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Haitian orphans reunited with adoptive parents

MANATEE — Two orphans who arrived here from Haiti, only to be whisked away from adoptive parents almost as soon as they turned up at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, have been reunited with their new families, officials said Wednesday.

“Everybody’s been released,” said Sara Eisenbart, an adoption coordinator.

The two children, known as Eli and Owen, arrived here Sunday, but were taken from their adoptive parents at SRQ and placed in a group home, officials said.

Now they are back with their adoptive families and headed to new homes in various parts of the United States, Eisenbart said.

The two were among a group of five from Haiti who arrived here after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

Three other children were able to go straight home with adoptive families from SRQ on Sunday, officials said.

Those who operate Haitian orphanages want to ensure that such bureaucratic snags do not reoccur, according to Jan Bonnema, executive director and co-founder of Children of the Promise, a charitable organization based in Prinsburg, Minn.

She argued earlier this week that the precious first hours after parents and children meet help them to bond, and should be respected.

“Unfortunately ... this was done in a manner detrimental to the children and parents,” she wrote on the organization’s Web site.

Officials are working to make sure such snags don’t happen again, she wrote.

Pat Smith, press secretary for the state Department of Children and Families, said all adoption processing would be done through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement.

“They’re the lead agency in processing children arriving from Haiti, to make sure they are placed with the correct families and receive the medical attention they deserve, and for security purposes, as well,” Smith said.

A local organization has agreed to accept 100 orphans and house them at a facility in East Manatee, but no information is available yet about when they might come, according to the Rev. Phil Derstine, pastor at Christian Retreat Family Church and Conference Center.

It’s possible that some of those who lead the organization’s missions, or members of their families, might arrive here first, said Ron Bauza, missions pastor for Christian Retreat Gospel Crusade, of which the church is a part.