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Orphans arrive from Haiti, await adoption

January 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
More than 50 orphans arrived in the U.S. from Haiti and are already in the adoption process with American families.One by one, the 53 orphans of Haitiwere carried off the plane. Their rescue captured the attention of the world. Their plane touched down just before 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Many were wearing shorts, sundresses, sandals and wrapped in blankets.

"It was a tough week living in a driveway with children. The fact that we're here is certainly worth it. I'm so proud to bring these kids back," said Ali McMutrie of Ben Avon, Pa.

Ali and her sister Jamie cared for the orphans, many of whom called them mom. Both refused to leave the children behind when the earthquake hit.

"When we found out that everyone was okay and everyone was alive, we knew we had to take action. I never imagined this is how it would turn out," said Ali.

The rescue was filled with challenges. Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and other local leaders worked to bring them home. They were on the plane that landed in Port-au-Prince Monday night along with a team of medical personnel.

"When we got on ground, there was confusion about how many orpahns could be given visas to go to us," said Rendell.

In the end, 53 children, most under 4 years old and in good medical condition, all arrived to the U.S. safely. They were ready to be transported to Children's Hospital.

Doctors say many of these children will be arriving with little or medical records.

The first priority will be to check for dehydration, injuries and infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B and tuberculosis.

Through a series of medical evaluations, doctors will also be observing for development, hearing and socialization, which are all important steps in the adoption process.

Each child will wait in nearby foster homes until their adoptions are complete.

"I think I'm dreaming, and I don't know when I'm going to wake up, but I'm just really happy to be here, and all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm happy to be alive, and I'm happy to be here," said Ali.

Eyewitness News has learned that 40 of those children will be adopted by American families, and seven will be adopted by Canadian and Spanish families.

Child welfare officials are looking for adoptive families for the remaining children.