Huffpost Impact

26 Orphans Escape Harm In Earthquake, All Get Adopted

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The 26 orphans of Haiti's Angel House were lucky to escape the Jan. 12 earthquake entirely unharmed. But thanks to some quick thinking by orphanage administrators, that's just where their luck began, Tonic reports.

At 3 a.m. on January 18th they would be ushered through the gates of the US Embassy; a few short hours later, they would be strapped into the plush seats of a private jet en route to Florida. By January 19th they would be living in comfortable homes in California, Arizona, Illinois and throughout the U.S. And they would not be orphans anymore. Not one of them.

By moving quickly to secure the best interests of just 26 children before the slowdown of bureaucratic protocol set in, the orphanage's parent organization, Three Angels Children's Relief, was able to evacuate the children before the U.S. Embassy was overwhelmed. Having impeccably kept paperwork made it much easier for the orphanage to secure permission to leave quickly.

The process happened so fast, says adoptive parent, Eric Schweig, that "we were totally physically unprepared. We weren't expecting to have Sebastian here for one and a half to three years and I had to clear out my office at the last minute for him." While he was traveling to and from Florida to pick up his infant son, friends rushed in to donate "everything you could think of" for Sebastian and to transform Schweig's office into a well-appointed, childproofed nursery. Now that Sebastian is home, says Schweig, "I've never seen anyone smile so much. He smiles all day long."

Because the group was so small, they were able to mobilize quickly and make use of space on two private aircraft that NASCAR team Hendricks Motorsports made available for relief efforts.

Many of the adoptive parents remain deeply involved with the orphanage and are traveling back and forth to Haiti to participate in relief efforts. Read more about the tight-knit community that supports the orphanage at Tonic.com.