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.


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

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