Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hague and Haitian Adoptions for U.S. Citizens

On June 11th, 2012, Haiti ratified the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. At this time we do not know the date that Haiti will deposit the instrument of ratification to the Hague Permanent Bureau and we do not know whether the Hague Permanent Bureau will accept the ratification. Ninety days after the instrument is delivered, if the Hague Permanent Bureau accepts their packet, Haiti will become a Hague country. We have been advised that it is possible that Haiti may hold off for a considerable period of time in depositing their ratification. There are still many unknowns at this point and a clear timeline of how this will unfold is impossible to foretell.

At this time the future effects of these changes for U.S. Citizens adopting from Haiti are unclear. An ABI representative has been told that Haiti is in favor of continuing international adoptions and has no intention of closing the adoption program. The current administration of IBESR looks forward to creating a better regulated system, with improved protections in place for Haitian biological families and children being placed for adoption. IBESR made the decision to temporarily stop accepting new adoption dossiers until August 1, 2012, making clear their intention to clear out their backlog of cases and to allow IBESR administration the time to implement new policies that would strengthen their system.

It is also unknown how the U.S. Department of State might react to Haiti’s ratification. Historically, even if the Department of State determines that a new Hague nation is not following the convention and therefore closes adoptions from that nation to U.S. Citizens, families in process – those who had filed a form I600-A – were allowed to complete their adoptions.

The Hague Permanent Bureau in their published Guidebook to Good Practices advocates gradual implementation and outlines recommended steps for this process that developing countries should take to strengthen international adoption practice but not prohibit the opportunity that intercountry adoption affords to many children in need. Many countries have prematurely deposited their articles of ratification and/or implemented the Hague Treaty tenets in such a way that what was intended for child protection becomes a weapon against them. We certainly hold out great hope that Haiti may hold off on depositing their ratification until sufficient law changes have been passed in Haiti and until their social welfare system has developed the resources to accommodate a system of protection that is actually reasonable, practical and able to be implemented.

We believe this presents a unique opportunity for the poorest country in the western hemisphere to serve as a valuable model for the best way to implement Hague. We ask that all pray continuously for the Haitian leadership involved to have wisdom and discernment as they move forward.

At this time, Haitian adoptions remain open and a legal option for U.S. Citizens. ABI advises all families considering a Haitian adoption to proceed with caution as we continue to investigate Haiti’s accession to the Hague Convention and what it might mean for future adoptions from Haiti for U.S. Citizens. Families must be accepting of the risks of pursuing an adoption from Haiti. We further advise families to check the Department of State's adoption notices for current information on adoption from Haiti and any publications of Joint Council on International Children's Services regarding Haiti.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Haiti Ratifies the Hague Convention

The following information was shared directly by the Hague Permanent Bureau:

Mr Guillaume (Lawyer - Project Manager, IBESR) and UNICEF have confirmed that the Haitian Parliament approved the Decree for the ratification of the Hague Convention of 29 May 1993 on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption yesterday, Monday 11 June 2012. However, for the ratification to take effect at an international level and to consider Haiti as a State Party to the Convention, Haiti must deposit its instrument of ratification before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (the depository). The date of entry into force of the Convention will be the first day of the month following the expiration of three months after the deposit the instrument of ratification.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour has been designated as the Central Authority.

UNICEF informed the Permanent Bureau that the President of the National Assembly promised the inclusion of the approval of the Draft law on Adoptions into the legislative agenda in the following two weeks. The new challenge will be to ensure that the new Draft law is in accordance with the 1993 Hague Convention.

At this time, we do not know exactly what this will mean for Haitian adoptions.  It is evident that the Haitian government has no wish to close international adoptions.