Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New IBESR Policies

Today we received a draft of IBESR's new adoption policies, drafted July 17th, and scheduled to go into effect on the third Monday following the resumption of adoptions in Haiti. Assuming that IBESR re-opens for new cases on August 1st, this would indicate that the new policies will take effect on August 20th.



A few key points in the draft of policies:
  • Independent adoptions will in fact no longer be allowed.
    • All adoptive parents must be working with an agency approved by the Central Authority of their country of citizenship.  In the United States, this means Hague Accredited agencies.
    • IBESR must also approve foreign (U.S./Canadian/etc.) adoption agencies to work in Haiti. A limited number of adoption agencies will be approved
  • Children must be found eligible for adoption by IBESR prior to commencement of adoption proceedings.
    • An IBESR multi-disciplinary committee will meet with any biological family considering relinquishment to consider all possible alternatives for family preservation prior to making an adoption plan.
    • It is prohibited for the prospective adoptive parents have contact with child's biological parents or anyone else that could influence the consent of the person authorized or engaged with the institution in the adoption process, unless the adoption is intrafamilial.
    • Biological families may not give voluntary consent for adoption proceedings for children under one year of age.
  • Minors of either gender are adoptable in the following priority:
    • 1) Orphans
    • 2) Children with physical disabilities
    • 3) Children with developmental disabilities
    • 4) Children declared legally abandoned
    • 5) Children whose parents have consented to the adoption.
The Creche Directors have been asked for their input on the entire policy.

In the personal opinion of this writer, which does not necessarily represent that of All Blessings International or any other group or organization, the new policies represent an enormous leap forward in international adoption policy and children's protection in Haiti.  The strong emphasis on children's safety, family preservation, and post-placement supervision are very much in line with the intentions of the Hague Convention.

This policy plus the passage of a new adoption law that designates adoptions as plenary rather than simple may go a long way toward Hague compliance.

 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here? An open letter to families adopting from Haiti


Dear Families,

From June 22nd through June 25th, All Blessings International’s Haiti Program Coordinator, Diana Boni, accompanied Tom DiFilipo, President of the Joint Council of International Children’s Services, on a trip to Haiti to discuss the implications of Haiti’s Hague ratification with Haitian government officials.

During that visit they were able to meet with the Director of IBESR and IBESR’s legal counsel to discuss the implications of premature ratification as relating to other Hague nations. While IBESR remains committed to processing and permitting legal, ethical international adoptions, the delegation was able to explain that other nations might examine Haiti’s current adoption law and find it non-compliant with the Hague Convention. This would cause those member nations to disallow their citizens to adopt children from Haiti. (Other member states are permitted to lodge an objection to another country's ratification, which means that cases are technically permitted to continue. We are unaware of whether this provision has ever been utilized.)

Ratification is another step in the process of becoming a member nation of the Hague Convention. Initially a country must become a signatory to the Hague, which Haiti did on March 4th, 2011. Then the country must vote to ratify, which as you know occurred on June 11th, 2012. Following ratification, a nation must physically deposit the instrument of ratification at the Hague Permanent Bureau in the Netherlands. Approximately ninety days following deposit, the Hague Convention goes into force in the new member nation, and it is expected to be following the Hague Convention in all adoption proceedings. Haiti has not deposited the instrument of ratification. We recognize that everyone wants to know when the ratification will be deposited. Bearing in mind that it took fourteen months between Haiti becoming a signatory and vote for ratification, as well as the technical issues of actually becoming Hague compliant, we simply cannot offer an estimate and certainly not a definitive answer. Haiti could deposit their instrument for ratification tomorrow or ten years from now!

Following our discussion with both the Director and Primary Legal Counsel of IBESR, both agree that Haiti should not deposit the instrument at least until after the passage of the new proposed adoption law. IBESR will work to postpone depositing the instrument until a more appropriate time, when Haiti is in fact Hague ready. We cannot speculate on IBESR's ability or inability to delay this deposit.

Based upon the speed at which government decisions are generally made in Haiti and IBESR’s decision to attempt to postpone the deposit of the instrument and full accession to the Hague, ABI will continue to serve children in need of permanency and families who desire to adopt from Haiti as previously. All families entering into the process must be aware that Haiti is one step closer to becoming a Hague nation, and that if she does so prior to the passage of the new law that the US Department of State could declare Haiti non-compliant. However, at this time, Haitian adoptions continue to complete in country and children are coming home. Each family must decide for themselves if they are comfortable with the level of risk involved. Even in the most "stable" intercountry programs there is considerable risk and rapidly changing situations occur with little or no warning. We have always warned families in depth and in numerous ways on the risks of international adoption. This is why families must sign and return multiple waiver type documents.

For our part, ABI is choosing to move forward in faith that we can complete the adoptions we begin and bring children safely home. This has never been a guarantee, promise or assurance and it remains, as always, a risk and leap of faith. When and if God closes the door on Haitian adoptions we will do our best to continue supporting children who are in desperate need in Haiti. Until that time, we as a Christian organization, will continue serving those that we can and not turning our back on their needs.

We cannot advise any particular family on what they should do. We will keep families informed via our blog and routine emails. Please check the blog regularly for updates. Families who elect to continue should follow the steps as outlined and we will continue our service to your family.

Sincerely,








A. Lucy Armistead, MA, LPCC
Executive Director
All Blessings International