First thing in the morning Franck and I go down to the airport to pick up my friend and colleague Delia Ramsbotham, Managing Director of Sunrise Adoption Services out of BC Canada. This is her first trip to Haiti, and we’re going to have a blast. Plus, since I’m in the car, I know that her ride will be there to pick her up on time. She’s one of the first people off the plane, so we are back at the guesthouse in record time.
Delia’s always game for an adventure, so we head up to BRESMA right away. I give her the grand tour, assisted by a child whose name is Luke but whom we all call ‘Ti President’, because he’s earned the name. The kid will make an amazing politician or ambassador someday.
We just finish our tour when one of the nurses calls me, saying IBESR is here and asking for me. I am completely bewildered, but I hustle downstairs.
There I find Mme. Jean from IBESR. She is the lone IBESR social worker who has been assigned to cover all socialization reports for visits occurring within Port-au-Prince. She tells me she wants me to interpret. I tell her I’m not good enough, and that she should use one of our nannies who is far more bilingual than I am. Mme. Jean insists she wants me to do it, and I’m not foolish enough to argue. Fortunately for me she has had formal education in foreign language, so she understands how to use small words or use other words to cover for those that I don’t know.
I’ve never had the opportunity to see an adoptive parent interview, so this is really good luck! Mme. Jean begins by explaining to my family that she’s not here to frighten or stress them. Her duty is to observe them and sign off on their visit, thus fulfilling the legal requirements. Mme. Jean is a trained social worker, and she explains to me as an aside that she’s more interested in observing the family than she is in what they actually have to say.
She asks a few basic questions, and several that will help her to ascertain how the family feels about the children. Meanwhile the kids are expressing what they think with their actions. They show their comfort with and attachment to their prospective parents with every gesture and behavior. Mme. Jean asks a few tough questions too, about what the family would do in the event of death or divorce or a serious accident to the children. She asks a trick question to see if the family will obey the regulations of the new Haitian adoption law regarding the interdiction against contact between the biological and adoptive families, which none of us were expecting. Fortunately my clients are well-educated about the law and understand the duties of the crèche and the agency in upholding the law, no matter what we feel about it.
Margarette and I are supposed to have a meeting at IBESR this afternoon, so we have to hurry out the door the moment the interview is over. I eat on the run like an American, and they Margarette and I are off to complete multiple stops and errands before our appointment meeting time.
First we go by the Justice complex, to Parquet court. The Dean of Port-au-Prince has let Margarette know that the Proces Verbal for an abandoned child is complete and legalized. Thank goodness for the Mayor of Delmas, who seems to care about the abandoned children in his jurisdiction! After an extensive search, we track down the secretary for the Dean and the precious document is in our hands. This Proces Verbal is for a little girl who came to BRESMA as an unbelievably fragile and tiny preemie. Our nurse kept Shaika with her every moment, waking and sleeping, for many months. Now she is a sturdy toddler, glowing with health. I pray that she will soon get a referral to a family, now that she is finally legally free for adoption.
Next we stop by Children’s Court where Margarette checks in with a judge and briefly consults with a biological father who is here to sign a P.V for his daughter. The mother passed away, and the baby he brought in with his pre-school aged daughter died in the hospital shortly after arriving at BRESMA, too weakened by illness and starvation to survive. It is a harsh world here. I am grateful that we have a suitable family for the little girl, and that we can hope for a referral letter for her fairly soon.
On we go to IBESR, where Margarette visits several departments checking on cases. We are thrilled to learn that the Director has signed a dossier of a very complicated pre-identified adoption and that Autorisation d’ Adoption has been issued! It is being entered in the computer system, but I can see it for myself in the hands of the staff member working on it. On Monday, we can come back and take it out of IBESR at last, free to move through the legal process.
We stop by the desk of Me. Nathalie Jean, an attorney who was at the meeting on Friday, where we enter into a lively, er, negotiation regarding whether ABI can submit the dossier of a family in which one parent will turn fifty-one very shortly. I have to mention the memo IBESR issued this summer, which clearly stated that we have until my clients actual fifty-first birthday to submit the dossier. She expresses concern about USCIS rejecting the case once it gets there. I ask her to let me argue about the law with USCIS, because that’s my job. Except in this case the law is quite clear, and there will be no argument. She concedes, and we get permission to submit the dossier on Monday.
Margarette and I wait for over an hour before we are finally told that Me. Guillaume and Mme. Villedrouin will not be able to meet with us – their previous meeting is running very late. But they do reschedule us for Monday.
In Haiti, you can have plans, you just can’t have expectations. However, today certainly surpassed any expectations I might have had!