Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Government Meetings on Haitian Adoptions Complete

The following is an article from Haiti Libre:

Haiti - Social : End of the Conference on International Adoption

27/06/2011 14:59:22

At the initiative of Quebec and France, an international conference was held in Port-au-Prince from June 22 to 24, 2011 bringing together the Group of Montreal, represented by nine central authorities (Germany, Belgium, Flemish Community of Belgium, Federal Authority of Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Netherlands, Canada, Switzerland) the Embassy of Spain, the UNICEF representative in Haiti, the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference, the Central Authority of Chile, in the presence of governmental and parliamentary authorities of the Republic of Haiti and the Social welfare and Research Institute (IBESR), Haitian adoption authority.

The Group of Montreal has reaffirmed its commitment to the principles of the Hague Convention of 1993 on Protection of children and the cooperation in respect of intercountry adoption. After the meeting to Montreal in December 2010, which set the guidelines for a joint action plan in preparation for the ratification of the Convention, has constituted a signal awaited by the international community, of the will of the Haitian authorities to secure the adoption procedures.

Before the Group of Montreal, the President Martelly is firmly committed to complete, during his mandate, the process of ratification of the Hague Convention, and include the law on adoption, to the parliamentary agenda with a review as soon as possible by the Senate and possibly in second reading by the Chamber of Deputies. Pending the adoption of the law, he has committed to make a presidential order requiring the passage of the applications for adoption with the approved bodies. http://www.haitilibre.com/en/news-3232-haiti-social-the-president-martelly-announces-the-imminent-end-of-the-private-adoptions.html

The Head of State continued : "In confidence and transparency, we will be able to identify the ways and means to resumes the international adoption in Haiti. It is my strongest desire in the interest of children and in the respect of their most basic rights" stressing that he relied on "the support and cooperation of the international community, and particularly the host country of children."

Saurel Jacinthe, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, has also assured the Group of Montreal of his will to put the bill to the parliamentary agenda and has expressed his support for a evolution of the Haitian law more consistent with international standards.

Participants to this Conference welcomed the commitment of the highest authorities of the country to engage firmly the Republic of Haiti in favor of the Child Protection and to comply, in matter of adoption, to the principles of the Hague Convention. The Group of Montreal, according to the plan of action that it developed since December 2010, will continue to cooperate with the government of Haiti to implement procedures consistent with the Hague Convention that will allow eventually to resume the international adoptions in this country.

S/ HaitiLibre

Read the article on HaitiLibre.com.

So what does all of this mean for families in process today, or those who want to start a Haitian adoption?

Note: the following is an educated guess made by a private individual. It does not constitute legal advice, or the official advice of All Blessings International, a Hague Accredited adoption agency.

Most of us (meaning my colleagues in Haiti and other Hague nations) seem to feel that much of the information that came out of the meeting, both publicly and privately, was quite positive.

Possible Re-Opening of Haitian Adoptions for 'Frozen' Hague Nations
It could very well be that various nations/provinces that have 'frozen' Haitian adoptions for their citizens may defrost, and allow Haitian children to follow the legal process to permanent homes within their borders.

This is a very positive step, as most of the reputable U.S. agencies with longstanding programs in Haiti are struggling to find enough families with which to place the children we are already serving. Things were bad before the earthquake. Now, they are far worse and the need for permanent, safe families for destitute and abandoned children is more desperate than it has ever been before.

The End of 'Independent' Adoptions
President Martelly has stated that he is going to put a stop to independent adoptions. There are a few possible interpretations of this remark, but as he also stated that he wants Haiti to more toward the Hague, most of us suspect he means that all adoptions must be overseen by a licensed adoption agency in the adoptive parents country of origin, and that all adoptions must be processed by a properly licensed Haitian entity. This will mean one of the 67 licensed crèches. As President Martelly is decisively interested in Haiti becoming Hague compliant, and the new law is very clear on the matter, we expect that all adoptive parents must be working with a Hague accredited agency in their home countries to oversee their adoptions.

Most of us who work with Haiti are desperately eager to see the immediate end of independent adoptions. We have already seen in the number and ratio of disruptions among the children who came into the U.S. on the Humanitarian Parole program that adoptions with no agency involvement were far more likely to end in disaster and heartbreak. Those who had no crèche and no agency probably wouldn't have gotten here at all, but for the HP program, but many of those ended badly as well. Perhaps you are one of those rare families who adopted independently and all has gone well. It does happen! But without education, support, and supervision during and after placement, both children and their new families can suffer unnecessarily.

I do not know what will happen to the families who are already in process of an independent adoption, but I have heard no mention of 'grandfathering' those cases through the system. Quite frankly, after some of the heartrending messes our agency has stepped in to help with our Mending Hearts program, I hope they are not. The financial savings (if any) cannot possible equal the potential for disaster for a Haitian child. Out of the frying pan, and into the fire! We've had several independent families contact us already, and I assume all of the Standards of Practice and Haiti Crèche Directors crèches and agencies will be ready to help any independent families ready to step under our umbrellas.

Plans to Ratify the Hague - But Not Today
President Martelly declared he wants Haiti to ratify the Hague within his five year term of office. As it was the stated goal of certain organizations to pressure Haiti into ratifying immediately - in fact before Martelly even took office just weeks ago - this is a positive announcement. It would seem the President is aware that Haiti is not currently in compliance with the Hague Convention.

It took the United States fifteen years between signing and ratification to be sure we were compliant. Haiti has a major advantage: all adoptions are already overseen by a Central Authority (IBESR) but so many other necessities present a problem, from laws and policies, accreditations, even permanent record keeping is going to be a major challenge. However, as it was not possible to railroad Haiti into ratifying immediately, perhaps it will not be possible to do so at all until she is truly ready.

In the meantime, steps toward the Hague could do exactly what the Convention is supposed to do: protect all members of the adoption triad. I, and most of my colleagues, would rest a lot easier knowing that every single Haitian family was required to have counseling and a presentation of all of their possible options from a third party before they could choose adoption for their children.

Again, so what does all of this mean for families in process today, or those who want to start a Haitian adoption?

Here's the breakdown. Again, the following is an educated guess made by a private individual. It does not constitute legal advice, or the official advice of All Blessings International, a Hague Accredited adoption agency.

If you are already in process of adoption with an experienced, Hague accredited agency and a licensed crèche: breathe easy. There is no reason at this time to assume that the meetings are going to make your process any more difficult than it was already.

If you are already in process of adoption, but do NOT have both a licensed crèche and a Hague accredited agency: you could be in trouble. It might be wise to explore ways to legitimize your adoption now, just in case. Worst case scenario, you'll end up a better educated and supported parent.

If you have not yet started your adoption: go ahead! That's right - go ahead with an adoption using a Hague accredited agency experienced in Haiti and a licensed crèche. There will be an additional element of risk if Haiti ratifies prematurely and if the U.S. Department of State for some reason behaves differently regarding 'grandfathering' in referred cases than they have in other nations. But there is always risk in international adoption, and this risk is relatively small.

I've had a few questions by email about Haiti shutting down its own adoptions while attempting to implement the Hague. A few other nations have done this. However, those countries did not have well established adoption procedures and programs serving a significant number of children already. Haiti in general is strongly pro-adoption. In my personal opinion, this is not a very likely scenario. I certainly can't predict the future, much less the future of Haiti, but I can study the past. Haiti has never been one to sit down in her tracks and hold her breath while she attempts to save herself. As my friend and colleague Dixie Bickel titles her blog, 'And Life in Haiti Goes On'. And so will adoptions, at least for the reasonable future.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog love all the posts! Thanks for keeping us updated.