HAITIThe devastation caused by Haiti’s earthquake has extended to some of its youngest and most powerless victims: orphans awaiting clearance to join adoptive families in the United States.

The U.S. government has already said it will allow orphaned children from Haiti to come to the United States temporarily for needed medical treatment, and on Wednesday expanded its effort.

Now three departments — State, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services — say they’ll join together to deal with what is a complicated question, according to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

“It is something that needs to be handled very carefully, because there are many issues involved in terms of making sure that … children that come to us are indeed orphans, until all the search and rescue is done, or other families are located,” Napolitano told a Senate hearing.

She was responding to a direct plea for help from Senator Jon Tester of Montana. Tester said five of his constituents “have completed all the paperwork to get the children from Haiti … and yet, they’re being held up.”