'Absolutely Amazing': Iowa Couple Learns Adopted Haitian Daughter Survived Quake

Absolutely Amazing: Iowa Couple Learns Adopted Haitian Daughter Survived QuakeABC News
ABC News' Robin Roberts Finds 4-Year-Old in Orphanage Outside Port-au-Prince

An Iowa couple anxiously awaiting news about its adopted Haitian daughter after this week's earthquake was overwhelmed to learn that ABC News, and Robin Roberts and her crew had located the child at her orphanage outside Port-au-Prince.

Matt and Amanda Poulter of Pella, Iowa, believed they were less than a month away from bringing home their 4-year-old adopted daughter, Maya Ester Poulter, from a Haitian orphanage. They were just waiting for her passport when the earthquake struck.

On "Good Morning America" today, Amanda Poulter said that "we're doing great. It was absolutely amazing. We, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for finding her."

The Haiti MiraclePlay

As soon as the Poulters saw her picture, they knew it was their daughter.

"That's our little girl," Matt Poulter said.

"Maya is now legally our daughter," Poulter told "Nightline" Thursday. "If we were in Haiti, we'd be able to bring her home. But we're in the final stages now where we need to get the authorization to get a passport and then we can bring her home."

"Nightline" profiled the Poulters on Wednesday and Thursday's broadcasts.

When the Poulters decided to expand their family, they decided to adopt a child from Haiti. They "immediately bonded" with Maya Ester, Matt Poulter said today.


The Poulters have watched the little girl grow up since she was 19 months old, and for three years they have shuttled back and forth to Haiti to visit her at the Central Texas Orphan Mission Alliance in Port-au-Prince, the country's stricken capital.

Maya Ester knows the Poulters as her "hoped for family."

Like so many others waiting to hear news about the relatives and loved ones, the Poulters waited and prayed for Maya Ester's safety -- and the safety of nine other children from the orphanage.

Upon hearing news of the earthquake, the Poulters' excitement immediately turned to grave concern for their daughter and the others at the orphanage.

"Immediately, we were thinking, 'Is she safe?'" said Matt Poulter. "'Where was she when this happened? Who was she with? Did she have somebody that could be there for her?'"

But for three excruciating days, they had been unable to reach the orphanage via phone or the Internet. They were desperate for information on Maya Ester.

Family's Message for Daughter in Haiti: 'Just Tell Her We Love Her'

The Poulters were left to imagine the worst. The only facts they had were the grim images they were seeing of so many trapped under the rubble. They feared their daughter was among the victims.

On Thursday, armed with directions from the Poulters, ABC News' Robin Roberts traveled to Maya Ester's orphanage in Port-au-Prince in search of the girl. In Haiti, the Poulters said, Maya Ester was known simply as "Ester."

Getting around was not easy. Roberts and her crew carefully navigated streets that were lined with homes that had been damaged but had not fallen down during the quake. They soon discovered that the orphanage still stood. It sustained only minor damage in the quake.

Outside, there was Maya Ester Poulter, frightened but safe.

Soon after identifying the child as Maya Ester, Roberts reached out to Amanda Poulter through Skype at her home in Iowa.

"We definitely found her," said Roberts. "I am looking at her right now. She's OK. She's not injured. She's ready to go home to Iowa."

Amanda Poulter was exuberant.

"You found Ester -- and it's her, at the orphanage?!" she asked.

It was an emotional moment for a mother in search of a daughter, and through her tears, Amanda Poulter gave a message for Roberts to convey to Maya Ester.

"Can you tell her that mommy and daddy love her and we will come as soon as we can to bring her home," she said. "Just tell her we love her, and give her a hug and tell her mommy and daddy will be there."

Roberts whispered the message into the sleeping child's ear: "Ester your mom and dad love you, and they are going to be coming to get you as soon as they can."

Other Families Enjoy Good News From Haiti

Soon after, Amanda Poulter called her husband, Matt, to deliver the good news. But the Poulters weren't the only people in their small Iowa town anticipating news from the orphanage in Haiti. Two other families in Pella were also waiting to adopt four other children.

The news that Maya Ester and the other children at the orphanage were safe spread quickly.

Like the Poulters, Tracy and Less Fuller, and Dave and Andrea Van Der Hoff had waited two days to get any news of the four other children due to come to this small Iowa town from the same orphanage.

Port-au-Prince was home to a considerable orphan population before the earthquake hit Tuesday, turning Haiti's capital into a wasteland.

While some children had been placed in orphanages because their parents had died, many others are brought to orphanages by their families because disease or poverty left them unable to care for their children.

"There are four other children ... and their parents were just so excited, as we were, overwhelmed that you had found them," Amanda Poulter said on "GMA." "They will get to continue their friendship."

In 2007, UNICEF estimated there were 380,000 orphans in Haiti, which has a population of just over 9 million, according to the CIA World Factbook.

But as night fell on the devastated country for the third time since the earthquake, the Poulters were able to go sleep tonight knowing their daughter was safe.

"I am still in shock," said Amanda Poulter. "I don't even know what to think. It is just such a huge relief to know that she is OK and that she is safe. I am imagining her sleeping in her crib there."

ABC News' Sarah Netter contributed to this report.