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A long journey out of danger

The roads are steep and winding. The address is cryptic (as addresses in Haiti tend to be). And whenever we stop for directions, people say the only way to find our destination is if they come in the car and show us.
 
But to a person, people we ask know of God's Littlest Angels, one of the larger orphanages in Port-au-Prince, with a reputation among foreigners as a good place to find sons and daughters.  We finally arrive at a metal gate that looks like all the others in the dusty lane, in front of a two-storey house perched on a hill in the Petionville district of the capital.
 
The place seems intact. The city and the country may have suffered devastation from the earthquake. There may be shortages of clean water, and riots at food depots, but the only commotion here is the kind you find in a busy playground anywhere - babies in the arms of women (Haitian and foreign), toddlers kicking balls and hunting down the shiniest toys.
 
This is the sort of place where the story of Canada's latest adoptees starts - Haitian youngsters with either no parents, or whose parents cannot or will not take care of them. This is one of the way-points in young lives that will continue on to the Netherlands or Sweden or the UK or the U.S., or Canada.
 
This the kind of place where children wait while the long and complicated search for suitable parents is carried out, while documents are collected, created and filed, while judges and lawyers and international adoption agencies play their role (well or otherwise), while prospective parents travel in from half-way around the world to see whom they may one day be able to take home (they are often escorted here through the streets of Port-au-Prince under armed guard - such is the nature of Haiti).
 
The wait can take anywhere from a couple of years to five or six, maybe more.  It often seems a miracle that it ends with a child in the arms of a loving family in Regina or Vancouver or Montreal, especially in the mayhem that is the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti.
 
But it happens. Two hundred and three children made it to Canada in the weeks after the disaster, and by all accounts, thrive.
 
This week, I visited three of these children in two families, and their stories are nothing short of encouraging.

Watch Saša's feature The Children of Haiti in our in-depth feature Haiti: Six Months Later.
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