Haiti has long been known as one of the more difficult countries from which to adopt. I confess, though, that I find myself a bit perturbed at comments like, “I don’t know how you could ever stand to adopt from Haiti. It’s so LONG (or hard, or rocky or unstable other unpleasant adjective),” because the thing is, I believe you go where your kids are. We may not enjoy every moment of a difficult adoption journey, but those of us with kids in Haiti must simply grin and bear it. And darn it – some of us need to be adopting from Haiti!
“Grinning and bearing” an adoption from Haiti has taken on a whole new dimension, of late. Over the past few months, Haitian adoption has seen a plethora of changes, beginning with a new director of IBESR (Haitian adoption authority) who initially stated her intention to invoke decades-old laws that would have eliminated the majority of eligible adoptive families. (Though not formally stated, she appears to have abandoned this idea.)
In addition, several new steps have been added to the tail end of the process. It used to be that the IBESR was the longest leg of the journey, with families spending anywhere from 4-10 months there (which they still do). And it used to be that once a file came out of courts, there were just a few short weeks remaining until a child could be united with his adopting family. Now, the post-legalization process is taking months, sometimes as many as seven or eight, and that often exceeds the amount of time the file spends in IBESR.
The current Minister of the Interior appears to have been adding steps willy-nilly over the past few months, each of which adds unnecessary additional time to the process. One time-consuming change is a new rule preventing the adopted child’s travel to the U.S. with their given names. Passports now must be issued after in-country adoption finalization, with the new, adoptive family name listed.
And frustratingly, many of the steps include requests for information the adoptive families have already supplied, such as personal information found in the homestudy and copies of passports already included in the dossier. On top of that, by the time the adoption files reach the passport process, the child has already been adopted. Families at home must wait on pins and needles for their legally adopted to be finally released to go home. It’s cruel and unusual punishment for families to have to supply additional information and wait for months on end when the courts have already approved the adoption. It’s simply senseless.
Most frightening about all of this are the allegations that this particular government official is intentionally making things more difficult for adoptive families and that the potential exists for misuse of the information that is suddenly being demanded. Since families are now being asked for detailed financial information, the possibility of identity theft is a concern. President Preval himself has reportedly visited with the Minister of the Interior’s office on two occasions, but no changes in the process have yet been seen.
Directors of several orphanages in Haiti have attempted to meet with the Minister, with little success, and are now turning to the adoptive families to begin to do what they can to get things moving in the right direction. Families are contacting embassies, government representatives, and officials in Haiti, and have begun to make impromptu trips to Haiti to visit the Minister of the Interior, all in an effort to get their children home in a reasonable timeframe.
One adoptive dad has initiated a petition of sorts, and is encouraging anyone who is stuck in the process, or who has a heart for Haitian adoptions to add their names to the list of signers. His letter is reprinted here, with permission. You may be added to the list by emailing Kodak McClain at KodakMcClain@yahoo.com. Time is of the essence as the letter will be sent to Haiti on Monday, May 21, 2007.
My name is Kodak McClain. I am one of hundreds of people across the world anxiously waiting to bring one or more Haitian children in to our families and homes.
I began the adoption process from your country in May 2006. Many other parents started several months before me. Over one year later, we continue to wait on the office of the Minister of Interior to release our children’s files so that they may receive a passport. Some parents have been waiting over seven months. Hundreds of children – fully ready to travel to their new homes – wait for their passports in orphanages, unable to leave.
There have been several attempts by adopting parents, orphanage directors, adoption facilitators, Haitian lawyers, and Haitian Ambassadors abroad to have the Office of Political Affairs release the files for passports, but each have had no success. Many of the above mentioned individuals have been told of new requirements added almost daily by the office of the Minister of Interior and Office of Political Affairs. Examples include (but are not limited to) filing a long form with detailed, personal, information about the adopting parents; copies of health identification cards, copies of driver’s licenses, copies of passports, interviewing the birth parents of the children and more. Monsieur Pierre told a facilitator the second week of May that he refuses to release any files until he receives a personal letter from you, the President of Haiti, telling him to do so.
I know you are a busy man with many demanding issues in front of you. I also know that one of those demanding issues is a better life and future for the children of Haiti. The effect of this problem is also devastating the population of desperately needy children in Haiti. The orphanages which perform adoptions are full. They cannot accept any more children, therefore children are dying.
I respectfully request your help, Sir. We beg of you – please, can you step in and streamline the adoption process within this office? It appears no one of a lower rank will suffice for Monsieur Pierre, the Minister of Interior or the Office of Political Affairs. If you are able to provide any guidance or assistance in understanding or resolving this situation, we would be forever grateful.
Respectfully, and with thanks,
[Second Page will list everyone that wants to sign this letter]
For more information about Haitian adoptions, please visit: