Iowa Couple Travels to Haiti to Bring Home Adopted Daughter

"Nightline" found 4-year-old Ester outside her orphanage -- alive and well.

ByABC News
January 19, 2010, 1:47 PM

Jan. 19, 2010— -- In a quake-ravaged country that seems plunged into darkness, it was a rare, bright moment when an Iowa couple reunited with their 4-year-old adopted Haitian daughter Maya Ester in Port-au-Prince Monday.

"I just was so relieved and just so happy and so very emotional to be able to touch her and to hold her," mother Mandy Poulter said. "We haven't really put her down since."

On Wednesday night -- 24 hours after the quake hit Port-au-Prince -- "Nightline" spoke with Matt and Mandy Poulter of Pella, Iowa. They had lost contact with the orphanage where the child they had adopted, Maya Ester, was living while they awaited a visa for her. The couple had spent three years travelling back and forth to Haiti, and were just weeks away from bringing Maya Ester home when the earthquake struck. Like so many others waiting to hear news about loved ones, the couple prayed for their daughter's safety, but were left to imagine the worst.

After three excruciating days of being unable to reach the orphanage via phone or the Internet, they gave "Nightline" directions to the Central Texas Orphan Mission Alliance near Port-au-Prince.

Robin Roberts and her crew drove through the broken streets until they found the orphanage. It was damaged, but Maya Ester and the eight other children were alright -- frightened, but safe.

Mandy Poulter was exuberant when Roberts spoke to her Thursday through Skype with the news.

"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."

Through her tears, Mandy Poulter gave Roberts a message 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."

Mandy contacted two other families from Pella, who, like them, had been due to adopt children from the same orphanage. They gathered in the Poulter's living room that night to look at photo that Roberts and her team had emailed them from the orphanage.