Haiti: Inside the International Adoption Process

One Seattle woman fights to bring home two girls she legally adopted a year ago.
11:22 | 10/30/13

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Transcript for Haiti: Inside the International Adoption Process
Where the kids sleep in these little cubby holes. Play in the rubble. Everyone wants to be held. Nearly all of the kids you see here have families waiting for them in america. But they are still here stuck. We have come looking for two little girls, sisters who, have lived in limbo for three years. Adopted by an american woman but unable to leave haiti. We're hoping we can help change that in the next three days. Suddenly, they appear. Riksa is 9. She lived here since he was a toddler, five long years. I feel a deep anguished bond with her. I am an adopted child myself. Who grew up in the shadow of an orphana orphanage. I understand why she is slow to warm, watchful. The protector of her 5-year-old sister, erica. Ready! Who smiles and cuddles easily. And has been here since she was born. That is why when I got a tweet this summer from a woman, ruth kerr, I was so moved. Help my girls stuck in a flawed adoption process in haiti. For the past year she has been ricksa and erica's legal mother. Their adoption completed. Still they're growing up with nothing and no one to call their own. Why are they still in haiti if they were officially adopted over a year ago? Apathy. Honestly. I've don't know a better word to describe. It just wasn't important for u.S. Government offices, for haitian government offices, there's -- there's just a bureaucratic backlog. I imagine you would be the first to say it is important that this process be exquisitely careful. Everyone need to be vetted right. Absolutely. I was vetted. I have three separate two hour psychological appointments. Every financial part of me has been checked out. Every ounce of my being has been checked out. Every I dotted. Every t crossed. It wasn't? No it wasn't. There were pieces of paper missing. There was oh, we forgot this. That's what makes the process continue on and on and on and on and on. Reporter: She refuses to give up. On a steamy day, our team meets her at the bustling PORT-au-PRINCE AIRPORT. Good to meet you! Reporter: Ruth runs a successful consulting business from home in seattle. Years ago, the images of the earthquake seared her heart she jumped on a plan to help. She spent her days washing the feet of the weary fitting shoes for people who had none. A journey that would change three lives. I looked outside the bus window and locked eyes with ricksa, it locked. Electricity that came through my body. I jumped up out of my seat and exclaimed I found my little girl. Reporter: Ruth surprised herself by this. She wasn't looking to become a mother. After months she decided to return to haiti to see the girls. They laughed together and played. Reporter: And they learned to trust her. She began the adoption process. Taking seven trips to be with them over the next two years. The girls started to look forward to her week-long visits and overnight trips to her hotel. They told her they loved her. And she told them the same. But every time she left, they were left behind to wonder if their adoption could be believed. They have already had so much disappointment and abandonment in their life. Here I have just done it again. Reporter: Is there something we are missing? Some reason the girls are not being permitted to leave haiti? Will you sit on my lap? Is that okay? We sit down with pierre alexis, the orphanage director, how does he feel about americans adopting haitian kids? He tells us he has no reservations, certainly not in this case. Reporter: There are people who say the best thing for these kids are to stay in their country. The best thing for the kids is to stay in haiti. It would be real in the perfect world. In the perfect. Not in the current haiti we have. Because if the family, the birth parents bring their kids here it is because they cannot take care of them. Reporter: We asked someone to john us here who knows the problem only too well. Craig juntehan. Retired at 40, high tech millionaire. He and his wife kathy adopted three kids from haiti eight years ago. This is the universal language of an orphan. Pick me up. Hold me. Just for a minute. Make me feel like I matter. Make me feel like I'm special. Reporter: He was lucky. His kids adoptions went smoothly. And ever since, craig has been on a mission to make it easier for everyone else. He has even made a film about the tens of thousand of kids stuck in the system all over the world. So people believe the process is slow because it is careful? I don't think safe guard and tra transparency and efficiency are mutually exclusive. In many cases these dossiers sit on people any desks because they want to make their jobs seem important. Reporter: Craig's wife runs an orphanage in haiti and made some calls on the girls' behalf. We are hoping the combination of our cameras and craig and kathy's contacts might just get the kids to seattle this week. All that remains we think is for them to get u.S. Visas. So pierre, we think is at the u.S. Embassy getting the visa right now. He was supposed to be there at 2:00. Oh, good. Should be predict built t, the visa appointment at 2:00. You go home friday at 3:00. We don't get to that point. That creates a process that could take 2 1/2 years, 3 1/2 years, could take four years. Reporter: We arrive at the orphanage. Ruth has the not seen the girls for nine months but has been sending money to help support them for years. ♪ erica is delighted. But ricksa gives ruth a bit of a cold shoulder. Unable to believe this time might actually be "the" time they leave with her. Reporter: So I hear you say did you think I was ever coming back? What did she say? Reporter: How can they not think that? If ricksa will not bear to hope, ruth will hope for all of them. As we wait. What does pierre say, he thinks he is on his way back? No here, hasn't got in yet. Reporter: And wait. One day they're going to understand how much I love them. And how -- how much I fought for them. Reporter: This time, good news. The visas have come through. It's happening. It's mind-boggling. Reporter: Pierre goes through the giant pile of official paperwork with ruth. One critical form was never in question. Finalized years ago, the relinquishment document proving that the girls' biological parents voluntarily terminated their right. That's right like more than 90% of the world's orphans, these girls have parents unable to care for them. In the poorest country in the western hemisphere, they have nine children. Pierre has a final request. Asking ruth to meet with the girls' birth parents and get their blessing. I want you to meet the birth parents. Because they came yesterday. And they are coming tomorrow. Okay, good. Reporter: The next morning we head to the orphanage. The girls' biological parents are waiting when we arrive. The final step in what has been a wrenching process for everyone. Ruth has met the girls' parents before. But this moment they all know matters. So much at stake on the orphanage porch. The translator explains they would look ike to stay in touch with the girls. I would like you to give us your contact, your address, e-mail. Reporter: This request is a surprise. Ruth is philosophical. We are family forever. Reporter: The mother is philosophical, saying, with god is my witness, I give you two children. I love you for life. We are family for life. They say good-bye. An agonizing sacrifice parents in desperate circumstances have long made for their children. It's time now to go to a new home. Seattle. Greeted at the airport by a slew of new friend and family. Hi. Are you ricksa. Look at this! Oh, wow! Oh. It's -- it's our house. Welcome home. The groceries have been delivered. Yours. Ours. Go. Go on. Reporter: Ricksa can still barely believe it. This is your bed, silly girl. Reporter: For every ricksa and erica there are tens of thousand of kids growing up alone. Every child deserves a loving home. And a loving family. Reporter: Tonight, two more little girls have one.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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