Couple Redoubles Efforts To Adopt Haitian Boy Erin Lancer was in Haiti when the earthquake struck, with Geoffrey, the boy she and her husband are trying to adopt. Host Scott Simon talks to Michael and Erin Lancer about their efforts and the boy Erin had to leave behind.
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Couple Redoubles Efforts To Adopt Haitian Boy

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Couple Redoubles Efforts To Adopt Haitian Boy

Couple Redoubles Efforts To Adopt Haitian Boy

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Erin Lancer was one of those Americans caught in Haiti this week during the earthquakes. She was there to visit a three-year-old boy that she and her husband Michael are working to adopt. She didn't want to leave the country without Jeffrey, her newly adopted son. The boy doesn't have a U.S. passport yet.

There are reportedly 254 U.S. families who are in line to adopt Haitian children, and like many of them, the Lancers are appealing to their congressmen for help. Michael and Erin Lancer join us now from their home in West Seneca, New York, where Erin has just returned from Haiti. And thanks for being with us and welcome home, Erin.

Ms. ERIN LANCER: Thank you very much. I'm very, very glad to be home.

SIMON: What can you tell us about Jeffrey?

Ms. LANCER: We've been to visit him five times. I've been five times in this past 12 months, and he is a wonderful little boy, smart, funny. We can't wait for him to come home and join our family permanently.

SIMON: And he's okay through the earthquake now?

Ms. LANCER: Yes, he is okay. He's scared. He was very clingy the next two days. So, it was difficult.

SIMON: How's the orphanage doing?

Ms. LANCER: Well, I was not at the orphanage at the time. I've heard the orphanage is fine. They had some damage to walls and things, but nobody was injured. All the children are safe. I haven't heard specifically about his nanny. I'm waiting to hear.

SIMON: But the orphanage seems to have enough food for the moment, for example?

Ms. LANCER: Yes.

SIMON: Michael Lancer, I know you've been on the phone and email constantly to try and get this resolved. What are you hearing from people in Congress and the State Department?

Mr. MICHAEL LANCER: Actually, I'm pleasantly surprised, Scott, because when I started this process, what I heard from elected officials was you don't have a passport; you can't do that. (Unintelligible) proceeded, with the help of the media, actually, it went to, well, maybe you can do that. At this point, I'm working with Senator Schumer of New York, with two of our local representatives. Everybody's putting their heads together going, okay, now, how are we going to do this? What's the best way to make this happen? And it's very encouraging.

SIMON: What would be the best way for it to happen?

Mr. LANCER: The best thing to happen at this point would be the United States to reach an agreement with Haiti, saying there are these adoptive children in the process. Haiti, you have your hands full, we have parents here who are qualified and ready to take these children. So, at this point we are going to issue the proper documents to allow them to travel to the United States and then we can clean up the immigration issues later on.

SIMON: Erin Lancer, you were there during the earthquake. What was it like and how did you get out?

Ms. LANCER: I was staying in Port-au-Prince with some friends. We were playing outside, and all of the sudden there was a huge rumbling. Some of the people that I was with said they thought it was a bomb. I immediately sat down. I could not walk. The wall between the two houses - the house that we were staying at and the neighbor's house - was just swaying like a snake. It was terrifying. And I sat down and I dont know how, but my son came running up, screaming mama, mama. And I picked him up and we sat until it was over.

Our friends down the block came and got us. And their house did not sustain damage, and we were able to go over there and spend the rest of the days until we were able to evacuate.

SIMON: Erin, I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for you to leave Jeffrey.

Ms. LANCER: Yes. It's always difficult to leave him every time we've gone. This was just so much worse. I knew that Michael was working on trying to get him home, but I just didn't believe it. And Michael didn't really give us options; he said you need to come home. And, you know, I have children here at home, and I had to do it. It was not easy, but I know he's with our friends still getting...

SIMON: With your friends in that house in Port-au-Prince?

Ms. LANCER: Yes. So, he'll be safe until we can get him, and I hope it will be soon.

SIMON: Michael and Erin Lancer, thanks so much.

Ms. LANCER: Thank you very much, Scott. And we continue to pray for the people of Haiti. That's where the need is. We are so very aware of that.

Mr. LANCER: I agree with what Erin said. Really, we have been very blessed throughout this process but we don't want our story to overshadow that of the people who are in Haiti and suffering.

SIMON: Michael and Erin Lancer in West Seneca, New York, thanks so much.

Mr. and Mrs. LANCER: Thank you, Scott.

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