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Quebec woman adopts six Haitian children, bringing total to 14 Add to ...

Marie-Géralda Lafleur has already done her share to help Haitian children: Over the past decade, she has adopted eight of them.

And Tuesday, she did what most Canadian parents would consider unimaginable: She welcomed six more.

A flight that landed in Montreal from the quake-torn nation carried 19 children for adoption in Quebec, a half dozen of them destined for Ms. Lafleur alone.

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The six who arrived on the Air Transat flight are brothers and sisters aged 21 months to 9 years old, bringing Ms. Lafleur's expansive brood to 14. Two of the new arrivals are 4-year-old twin girls.

By last night, the older siblings were giving baths and playing with the younger ones at Ms. Lafleur's five-bedroom home in Laval, north of Montreal.

Ms. Lafleur, a 41-year-old single mother, said she arranged the latest adoptions through an intermediary in Haiti; the parents are still alive and live in Les Cayes, but the mother is ill and can't care for them. The mother has six other children, who remain in Haiti.

"This will lighten her load," a remarkably relaxed Ms. Lafleur said at a hotel near Trudeau International Airport, where doctors, social workers and Red Cross employees were on hand to greet the latest group of evacuees and Haitian children. "If I can help someone in need, all the better."

Some people have called Ms. Lafleur Mother Theresa. She began adopting Haitian children in 1999, and hasn't stopped.

"I believe in helping people in need," she said. "I would have liked to help all the children of Haiti, but it's limited for now."

Ms. Lafleur has taken a leave of absence from her job as a Quebec civil servant and said she will rely on her own siblings and her church for help - as well as her older children, aged 10 to 20.

Ms. Lafleur emigrated from Haiti to Montreal 33 years ago.

The latest airlift brings to 126 the number of adoptees brought from Haiti to Quebec since the Jan. 12 earthquake. Like the other parents, Ms. Lafleur's adoption process had begun beforehand.

Quebec allows a limited number of international adoptions that are not done through recognized agencies.

They typically involve adoptions by children's relatives, but they may also be undertaken by non-relatives in exceptional situations, such as when children's health or well-being is at risk.

The adoptive parents must pass a rigorous evaluation by social workers and psychologists, a Quebec adoption official said.

So far, all Canadian parents who received clearance from their provincial authorities for adoptions have been united with their Haitian children. Canada is moving forward only with cases where children and parents were matched before the earthquake.

With Tuesday's flight, about 200 children will have arrived in Canada since the Haitian government gave permission for children to travel to Canada for adoption; they were at various points in the adoption process when the earthquake struck Port-au-Prince.

While the lion's share of children have been adopted in Quebec, others have gone to families across the country.

 

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