Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Latest Version of the New Adoption Law

The following excerpt was translated by Isabelle Gaellemart of France from a scan of new law as approved by the Chamber of Deputies on May 7th. The law, along with the unfortunate news that there were not sufficient Senators present to form a quorum, and that no voting on the law could occur until after elections, was shared with me by the US Consulate in Haiti.

Here are the qualifications for adoptive families as described by the latest draft of the pending adoption law:

SECTION 1 – Regarding adoptive parents

ARTICLE 2. – Adoption may be requested jointly by a married heterosexual couple not living separately, after five (5) years of marriage or if one of the couple is more than thirty years old.
If the request comes from one of the non-separated couple, the consent of the other is necessary.

ARTICLE 3.- Two people of opposite sexes, living together for at least ten (10) years, may request to adopt a child. Their living together must be established by a certificate delivered by the competent authorities of the host country and the consent of both is necessary.

ARTICLE 4.- Candidatures of women, widowers or divorced, who are at least thirty-five (35) years old, with no biological child, are accepted. A man must be a widower or divorced, with no biological children and at least 35 years old.

ARTICLE 5.- Priority is given to couples who are married or living together who do not have biological children at the time of the adoption. When the couple has biological or adopted children, the latter should give their opinion if they are 8 years of age or more.

ARTICLE 6.- The age of the adopters may not be over 50 for the oldest of the married couple or those living together in a common-law relationship. This limitation of age doesn't apply for inter family adoptions.

ARTICLE 7.- The adopters must be at least sixteen years older than the child they wish to adopt.
The minimum age difference is 9 years in the case of the adoption of the child by a common-law partner or of a close relative such as a sister, brother, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt or other close relative.

ARTICLE 8.- The birth in a home of one or more biological children does not constitute an obstacle to the adoption of one or more children placed earlier with a couple and who continue to benefit from their care.

ARTICLE 9.- When the sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, cousins, uncles, aunts or other close relatives, and even godsons and goddaughters, have been taken in by close relatives or their godfathers or godmothers, following the deaths of their biological parents or during a fairly long imprisonment, or when the parents are absolutely incapable of meeting the basic needs and providing basic care for their minor children, adoption is possible even if the close relatives already have biological children, depending on the conditions stated in Article 7.

ARTICLE 10.- A Haitian may adopt a foreign child according to the laws of the child’s country of origin.
A simple or plenary adoption is recognized in Haiti depending on the registration of said adoption in the government office of the petitioner’s home.
In the case of the conversion of a simple adoption into a plenary adoption, a request must be made of the Dean of the civil court of the petitioner’s home in order to obtain a judgment for cause.
The plenary adoption gives the child a right to Haitian nationality.

Article 5 originally specified that families with NO children could adopt any child, while families with one or two children could only adopt those with special circumstances - over age five, or with special needs. The current version is quite literally a life saver, as many of the children we place are members of sibling groups, or would do best with experienced parents.

Article 4 continues to be problematic. The way it is worded could exclude all single women who have never married. A great many of our most successfully parents are single women who have never been married. There is some chance that lobbying may be able to change this language. If not, I've heard that you can get married and then divorced in Vegas in less than 48 hours...

But all joking aside, a new law with explicit protections for protection of children and their birth families is a necessary step for Haiti. Despite the overwhelming number of children whose parents are now seeking to relinquish them, there will still be unscrupulous adoption facilitators who fail to tell birth parents the truth of the loss that accompanies every international adoption. Yes, your child will live. Yes, he will be loved and have opportunities beyond what he would have here. But no, there is no guarantee that you will ever see him again. Only when a full explanation of what international adoption means for every birth parent is made into law will we know for sure that all adoptions in Haiti are made with the families' fully informed consent.

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