Monday, October 19, 2015


This morning Margarette and I deposited three dossiers with USCIS.  They’re not allowed to tell us a darn thing about all their meetings, but they can tell us if they can accept the particular dossiers we hand them.  And they can – all three of them.  Two have plenary consents (well, one has a consent to simple OR a plenary adoption, but we submit that one with a letter explaining what the word “or” means) and adoption judgments that refer to that plenary consent but don’t say the word plenary in their own text.  One has a passport and all of her adoption decrees written to include her Haitian last name as her new middle name.  And USCIS accepts them all with a huge smile.  This particular worker is just as thrilled as I am with the way everything worked out.  She is a Haitian attorney and was no doubt cringing the whole time this devastating tempest in a teapot was going on.

We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to the crèche directors and facilitators who ran themselves into the ground insisting that the judges, deans, and IBESR communicated before the delegation ever arrived.  It was only through their labors that IBESR was able to present USCIS with a concrete answer to their questions regarding simple vs plenary adoptions.  But for them, dozens of children would have languished in orphanages for many, many months longer.

All is well with the world.

What it all means: simple adoption vs. plenary

We can expect an official release of information from USCIS and DOS around the end of this week.  But in the meantime, here is the information ABI has gathered.  Please note that this information is being provided free of charge as a charitable service.  It does not constitute legal advice or recommendations in either country and should not be construed as such.

  • Your child’s relinquishment was issued in Children’s Court and is explicitly plenary AND
  • Your adoption judgment refers to that plenary relinquishment AND
  • Your certificate of adoption refers to that adoption judgment

  • Your adoption is plenary (regardless of what your child is named).

Check with your agency to confirm that all is as described above.

If your adoption is based upon a relinquishment issued in Tribunal court before a Justice of the Peace, prior to the new law, even though that relinquishment was the correct legal form at the time, you will need to convert your adoption from simple to plenary. 

This is a complex process and it is not recommended that US Citizens attempt to do the legal work in Haiti themselves.  Your odds of producing correct documents are not good.  I wouldn’t try to do it myself, and I’ve been working here for twelve years and know the language.  It’s a job for a professional-someone who can document having successfully processed 50+ successful adoptions to the US.  ABI offers reasonably priced consulting services for conversions, and I imagine some of the other highly experienced agencies will as well.  If you have a legally issued adoption passport, then you should not have to get another.  

We’ll pray that each of you can free your children quickly.  They have waited long enough.

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