Published April 11, 2012
"I am certain they would have died," said Michael Owens of his two newly adopted sons from Haiti. "Or they certainly would have been in the street."
Last month, Owens and his wife, Carmen, finalized their adoptions of 13-year-old Stanley and 9-year-old Kensly, more than two years after a massive earthquake in Haiti destroyed the boys' orphanage outside of Port-au-Prince.
"It was scary," said Kensly, who was just seven years old at the time. "It started to shake and I started running. We slept outside for a few days."
The earthquake struck on January 12, 2010. On January 18, Stanley, Kensly and their friend and fellow orphan Fekens, 10, were part of a group of children flown out of Haiti in a dramatic emergency airlift, coordinated by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.
"That plane was loud," said Kensly.
The plane was meant for children who had already been matched with adoptive parents in the U.S. and Canada. However, twelve children in the group, including Stanley, Kensly and Fekens, were not yet matched.
"From what we understood, they shouldn't have been taken out of Haiti," said Eileen Dusch, who adopted Fekens on March 23, 2012, the same day the Owenses adopted their sons.
"They were the extra twelve that were on the plane, that weren’t supposed to be there," said Fekens new father, Michael Dusch.
Rendell, along with two Pittsburgh women who ran the orphanage in Haiti, refused to leave the unmatched children behind. At the last minute, the U.S. State Department relented, and scrambled to get the kids the necessary paperwork to enter the U.S.
"The others will go to Catholic charities and won't have any problem getting adopted," Rendell told Fox News at the Port-au-Prince airport, the night of the flight out of Haiti.
Fekens, Stanley and Kensly are the last of the unmatched kids to be adopted. They spent a year living at Holy Family children's home in Pittsburgh, before going home with their new mothers: two women who had been helping to care for the boys at Holy Family. Mrs. Dusch works as a manager at the home. Mrs. Owens is a volunteer, and is already mother to six other children.
"We have eight children now. And I think we can honestly say that our family is now complete," said Mrs. Owens. "I thought it was complete before, until we met these two. Now, we know it's complete."
The boys now have new last names. Their next step is new nationalities. However, according to U.S. immigration law, they can't apply for American citizenship yet because there is a two-year waiting period from the date of their adoption.
"We've waited a long time,” said Mr. Owens. “No one can take them away from us now."