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Boy leaves Haiti — on 2nd try, comes to Utah

Lt. Col Randon Draper prepares Fabrice for his trip  to his new home in Eagle Mountain on Tuesday.
Lt. Col Randon Draper prepares Fabrice for his trip to his new home in Eagle Mountain on Tuesday.
Provided by Lt. Col Randon Draper

SALT LAKE CITY — Orphan after orphan after orphan skipped into a plane last week that would take them from Haiti to join their adoptive families in America, grinning. Eight-year-old Fabrice stood by, sobbing.

"I sorry! I sorry!" he wailed, clinging to the arm of Chareyl Moyes, Haiti program manager for Ogden-based Wasatch International Adoptions. The little boy didn't understand: Why was he left behind?

Now, though, Fabrice, too, is smiling.

It took a few extra days and some serious paperwork pushing, but the little boy, whose travel documents were rejected just moments before a chartered jet flew a load of 50 orphans to the United States Jan. 29, was expected to arrive home to Utah late Wednesday night with his newly adoptive parents.

"My family is finally complete," said his father, David Aitken, an Eagle Mountain businessman.

Aitken had been on "pins and needles" since he learned last week Fabrice's paperwork had been misplaced and he wouldn't be allowed to join his adoptive siblings, Yonelson, 4, and Nerlande, 5, on the flight to America. A few hours before, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti had notified Aitken that Fabrice's humanitarian parole had been approved.

"We don't know if his packet got stuck behind a desk or dropped in a hallway somewhere," said Moyes, who helped to coordinate the orphans' return to the states. "But when it was time to board the plane, it just wasn't there."

Moyes had to leave Fabrice, crumpled and crying on the airport floor. She had to shepherd the rest of the children to Miami.

"It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," she said.

Lt. Col. Randon Draper, a Utah native, promised he'd get the little boy home, Moyes said. Tuesday, just before take-off, he sent Moyes a photo of him and Fabrice packed and ready to head to America.

"I just bawled and bawled," Moyes said. "I was so happy."

Aitken and his wife were similarly touched.

"Elated," he said. "We're elated."

Yonelson and Nerlande met their parents in Miami Friday. The Aitkens waited in Miami until Fabrice flew in on a C-130 military plane Tuesday.

They family started the adoption process about a year ago.

"I wasn't going home without him," Aitken said.

e-mail: estuart@desnews.com