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Haiti adoptions stalled, Argentine parents say

By Brian Byrnes, CNN
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Red tape tangles adoption plan
  • Parents in Argentina say government not helping get their adopted kids out of Haiti
  • Some parents now heading to Haiti hoping to cut through red tape
  • One parent told CNN: I am angry, sad and desperate
  • Some countries fast tracked adoption processes after the earthquake

Buenos Aires, Argentina (CNN) -- Francisco and Astrid Ramos returned to Argentina from Haiti the morning of January 12, just hours before the devastating earthquake hit.

Now, they are on their way back with one objective in mind: to reunite with and rescue their nine-month-old adopted Haitian son, Stephen.

"Stephen is our child. There's no other way for me to describe him. We are desperately looking for a way to get him home to Argentina," says Astrid.

When the earthquake struck, Stephen's documents were buried in the rubble, creating a logistical nightmare for the Ramos' and scores of other parents from around the world who had already begun the adoption process before the catastrophe occurred.

For now, Stephen is healthy and being cared for, but his adoptive parents are worried that worsening conditions in Port-au-Prince could lessen the infant's chance of survival.

"We need to get him out immediately," says Astrid.

The Ramos' are one of 14 Argentine families waiting to get their adopted Haitian children out of Haiti. Impact Your World: How to help Haiti

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Several countries, like the U.S. and France, have fast tracked the adoption process, but the Argentine families interviewed by CNN say their government has ignored their repeated requests for assistance.

Now, they are taking matters into their own hands. Francisco and Astrid are heading for the Dominican Republic on Friday, hoping to cross into Haiti and secure the proper paperwork needed to leave with their son.

"There is no other possible solution. The lack of response from the Argentine government shows that they are not interested in resolving the problem like other countries have done. So we need to go and see for ourselves how our son is," says Francisco.

Pedro Cavanna will be joining the Ramos. He and his wife, Mariela, finalized the adoption of a 2-year-old Haitian boy named MacKender in November.

They traveled to Haiti three times last year to visit the boy. He was scheduled to arrive in Argentina on January 19. Now, they too, fear for their child's safety.

"I am angry, sad and desperate. MacKender is Haitian, and someday he will be Argentine, and I will have to tell him that his government didn't do anything for his life," says Mariela.

Thousands of Haitian children were orphaned after the quake. Many international agencies have stopped accepting new adoption applications until some semblance of order is restored in the country.

In the case of the Argentine families, they had all started the adoption process before January 12, and say they cannot understand why their government has not taken the initiative to get the children into a proper home before it is too late.

"In MacKender's orphanage there were 118 children before the earthquake. Since then, 116 of them have left the country. The only two remaining are the ones adopted by Argentine families," says Mariela.

The Argentine Foreign Ministry declined CNN´s request for an interview. In a statement released Tuesday, it said Argentina is complying with a 1989 United Nations agreement regarding procedures for international child adoption, but did not offer any further response to the parent's request for assistance.

So for now, the 14 families will have to fight on their own to secure their children's release.

"MacKender will be with us -- with my husband and my kids -- and we will be a family. And someday we will forget everything, and we will start our new life with him," says Mariela.