Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DOS Hague Panel Discussion

I’m only writing this tonight because I’m afraid I might forget something by morning if I don’t. I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck, and home has never looked so good. And they even had a really good supper waiting for me…

The panel discussion was held at the home of Consul General Donald Moore. The panel and a few invitees sat in salon which had been set up for our meeting. The Consul’s house has airconditioning, which impressed me as much as anything else. It’s been pretty hot down here!
I was one of three adoption workers asked to speak. Vera Valdivia and Mansour Masse spoke as well. Dixie Bickel had been invited, but she was in Canada and unable to attend. Judge Rock Cadet of Parquet Court and Madame Jean Bernard Pierre, Director of IBESR participated as well. The attendees included representatives from most of the major crèches, the Swiss Ambassador, UNICEF, and the press.

All three adoption service providers were unified in our message – implementing the Hague prematurely in Haiti would be disastrous. Mine was unfortunately the longest speech, although I did cut it short. I had practiced many times with a stop watch, but I never thought to allow for the translation of everything I said into French. My translator and I had some troubles hearing each other. I ended up translating some of my own remarks into Kreyol, which got me a big laugh. Probably at least in part because of my fumbling speech.

My speech included a case study between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which is a Hague country. Like other Latin American nations who have implemented the Hague, there are almost no intercountry adoptions out of the Dominican. I pointed out a large discrepancy in statistics. Although the DR’s average Gross National Income is 6.3 times that of Haiti, the mortality rate of children under five in Haiti is only twice that of the Dominican Republic. I speculated that perhaps the crèches, with their children in care, their schools, their nutrition programs, and their temporary care might be part of the reason. I also asserted very clearly that if we ratify the Hague prematurely and shut down international adoptions, children will die.

After the panel spoke, a UNICEF staff member rose and stated that if Haiti ratified the Hague, no children would die. I hope that means that if it happens, UNICEF will come to my house with food for all the children living here. Although UNICEF’s official position is that it approves of international adoption as a last resort for children, in practice UNICEF is often content to settle for children remaining in orphanages in their native countries. As UNICEF’s primary funding source, the United States really must make clear that every child has the right to a permanent family.

Overall I think the panel went very well. I was so honored to meet all the important people present. It is fortunate I was asked questions about adoption, about which I feel so passionately, or I would have been completely tongue-tied and foolish before them. As it is, I am very relieved that it is over and I lived! On to the next one!

Margarette dragged herself to the meeting, despite just having arrived from France. We had a very quick meeting at the office this evening, and then I nagged her about turning off her phone and going to bed. I begged her husband to hide her phone and unplug the internet. Margarette insists that she’s going right back to work tomorrow, but she was visibly exhausted. Nobody can keep up that pace.

I leave tomorrow with a small friend riding in my lap all the way to Denver. I’ve finished my book, but somehow I’m sure that I’ll have enough to do spending the whole day on airplanes with a 17 month old boy.

Another successful trip. The kids all want to know what day I’m coming back. I think this time I’ll stay at home for at least two months, but I know I’ll miss them before that.


  1. Thanks for taking the time to keep us informed. I don't really understand what UNICEF is trying to do in Haiti, but I am so glad that you had a successful trip.


  2. Thanks for the update. How are the children at Bresma? Are they getting the necessities of life and some stimulation? I hope you took a 17 month old home when you traveled to Denver. My son (39)along with his girl friend, is visiting his orphanage in Vietnam today. This is his second visit and I hope it goes as well as the first. Richelor is doing well. I agree with you regarding the Hague position and don't understand their stand on adoption. It seems as if it goes against the well being of children. Anyone we can contact to counter their strong position on adoption in Haiti? Hope you are well and all the adoption are coming along.
    Elizabeth Costantino (Richelor's grandmother)