Klobuchar seeks help for Americans poised to adopt children from Haiti

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Date: 2010-01-18

The senator seeks federal agencies' help for Americans waiting to bring Haitian children home.

By BOB VON STERNBERG

Alarmed about the fate of hundreds of Haitian children being adopted by Americans, Sen. Amy Klobuchar is pressing federal agencies to speed up the process.

Klobuchar has written to the departments of State and Homeland Security asking that officials "expedite the adoption process so that loving American families can finally welcome their children home."

A longtime advocate of streamlining international adoption, Klobuchar, D-Minn., is asking that the departments grant "humanitarian parole" for as many as 900 Haitian children matched with American parents whose paperwork has not been completed.

A parole would allow the children to temporarily enter the United States before the remaining paperwork for full legal entry is finished.

Although such paroles are "typically used sparingly in cases of compelling emergency, I believe the magnitude of this disaster clearly warrants broader application of this policy," Klobuchar wrote.

A parole would be an enormous relief to Kim and Patrick Bentrott, missionaries in Port-au-Prince in the process of adopting a baby named Solomon.

"They're OK and have the ability to leave the country, but they're not going to leave their son behind," said Chris Bentrott, a Spring Lake Park resident who has contacted Klobuchar's office about his brother and sister-in-law's dilemma. "They've been going back and forth to the embassy, but they know the staff there has more important things to deal with right now," he said.

The State Department's bureau of intercountry adoption reported Friday that it is reviewing the possibility of granting humanitarian paroles to children, but said no final decisions have been made.

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