SEATTLE - Aid groups report the Haiti earthquake created tens of thousands of new orphans. There is a surge of families here at home wanting to adopt children and bring them to safety.
Adoptions of Haitian orphans already in the pipeline before the quake are being processed more quickly now. But if you're interested in adopting a child since the earthquake, experts say do your homework when it comes to agencies and prepare for a process that could take years.
Little Sophie Sigrist is stepping into her new life with her new mom in a whole new country.
"I got her December 7," says mom Myka Sigrist, who waited four years to bring home her baby girl. But Sigrist says it was well worth the wait.
"I'm so glad it didn't go faster because we wouldn't have gotten her," she said.
Today it's hard to see the images and not want to bring a Haitian child home, which is why international adoption agencies are getting flooded with calls from well-meaning people wanting to do just that.
World Association for Children and Parents in Renton facilitates adoptions in eight countries. Haiti is not one of them, but the calls are still coming in.
"They are very interested in knowing if there's any way they can help, if there are orphans needing families," says Lillian Thogersen, CEO of WACAP.
You can open your heart and your home, just be prepared to wait.
"They probably won't be getting a child from Haiti that became orphaned as a result of this earthquake anytime soon," says Thogersen.
That's because in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, it's hard to determine if a child is truly an orphan. That means not just ruling out parents, but extended family as well. Experts say that process alone could take up to 18 months.
WACAP facilitated adoptions with Thailand after the 2004 tsunami, with lots of people called wanting to adopt. In Thailand, the adoption process was much longer, given the country's state of disarray after the disaster.
For more information on adoptions in Haiti, visit http://www.adoptions.state.gov/country/haiti.html