Mike and Sandy Hurtubise carried their newly adopted 5-year-old Haitian twins Angela and Angelo through the front door of their Rochester home Sunday night, bringing the children into a starkly different world than the orphanage they have called home for nearly three years.

Mike and Sandy Hurtubise carried their newly adopted 5-year-old Haitian twins Angela and Angelo through the front door of their Rochester home Sunday night, bringing the children into a starkly different world than the orphanage they have called home for nearly three years.

The homecoming ended a two-year adoption process. The couple was nearing the end of that process when a devastating Jan. 12 earthquake leveled the House of God’s Children orphanage, where the children were staying.

The orphanage in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince was home to 135 children. The orphans were issued humanitarian visas, but it has taken time to get evacuation approval from the U.S. State Department.

“It’s been grueling,” Mike said of the process. “We got the call at 11:30 p.m. Friday that children were on a plane to Florida. Then at 2:30 a.m., we got the call that our kids would be on it.”

Mike and Sandy wasted no time, driving to St. Louis, where they boarded a plane to Orlando, Fla. Since the moment the family united, the twins have clung – often literally – to their adoptive parents.

“They cling to us and they want to hug us a lot,” Mike said.

Sandy offered similar sentiments.

“For the next few days we’re going to just love them, spend time with them,” Sandy said. “We’re getting used to them because they don’t speak English.”

Angela and Angelo speak Haitian Kreyol. Language has been a barrier as the couple struggles to communicate through phrases learned from a book.

“I feel like we’re missing out on their first impressions because they’re talking, and we can’t understand what they’re saying,” Sandy said.

Sandy and Mike said they decided to adopt orphans from Haiti in 2007 after Sandy spent four days at an orphanage there as part of a mission trip. They met the twins in early 2008 and made three more trips to Haiti to get to know them better.

But on Sunday night it was the little things that brought joy to Mike and Sandy’s faces.

The twins were captivated by a bundle of helium balloons set on a kitchen counter to commemorate the event. Both children followed with fascination as they let go of the ribbons, watching the balloons float to the ceiling.

The Hurtubises also gave the twins backpacks, which Angela and Angelo have filled during the past few days.

“In the orphanage, if you’re not the biggest kid, whatever you have is gone,” Sandy said.

The couple plans to get the twins medical exams during the next few days, although the American Red Cross has already performed preliminary examinations.

Angela and Angelo were born in 2004 in Cite Soleil, a slum near the capital. They were just two years old when their mother brought them and an older brother, Isaiah, to the orphanage. Isaiah later died.

Angela was severely malnourished and Angelo had a severe head injury, but both recovered and thrived, according to Haitian officials.

Rhys Saunders can be reached at (217) 788-1521 or rhys.saunders@sj-r.com.