The last three Haitian orphans brought to Pittsburgh in a dramatic airlift after a devastating earthquake rocked that country on January 12, 2010 were officially adopted by two Pittsburgh families today.
"Hit on that," Judge Lawrence O'Toole instructed 12-year-old Fekens Soffrant Dusch, handing him a gavel and pointing where to strike it, after concluding the adoption proceedings in Allegheny County Orphans Court.
Fekens, now officially the son of Michael and Eileen Dusch, of Bon Air, enthusiastically complied as family and friends broke out in applause
Mike and Carmen Owens of Wexford have adopted Carll Stanley Printemps Owens, 13, and his younger brother Kensly Printemps Owens, 9.
The three children had been living at Holy Family Institute in Emsworth before they were placed with both families last year. They were the only ones not already involved in adoption proceedings when the earthquake struck the island and destroyed the Bresma Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, so their adoptions took longer to finalize.
They were among 54 children flown to Pittsburgh in a dramatic rescue just days after the earthquake, led by then-Gov. Ed Rendell. Eighteen were brought to Holy Family Institute in Emsworth, and within the first week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement finalized the adoptions of six of the 18 children, arrangements that had been in process before the earthquake struck.
The remaining 12 children, ages 11 months to 12 years, lived at Holy Family, where they received counseling and schooling. Creole-speaking staff were hired and they were eventually transitioned into area public schools in October 2010. The majority of the children spoke and understood minimal English when they entered the U.S., but by the time the last of the children left Holy Family in April 2011, they were all proficient in English. The other Haitian children were placed with families in Illinois and Colorado.
First Published March 22, 2012 5:30 PM