Friday, December 18, 2009

The Current Haitian Adoption Process

The many steps listed below are those all the Creche Directors of Haiti must follow for each and every adoption. Add to their number the extreme difficulty of accomplishing each one: every step must be accomplished in person and by hand.

Most of the offices listed do not have computers. There will be no communications by fax or email or even by official phone calls. Facilitators must visit each office personally to check on the status of each case, and carry it by hand through the traffic of Port-au-Prince to the next stage of the process.

Pre-IBESR
While you are gathering your dossier and before your case ever enters IBESR, your adoption facilitator had to gather each of the following documents:

  1. Passport pictures of the child
  2. Birth Certificate
  3. Attestation of signature on Birth Certificate or extract from the National Archives
  4. Legal relinquishment of custody to the orphanage from the local judge
  5. Psychological evaluation
  6. Medical evaluation
  7. Laboratory tests
  8. Social history
  9. Proces Verbal (A legal document in which the biological family grants the creche the right to place their child with your family for international adoption. Can only be completed after your dossier is in Haiti.)

IBESR and Dispensation
Your dossier can now be submitted to IBESR. If your family does not meet the criteria of the law of 1974, your dossier can be pre-approved for Presidential Dispensation and delivered to the Presidential Palace by IBESR. Dispensations are published in Le Moniteur. Following Dispensation, IBESR will sign off on your dossier and grant an Authorization of Adoption.

Time lines for this step have been highly inconsistent in the past year.

Parquet Court
The 'step' we refer to as Parquet court is actually a very complex series of steps and processes involving multiple offices and repeated trips between them.

  1. Attorney addresses a Request for Judgment to the Chief Justice of Parquet Court
  2. Birth parents are interviewed in Parquet Court
  3. Parquet Court signs off on "approval judgement for adoption
  4. Facilitator takes approval to DGI for stamp of authorization
  5. Back to Parquet for enforcement of the approval judgement
  6. Authorization and redaction from the Civil Registrar Officer for legal Adoption Decree
  7. Verification in parquet of the adoption documents by the Civil Registrar before signing the adoption decree
  8. First Legalization of the Adoption Decree, in Parquet Court
  9. Second Legalization of the Adoption Decree, at the Ministry of Justice
  10. Third Legalization of the Adoption Decree, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  11. Obtain attestation of Adoption Decree from the National Archives

Ministry of the Interior
All international adoption cases are reviewed by the Ministry of Interior. In order to obtain authorization to request a passport, the following documents must be submitted for each child:

  1. Four passport sized pictures
  2. Birth Certificate
  3. Attestation for the Birth Certificate
  4. Extract from the National Archives for the Birth Certificate
  5. Relinquishment
  6. Proces Verbal of adoption
  7. Adoption approval judgement
  8. Adoption Decree
  9. Attestation of the Adoption Decree
  10. Power of Attorney for creche director and/or attorney
  11. Stamp from DGI
  12. Notary letter for the passport
  13. Identification card of facilitator and/or attorney on the case
  14. Biological parents' identification cards
  15. Adoptive parents' MOI form, identification, and passport photos

The Ministry of Interior will grant authorization to submit the dossier to Haitian Immigrations for a passport.

Haitian Immigrations
The facilitator will submit authorization to apply for a passport to Haitian Immigrations. This is generally a quick process - one to two weeks, if all equipment is working properly.

US Immigrations
Note to international readers - US Immigrations performs the most rigorous investigation of international adoptions. Other nations' Immigrations process are different. Please check with your agency to learn about the process for your home country.)

Parts of the US Immigrations process can occur concurrently with the Haitian process, however USCIS cannot sign off on the case until they have verified the final Adoption Decree and the child's passport. DNA may be requested at any time.

American families are advised to work closely with their agencies to ensure a smooth and efficient US Immigrations process for their child.

Approximately three to four weeks following completion of all USCIS investigations and adjudication of the I600 for the child, the case will be forwarded to the Department of State for issuance of a Visa. The Department of State also has the right to request DNA testing for birth parent and child. Adoptive parents need not be present for the Visa appointment.

Parents who can prove that they visited their child prior to the issuance of the Adoption Decree by Parquet Court will be issued an IR-3 Visa. Their children will be automatically granted full US Citizenship upon arrival in the US.

Families who did not visit their children prior to the date of the Adoption Decree must file for citizenship for their children. Failure to file for citizenship will leave the child as a legal immigrant and unprotected by the rights of full citizenship. Please refer to the USCIS website for form N-600 and instructions on how to file.

Summary

These steps were provided by Margarette Saint Fleur of BRESMA orphanage. All legitimate adoptions facilitators must follow each one of them, and must do so under extremely difficult conditions.

Haitian adoptions are taking far, far too long. Children are waiting in orphanages for months and even years while the process drags on. And yet, when we look at the immensely complicated process, we must realize what a miracle it is when each child comes home.

When you travel to pick up your child at last, thank the people who made your adoption possible. No amount of money could ever cover the exhaustion and frustration they endure for each case, and most of them work for very little or no pay at all. Their reward is seeing the children they live for go home with families who will love and cherish them for the rest of their lives.

Thank your facilitator by telling her how grateful you are for her work, and thank her by sending her pictures over the years of your child growing up safe and happy. It is their sacrifices that make our adoptions and our families possible.

4 comments:

  1. Since reading this and reflecting on the conference call, I have an all new appreciation for the process! Thank you so much for taking the time to write this out for us. Having been to Haiti I can appreciate the challenges you describe of trying to get business done in a third world country. Even so, I still forget & slip into that American mindset of impatience and wondering why it takes so long. This writing truly helps me grasp the complexity and helps me wait more patiently. Many thanks to you, Margarette and others who do work tirelessly to bring so many children home.

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  2. Thanks for this information. Hopefully it will allow people to be more patient. Many of us show our appreciation by supporting Bresma financially even though our family member is home. I don't know if Margarite knows this, but I know Jamie and Ali know this to be true.

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  3. Diana, Happy new year!
    I keep hearing on some of the lists of a judge in PAP who is insisting on the adoptive parents to appear before him at some time early in the porcess - that is not in your list - is it something only some O's are having to do?

    Douby is 8 now and still wonderful!
    Patricia

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