BELLINGHAM, Wash. - A Bellingham father has traveled across the country and is staying the night at an orphanage in earthquake-ravaged Haiti in order to bring his two adoptive kids back to the United States.
Brett and Kendra Schlenbaker spent the past three years working on adopting a brother and sister, Dejennika and Dejouvensky, from the New Life Children's Home in Port-Au-Prince Haiti. The couple wanted to expand their family, which includes 12-year-old Austin and 8-year-old Karson.
The Schlenbakers say they were just weeks away from bring the kids back to Washington state. They were just waiting for the final signatures from officials in Haiti when 7.0 quake hit last week. The couple spent days scouring the Internet before discovering the kids and the orphanage survived.
Over the weekend, Brett Schlenbaker flew to Florida and then into Haiti. Monday, he arrived in the capitol city. He drove to the orphanage which is located on the edge of the airport. He turned down an offer to spend the night at the U.S. embassy and instead is sleeping at the orphanage with his two new kids.
Tuesday morning, Brett will walk with the kids to the U.S. embassy. This normally is a 15-minute drive, but with the streets damaged, the journey could take hours. Kendra is worried for his safety. The streets around the airport are not always safe. Officials at the orphanage report armed gangs are roving the damaged streets.
Once at the embassy, Brett plans to get passports and visas for Dejennika and Dejouvensky and fly out to Florida.
The Schlenbakers are not doing this alone. They say Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash., is helping them finalize the adoption process and is aiding them in getting their new siblings back to the United States.
Kendra says she is on “pins and needles” waiting for a phone call from her husband. Brett brought a satellite phone with him, but can only talk during certain hours of the day, and only for a short period of time.
This concerned mother plans to fly to Florida to greet her new son and daughter. She just hopes this reunion come sooner than later.