Haiti earthquake struck as Harlem couple

Normal, Weekender
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By STEPHANIE GASKELL

A Harlem couple in the middle of adopting two children from Haiti feared the worst when news of the quake broke and they could not reach the orphanage in Port-au-Prince.
Then came sweet relief after Duke and Lisa Scoppa finally got through and learned the little boy and girl they hope to bring to New York are fine.
But that was soon replaced by worry for the kids’ safety and concern that the adoption would be delayed or derailed by chaos in the children’s homeland.
“We are very distraught,” Lisa Scoppa, 36, told the Daily News. “We were in Port-au-Prince just 10 days ago. And now it’s all gone.
“It’s completely heart-wrenching,” she said.
The couple, who work in the film industry, were planning to travel to Haiti in the next few weeks for the last step in the painstaking adoption process: picking up 4-year-old Erickson and 4-month-old Therline.
When the monster quake struck, the orphanage – 15 miles from the epicenter – was badly damaged.
It took hours for the Scoppas to get through by phone, but they reached a staffer Tuesday night who had good news: Everyone had survived.
Still, the couple hasn’t been able to talk to the kids, and they’re particularly worried about the infant girl, who has been sick.
“She’s so small and fragile,” the mum-to-be said.
She also is fretting about the status of the adoption because many of the orphanage records were destroyed, and the Haitian government is overwhelmed.
“We really don’t know where we stand,” she said.
The Scoppas aren’t alone.
Across the country, Americans
are in the process of adopting children from Haiti.
Melanie Fauchet, 49, a nurse from upstate Rochester, is waiting to take home 10-year-old Denilson Jose, who survived only to face a bleak situation.
“We’re trying to get there,” Fauchet said. “But I know how bad the country is, even without an earthquake. We finally found out the kids were okay, except now they do not have any access to food or water.”
Diana Boni, the Haiti program coordinator for Kentucky Adoption Services in Owensboro, Ky., said agencies are scrambling for funds to assist the kids.
“Right now, what we need is financial aid to keep these children alive,” she said. “We’re trying to evacuate children. I do not want any more Haitians to die because of bureaucratic paper delays.”
Meanwhile, there is certain to be a new wave of orphans whose parents were killed by the quake or are too badly injured to care for their kids.
In Brooklyn, Councilwoman Letitia James (D, WFP-Fort Greene) said she is working with federal officials to make sure those children find new homes as soon as possible.
“Fifty % of Haiti’s population is under the age of 21, and 39% of that is under 15. A lot of them are now orphans. They’ve got family members here, and there’s a lot of New Yorkers who would like to adopt.
“From what I know, the adoption process is a nightmare. It can take years. We need to expedite that process and create a smooth transition.” – DAILY NEWS