Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Official Meetings and Opinionated Women

Sterline Giggles
Meetings day. I go to see both Department of State and United States Immigration and Citizenship Services at the U.S. Embassy. DOS has had a complete staff turnover since my last visit, and I have not been ‘passed down’. This means that I must explain (again) what my position with the Joint Council means and what I can do to assist DOS in their work.

DOS has a new young woman specifically assigned to the orphan Visa cases. It is a tremendous responsibility to be the absolute last barrier between illegal adoption and a child leaving Haiti without the proper procedures being followed.

My next meeting is much more casual. The USCIS Field Office Director and I have met many times over the years. He’s really, really good at his job. After ten years I’ve seen a variety of Field Office Directors come and go. They have ranged from fearful and ineffective to absolutely heroic. This one is cautious, a stickler for proper procedure, and also very compassionate. It’s a shame that he won’t be permanent either.

We discuss the new IBESR policies, the new laws, and rumors of incorrect adoptions processing. We are both hopeful that the required involvement of Hague accredited agencies in all adoptions from here on out will protect adoptive parents as well as Haitian children.

I return to the guest house to find a message from the Crèche Directors Association sent to a number of our colleagues. There will be a meeting at IBESR tomorrow for the crèche directors and the visiting Hague Permanent Bureau delegation. I have a feeling that it will be highly charged and contentious. It will also be conducted in French, which means I’ll understand about every third word.

I give Gladys Thomas, who is the President of the Crèche Directors’ Association, a call to discuss a variety of matters, and she encourages me to crash the meeting even though she won’t be present. I can’t refuse an invitation like that – I’ll be there!

We go to BRESMA again to amuse the kids and ourselves, and I focus on getting good photos for waiting families. There are kids here who like to be photographed even less than I do, so it’s a real challenge. It’s fun to watch how they react to Marg. Some people just understand children!

Diana Boni, Chareyl Moyes, Marg Harrington, and Kathi Juntunen
In the evening we head up to the rebuilt Hotel Montana for a meeting of Haiti warriors. I had planned to meet Chareyl Moyes of Wasatch adoptions before I ever came on this trip, but we’ve expanded the party. Of course I’m bringing Marg along, and Chareyl has a treat for me – she’s bringing Kathi Juntunen of Chances for Children. It’s absolutely thrilling for me to meet another American running an orphanage in Haiti the right way. Chances for Children is properly licensed and aware that their first duty is to keep families intact. Kathi earns a LOT of frequent flyer miles making sure that funds go where they’re supposed to go and human lives are handled with care.

Our supper is long and highly opinionated and joyful, as might be expected when bringing together four women who have dedicated their entire lives to doing things the hard way.

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