Violence in Haiti stalls Plano family's attempt to adopt daughter

The ongoing violence in Haiti may seem like a world away to most North Texans, but for the Smith family, it hits very close to home.

"She was abandoned at birth at this orphanage, so she's been there the whole time," said Kathleen Smith.

Kathleen and her husband Jordan have three biological children.

They wanted to add to their family and were in the process of adopting 6-year-old Esther from Haiti when gangs began to take over Port-au-Prince on February 29.

"That's hard. Having zero control over her safety is really hard right now," said Jordan.

Esther is in an orphanage in the mountains.

Updates have been hard to come by.

"We've had FaceTime calls seeing her interact with the workers there," said Kathleen.

Sadly, the Smiths' situation isn't unique.

"There are about 25 families that are similarly situated," said Nicole Skellenger, an attorney with Fox Rothschild.

The law firm represents more than two dozen families nationwide that are trying to adopt children from Haiti.

All of them are living in legal limbo.

"Now that this unrest has begun, there has been so many difficulties and barriers and continuing on with the adoption process," Skellenger explained. "Courts have been closed. IBSA, which is the adoption authority in Haiti, their offices have been ransacked, files have been lost."

The firm is asking the U.S. government to grant orphans, like Esther, what's called humanitarian parole.

"We can legally finish the adoption here and that's what we need, so we have her and know she's safe," said Jordan.

The families are getting some help from elected officials.

This week, several members of Congress signed a letter addressed to the U.S. Secretary of State and Homeland Security Secretary asking that humanitarian parole be granted for approximately 70 kids.

"The hope is they'll see it and say yes, immediately bring them home," said Kathleen.

For now, all the Smith family can do is wait. They're trying to keep busy.

"We've already got the set up, a bed ready for her," said Jordan.

It's clear there's a whole lot of love waiting for Esther if and when she arrives.

Her sibling drew pictures showing a family untied, with Esther by their side.

"We need her home," said Kathleen.