Monday, April 13, 2015
According to Haitian law, "special needs" include the following:
...children with behavior troubles or suffering from a trauma, or having a physical or mental incapacity, or being older than 6 or are members of a sibling group.
Saturday, March 28, 2015
The kids enter the room where I’m observing carrying little packets of something sticky. I’m offered several pre-chewed bites, but politely decline. I don’t need any Medika Mamba to help me gain weight, thanks.
From the other room comes the sound of a child being beaten or murdered or tortured – I’m not sure which. They are all toddlers in this room, after all… The racket continues for a good five minutes and I go to investigate. L. is sitting in a high chair, next to his twin sister. She’s scowling, but he is screaming his head off, his whole head wet with tears and sweat. L. is trying to hit everyone in sight, filled with rage. The nannies are bellowing over his deafening protests, discussing the Nutella they are mixing with his Medika Mamba. I knew he didn’t like the Medika Mamba, which he needs, so they have to mix it with chocolate to get him to eat it, but this is ridiculous. A nanny forces a bite into his mouth, L. screaming so hard I’m worried he’ll choke. He shoves the bowl away violently. His sister is feeding herself the peanut butter mixed with chocolate, still glaring at everyone, but eating it. I take a taste. It’s delicious – like Reese’s peanut butter cups melted in a bowl! I tell L. that if he doesn’t eat it, I’m going to take it and eat it myself. That cools him down a little bit, but he’s still throwing an impressive tantrum. I ask his nannies what the problem is. It is very difficult to imagine any child who would not be very, very happy to eat what is in L.’s bowl right now.
One of the nannies explains the problem. It’s the bowl, not what is in it. L. is outraged that they won’t stuff the mixture back into the little baggie so that he can squeeze it out into his mouth like everybody else. So, to summarize, our previously starving Haitian orphan is now a spoiled little prince! I am delighted. One of the nannies scolds him, tells him to eat or she’s going to take his bowl away, and he resentfully begins to stuff himself, still giving us all the evil eye. Ah, the drama of toddlerhood. Praise God that our little prince now has the energy, determination, and confidence to protest how he is served the food specially mixed to meet his discriminating palate!
The new kids have not yet learned to be so demanding, but I have faith that in time they too will become the little tyrants that every tiny child has a right to be.
At the guest house I eat lunch (yeah!) and meet with the director of another orphanage about a complicated case. The child was in the US on a medical Visa for 20 months, having been born without an anus. The repair was not entirely successful, and B. now has no bowel control. She’s back in Haiti, but her biological family has eight other children and is unable to care for a child who ‘leaks’ and will probably be in diapers for the rest of her life without more intervention, never mind the repeated serious bladder infections her condition is causing. We’re going to attempt to do the next-to-impossible: a pre-identified Hague adoption when one of the parents is over age. But exceptional circumstances merit exceptional measures, and as I told the delegation on Wednesday, odd cases roll downhill to ABI. This will be a huge battle, but it is absolutely the right thing to do. Finding another family for a child with B.’s condition when there is already one who wants her, who she already thinks of and refers to as her own family, would be even more difficult. So, we’ll do what we must for the love of one child.
Finally Margarette and I get to meet. We’ve gone over our cases in the van between our endless meetings and appointments this week. Now we must go over our contracts for all cases submitted to IBESR following October of 2014. It’s a radical shift in how we work, and after eleven years of trust and partnership that have worked so very well, neither one of us is pleased about making any changes. I tell Margarette that if she doesn’t like the contract it’s my fault, since I’m the one who edited it for Haiti. It’s ten pages of single-spaced legalese, all written to conform to the Hague and US Immigration law.
Our contract was not easy to write, and it’s not pleasant to sign as it represents a parting of the ways. All these years, we’ve worked only with orphanages we know and trust. Safe homes for children where they are not only fed and given medical care, but also love and opportunities for development. Places which would give us honest evaluations of each child’s needs and strengths, with which we would jointly propose matches to families who would best serve each child. Now, the matches will be made by a committee that does not yet exist, and the trust will be replaced by protocols, hope, and faith. My visits to our partner crèches will be no more than that – visits, not evaluations of children and who can best parent them. Now I'm the one who wants to scream and cry, but it won't do me any good either.
Friday, March 27, 2015
|An album from his new family to show off to his buddies|
|K.E. (soon to be K.E.B.) gives AUBE orphanage |
a thumbs up
Thursday, March 26, 2015
|It's not Disneyland, it's God's Littlest Angels' new facility|
To the mountains! I always love a visit to GLA, particularly when I’m visiting Haiti in the summer. I live in South Dakota in the US, and it’s hot there, but nothing like Haiti in August. Every year I vow not to come in July or August, and inevitably some meeting or event is scheduled for which I must be present. The Haitian mountains are cool and beautiful – tropical green with towering evergreens and brilliant bougainvillea and hibiscus everywhere.
My meeting with Dixie is more frustration. She has many abandoned children in care from the Kenscoff area. It is necessary for the Mayor of Kenscoff to sign off on their adoptions before the children’s judge. This is a common theme – certain mayors of the larger cities are trying to extort the equivalent of US $320 PER CHILD from the orphanages for each certificate they sign in court. In this case, the problem is different but just as maddening. The previous mayor issued the original abandonment certificates. Now this one doesn’t want to continue what he started. This is a perpetual problem in Haitian bureaucracy, even more so than in our own. Public servants seem to have no concept of their office as a continuous entity. It makes no difference who the mayor was when the certificates were issued, so long as the office did in fact issue the certificates. They were not issued by a person, but rather by the position itself. Dixie has had many children in care for many, many years at this point, and some of them have no other homes to go to. So difficult.
|Playhouse at Ft. Jacques|
My final appointment of the day would also have been in the mountains, but today Dr. Bernard is downtown in his office. At least we beat most of the traffic as it is only midafternoon when I arrive. We discuss a few of our cases together, including a really complicated situation involving a child who is in the US on a medical Visa and cannot return. Dr. Bernard is even more of a cynic than I am, but I persuade him that we really do need to keep all relevant government officials completely in the loop, even though I agree that he is surely correct and that they have forgotten all about the child and her medical needs. We will do every single step by the book. That policy has served ABI very well over the years, and we’re sticking to it!
I’m very happy to learn that New Life Link has in fact gotten multiple referrals, not just the one for the twin girls going to an ABI family. Dr. Bernard’s young employee Emmanuel is doing an excellent job, and I make sure to tell Dr. Bernard that he is. Really dedicated, competent help is hard to find.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
|Good ol' Boys Club|
The morning starts with a tour of BRESMA for some special visitors. I think they’re very impressed by what they see, and one person present (who is an attorney in real life) shows her true colors when her colleagues have to shoo her out the door. She would rather stay and color with the preschool age girls. I would too, but today is not the day for personal preferences. It’s time to put on our diplomatic hats and fancier clothes and head to the US Embassy.
The delegation tells me they have not yet begun to focus on the straight Hague cases, as they don’t anticipate any I800 filings for Haiti cases processed under the new law for quite some time. They are visibly taken aback when I inform them that I will in fact be filing the first such case in about two months at most. The moral of the story, my American readers, is DO NOT LET YOUR I600A EXPIRE! I suppose they’ll have to figure out how to process Haiti Hague cases sooner rather than later!
|Leg of a starving one-year-old child|
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
I’m met by friends and colleagues at the airport – the Jacmel site directors of the Hands and Feet Project. They live here full time, and if they have parkas anymore, I imagine it takes some digging to unearth them.
Sunday, December 21, 2014
- A Love Beyond Borders
- All Blessings International
- All God's Children
- America World Adoption
- Bethany Christian Services
- Building Arizona Families
- Carolina Adoption Services
- Chinese Children Adoption International
- Children's Connection
- Children of all Nations
- European Adoption Services Consultants
- Holt International
- Lifeline Children's Services
- MLJ Adoptions
- Nightlight Christian Services
|Not everyone is so lucky as to be at an orphanage like New Life Link!|
Given that only 49 agencies worldwide have been accredited, if the quota is upheld only 833 children or sibling groups will be placed for adoption each year. The number of children that IBESR is declaring in need of adoption services seems to be significantly higher. Hopefully a compromise can be reached so that the needs of vulnerable and homeless children, particularly those with special needs, can be met.