Theology professor brings home newly adopted Haitian orphans with a little help from Xavier

Chris Pramuk and his wife, Lauri, had already begun the adoption process before the earthquake | January 26, 2010

Xavier assistant professor of theology Chris Pramuk and his wife, Lauri, a Cincinnati pediatrician, are adopting two Haitan children from an orphanage in Port-au-Prince. The couple returned to Cincinnati on  Jan. 27 with 6-year-old Sophia Luc and 1-year-old Henry David Valdeus from Denver, where the children were taken after leaving Haiti for Miami on Jan. 23.

The Pramuks were already in the process of adopting the children when a major earthquake hit the poor Caribbean nation on Jan. 12 and destroyed the orphanage where they lived. The homecoming in Cincinnati ended two weeks of worry and frantic efforts to rescue the children in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, where more than 100,000 are dead or missing.

Xavier staff and alumni have contributed to the effort to help the Pramuks. Rabbi Abie Ingber, director of the Office of Community Engagement, used his contacts to help speed up the process of getting the children out of Haiti quickly after the earthquake. Adoptions normally can take several years. Other Xavier alumni and staff also helped by making contacts and donating money toward the cost of their homecoming.

The Pramuks have been trying for more than a year to adopt the children. The couple expected to wait at least another year before winning final approval from the United States and Haitian governments. After the quake, however, the Pramuks and more than 100 other American families with Haitian adoptions in the pipeline asked the U.S. government to help get the children out of Haiti as soon as possible. The U.S. government granted those children humanitarian parole last week. Their adoptions will be finalized in the United States.

Sophia and Henry David were among 32 children in the same orphanage in Port-au-Prince who were transported out of Haiti on Saturday to Florida and then to Denver. The Pramuks and their two biological children, Isaiah and Grace, greeted the newest members of their family in Denver, which is home to an agency facilitating the adoptions.