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First Haitian Adoptees Arrive in Paris

A French adoptive parent carries an orphan from Haiti at Roissy airport, outside of Paris, 22 Dec 2010
A French adoptive parent carries an orphan from Haiti at Roissy airport, outside of Paris, 22 Dec 2010

Some French families got an early Christmas present when the first group of more than 300 adopted Haitian children landed in Paris. Their arrival ends months of waiting, but not the controversy over their adoption.

The 113 Haitian children got a red-carpet reception at the Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris, where French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie was on hand to greet them. Doctors and psychiatrists were also there.

The children were accompanied by their new French parents, many of whom have been waiting months for their requests to be approved in Haiti.

One French mother, Pascal, kissed her Haitian child as she told French radio she had waited two years to adopt him.

Haiti's January earthquake slowed the adoption requests, since many of the necessary documents had been buried in the rubble. Haitian authorities were also concerned about possible trafficking, particularly after U.S. missionaries tried to take 33 Haitian children out of the country earlier this year, claiming they were orphans, when in fact many had families.

In this case, too, some of the children also have parents in Haiti. That is one reason why former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner moved slowly in settling the adoption cases, warning of the risk of child trafficking.

But Ms. Alliot-Marie has since sped up the process, earning praise from child adoption group SOS Haiti Enfants Adoptes.

The group's president Emmanuelle Guerry told French media the change in foreign ministers had made the adoptions possible.

But other experts have criticized the stepped-up adoptions, saying they were against the interests of the children and their adoptive parents.

Another group of Haitian children is due to arrive in Paris later this week.