Story by Jacqueline Charles
Dan Cruz holds 7-year-old Angelene while visiting the U.S. embassy in Port-au-Prince on Friday. He and wife Julie became the first American couple to adopt a Haitian child under the country’s new international regulations.
The first time Dan and Julie Cruz met the little girl with the wide eyes and bright smile, she looked up, stretched out her arms and silently motioned to be picked up.
“It was an awesome moment,” recalled Dan, 35, about meeting Angelene, who was abandoned by her parents before her fourth birthday, and can neither hear, speak nor sign. “It was more than we could have ever imagined; lots of tears.”
The Cruzes encounter with then 5-year-old Angelene at a Port-au-Prince orphanage a year ago was among the steps in what U.S. and Haitian officials are now calling a moretransparent and predictable adoption process. It reached its culmination Friday as the family arrived at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince to get Angelene’s travel documents.
Instead of the old adoption visa, Angelene received an IH-3 Hague visa, signifying that Haiti had finally come into full compliance with the Hague Adoption Convention regulating international adoptions. Not only is 7-year-old Angelene the first Haitian adoptee to receive the special Hague visa — which will make her an automatic U.S. citizen as soon as her flight comes into U.S. airspace — but her new parents became the first Americans to adopt under the new inter-country regulations.
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