Thursday, October 29, 2015

And... back to frustration!

On Friday, October 23rd, USCIS and DOS hosted a conference call for Haiti adoption stakeholders.  Together they have created this chart:

Information regarding a child's name after adoption is in direct conflict with information I was given personally at IBESR on Friday, October 16th.  Unfortunately, this is par for the course in Haiti.  If you want a Visa for your child, you will need to follow the instructions provided by USCIS and DOS.

According to the information that USCIS and DOS have, your child must have the surname of his biological parents removed from his name on his adoption judgment and his certificate of adoption.  However, all three entities will accept a passport issued prior to November 1st, 2015, with the child's original surname still in place, provided that you can show that is was made using the original adoption certificate with the Haitian surname included.  This will save families much time and money, but the decision (and the inconsistency) remain maddening.

IBESR claims that they never discussed name changes for abandoned children with USCIS and DOS, while USCIS and DOS state that they asked about them repeatedly and could not get an answer.  Actually, I believe both parties!  I suspect this is a cultural issue.  In the United states, your surname is the name that is after your first name and your middle name, if you have one.  In Haiti, a surname is the family name given to you by your parents, which just happens to be tacked on after your first name(s).  Therefore, asking about an abandoned child's last name makes no sense at all.  They don't have surnames through Haitian eyes, because we have no idea who their birth families were.  The mayor of wherever the child was found will give him one or two or three names, and whichever one of them happens to be last in line still isn't his "last name" in the sense that we consider it to be one.

At this point, it seems that USCIS/DOS want us to remove whichever name the mayor put in last position on an abandoned child's birth certificate, and most judges are not doing so.  They're simply giving the child his new family's last name on the end of the names he already has.  Not sure how this one is going to play out...

Please refer to the DOS charts for your next steps:

DOS has also released a list of anticipated court filing costs.  These are generally accurate for documents made in Port-au-Prince.  Regional courts may require an expedite fee if you want your documents done quickly, as will the National Archives and parquet/MOJ/MFA for legalization.  Please note that the DOS fees do not include any payment for the (exhausting) labor of the person performing the work, nor the cost of paying an attorney to write a letter to the Dean.  Also, most courts will not issue receipts for payments made.

For those families whose child's biological parents relinquished before a Justice of the Peace before the issuance of the new law on November 13th, 2013, the following is a list of steps to be taken, as specified by IBESR and the Deans:

1.  Pick up dossier from USCIS
2.  Submit a copy of all the child dossier to IBESR
3.  Interview biological parent in IBESR + Sign consent
4.  Request letter + "Ordinance" to the Dean asking him for the appearance of the biological parent to sign a relinquishment
5.  Pick up relinquishment from Dean's office (plenary consent)
6.  Request letter to the Dean in order to obtain the "Soit communiqué" for the transfer of the dossier to parquet
7.  Appearance of the biological parents to Parquet for interview by the prosecutor
8.   delivery of "Conclusions" from parquet
9.   Redaction of Judgment (Dean Office)
10. Register of Judgment at DGI (stamps)
11. submission of the Judgment to parquet for Exequatur
12. Submission of dossier to the civil registrar to obtain the Adoption Decree
13. Submission of the adoption Decree to the National Archives for the "Attestation on Adoption Decree
14. Legalization parquet
15. Legalization Ministry of Justice
16. Legalization Ministry of foreign Affairs

17. Translation

It will be very challenging for any adoptive parent to complete these steps independently.  Independently adopting families might want to consider seeking professional assistance.

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