoption market.