Beth Klein Boulder attorney unites Haitian orphans with U.S. parents
Klein: ‘It’s wonderful to see children coming home’
By Vanessa Miller Camera Staff Writer
Hundreds of Haitian orphans who were in the process of being adopted by Americans have been evacuated out of the earthquake-devastated nation and united with their new families, thanks, in large part, to a Boulder attorney.
Since the 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the island nation on Jan. 12 — killing upwards of 150,000 people — attorney Beth Klein has been working with U.S. Department of State, the Pentagon and orphanages to coordinate flights and bring 200 children to the United States.
Her work to expedite Haitian adoptions for Americans who have been verified by reputable agencies started with a call three days after the quake from a man with a child in a Port-au-Prince orphanage. Klein said she believed there had to be a way to get food and security to the orphanages and to bring the children out of the devastation.
“I was talking to everyone I know,” said Klein, a trial lawyer who also has worked to free Cambodian girls who’ve been sold into slavery.
Within a day of her appeals, Klein said, people had donated 737 planes for trips to Haiti and tens of thousands of dollars. Others had volunteered to be doctors and escorts for the adopted children. Even JetBlue Airways donated flights out of the Dominican Republic, Klein said.
With help from U.S. Sen. Mark Udall’s office, Klein helped coordinate waiting adoptive parents and GPS locations of orphanages to make sure children could get to this country as safely and smoothly as possible,
On Jan. 18 — after days of nonstop work and countless e-mails and phone calls — Klein received word from the U.S. Department of State that the nation had changed its policy to allow orphaned children in Haiti to enter the United States on an individual basis. That opened the door for Klein’s efforts to unite children with adoptive parents, and she focused her energy on getting “landing slots” for chartered flights into Haiti.
So far, Klein has been instrumental in sending three flights to Haiti and bringing 200 orphaned children to adoptive parents in the United States. Most of the families live in Colorado, she said. Klein also has coordinated the delivery of food and medical help to Haiti orphanages.
Klein remains in contact with federal officials, adoption agencies and Haitian orphanages, receiving updates on how the children are doing and “thank you” e-mails from the people she worked with to rescue some of the thousands of orphans stuck in dire conditions.
One of the “thank you” e-mails she received came from the Pentagon.
“I really admire the work that you and your colleagues have done to get these orphans out of Haiti,” wrote one Army Special Forces officer who works in the Pentagon. “It’s one thing to send $10 to a charity — it’s quite another to get involved in such a hands on, personal manner.”
Klein said she’s been just as surprised by how much she’s been able to accomplish as “just a normal citizen.”
“If people just step up, they can do extraordinary things for other human beings,” she said.
Watching adoptive parents embrace their Haitian children has been worth all the sleepless nights and bureaucratic hoops, she said.
“It’s wonderful to see children coming home,” Klein said. “And it feels good to know that you played a role in that.