Haitian orphan to be adopted in Knoxville found safe

Haitian orphan to be adopted in Knoxville found safe

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Allyson Coleman and Odette Allyson Coleman and Odette

 By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- A Haitian orphan set to be adopted by a Knoxville family was missing in the aftermath of this week's earthquake.

Officials were able to make contact with Odette, 10, on Thursday and learned she's okay.

"We weren't thinking about adopting. We just felt, over time, that God was telling us she was supposed to be part of our family," says Allyson Coleman, who first met Odette two years ago at an orphanage in Haiti.

Odette's parents, who had nine other children to support, had given her up.

"We asked a friend in Haiti how the family chooses which child. He said they usually pick the one they love the most because they know they'll get to eat three times a day and get an education," Allyson says.

When Allyson's husband, Andy, traveled to Haiti to meet Odette, he also wanted to talk to her father.

"We sit down and I get to ask the question. We believe we're supposed to adopt your daughter. Is that okay? He said, yes. He had a lot of questions. Some of the questions were, are you going to love her like you love your daughters? I said yes. He asked, 'Is she going to receive the same education that your daughters receive?' I said yes."

The Colemans already have three girls at home: seven-year-old twins Molly and Abby and Taylor, 10, who's just 11 days younger than Odette.

"Odette will be like my twin," Taylor says.

The two girls met at the orphanage in November and plan to share everything once the adoption is finalized.

"This room looks like a palace to her because her whole house used to be smaller than this," Taylor explains about her bedroom.

The family was relieved to hear Odette had survived the earthquake. "I felt like I could finally breathe for the first time in 36 hours," Allyson says.

But now, there are other worries.

"For all we know, our paperwork is inside a building that's collapsed, which means we could potentially have to start over. We don't know," Andy says.

While the Colemans don't know when they'll get to bring Odette home, Andy plans to visit her again as soon as possible.

"To see her with my own eyes and touch her and just be able to help. I feel so helpless here," he says.

Odette's orphanage was destroyed by the earthquake. She and the other girls are now sleeping in a truck.

The Colemans and their church are trying to raise money to rebuild. If you'd like to help, you can visit North Knoxville's White Stone Church by clicking clicking here

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