PARIS – More than 100 children from Haiti arrived in France on Wednesday to start new lives with their adoptive families — an event some parents described as an early Christmas present.
Many children were bundled up in bright new winter coats, and some were wrapped in silvery reflective blankets to keep out the unaccustomed cold, as they arrived at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport from their Caribbean homeland.
The French government had chartered a plane to bring adoptive families to Haiti to pick up 113 children from the country, which is still reeling from a January earthquake and now a deadly cholera epidemic.
Adoptive mother Isabelle Frapat, holding 15-month-old Mael in her arms, told reporters the experience was "pure happiness, and all that at Christmastime." Adoptive father Barque Partube called the arrival "a very, very nice Christmas gift."
The flight to Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport Wednesday brought the first group of the more than 300 children who are expected to start a new life in France. Another flight is expected Friday.
The French government had been under pressure from adoptive families to speed up the complex proceedings.
International adoption is a sensitive subject in Haiti. After the earthquake, a group of U.S. missionaries tried to take 33 children out of the country without proper documents, claiming they were orphans. They all had at least one living parent.