Friday, September 19, 2014

They've Got Your Back

USCIS and DOS get a lot of bad press.  They end up in the position of delivering a lot of bad news to adoptive families about denials, false documents, or missing items.  But in my experience both agencies are actually highly dedicated to assisting and protecting adoptive families.

There has been a recent internet rumor that DOS is now requiring adoptive parents to pick up their children's Visas in person.  I can confirm that this is TRUE.  Under a new procedure, one of the people travelling with the child must appear in person to pick up the child's Visa.

The new policy was not designed as one hoop to jump through, but rather as protection for US Citizens adopting in Haiti.  The horrifying fact is that multiple unscrupulous, unethical adoptions facilitators, attorneys, and or crèche directors are picking up children's passports and then holding them until the adoptive parents pay large, unearned sums of money to get them back - extortion, plane and simple!  If DOS gives the passport directly to the adoptive parents, then no extortion over documents can take place.  It's a lot easier to get the Haitian police involved is someone is holding your lawfully adopted child than it is to prove that they have your child's passport.

The Adoptions Unit will send each adoptive family and the facilitator working the case in Haiti a scan of the child's Visa.  This will enable the facilitator to take the scan to IBESR to apply for an exit letter, and will ensure that the adoptive family has confirmation that the Visa has in fact been issued.

Families can email PAPadoptions@state.gov to ask to come in to get their Visas.  Although you will be issued a notice stating that you have an appointment for 8:00 am on the requested date, you may actually appear at any time on that day so long as the Consulate is open.

If for some specific reason your family needs the Adoptions Unit to allow someone else whom you trust completely to pick up your child's precious passport and Visa, you can email PAPadoptions@state.gov and ask for an exception. State specifically who does have permission to pick up your document, and what date that person would like to appear.

ABI strongly approves of this new policy to thwart extortion of adoptive families, many of whom have already been down a long hard road to bring their children home.  Stop by the Consulate, pick up your Visa, bring along your little one to show him off, and let the people who helped to bring your child to the US say goodbye and good luck to your family.