The Haitian Adoption Process

Overview
Haitian adoptions are highly complex and challenging to complete. As of 2013, all adoptive families must be represented by an adoption agency in their country of citizenship that has been approved and licensed by IBESR (Haitian social services). All adoptees must be in the care of a crèche licensed by IBESR to perform adoptions, and to have been declared legally adoptable by IBESR.  ‘Independent’ adoptions, in which a family works directly with a crèche or orphanage, are prohibited in all cases.  Pre-identified adoptions, in which a Haitian family relinquishes their child for adoption with the intention that the child will be adopted by another (non-related) family are prohibited.  Adoptive families may not request the match of a specific (non-related) child.
In January of 2013, IBESR (Haitian Social Services) implemented new adoption policies and in November of 2013 a new adoption law was implemented.  Haiti became a full party to the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption on April 1st, 2014.

IBESR Determination of a Child's Adoptibility
IBESR officials will meet with each biological family considering making an adoption plan for their child.  A multi-disciplinary task force will work with the family to learn about their social history and current issues.  Every effort is made to preserve the family unit intact.  If, despite the education and counseling the biological family receives, they remain determined to place the child for adoption, and IBESR concurs that an adoption plan is in the child's best interest, a one month waiting period ensues.  Only after a full month can full consent for adoption be granted.  After a second interview with the biological family, IBESR may choose to issue a request to the Children's Court to issue a Proces Verbal terminating parental rights and authorizing the child to be adopted.

In the case of children who are found abandoned, the child will remain in institutional care for six months in the hopes that biological family can be found or will come forward.  If no family can be found, IBESR may choose to grant the crèche permission to present the child for referral for adoption.  In such cases, the Mayor of the zone in which the child was born must appear in Children's Court to sign the Proces Verbal for his eligibility for adoption.
 
The Child’s Dossier
Crèches must provide IBESR with the following documents for each child before a referral for the child can be issued:
  1. Passport pictures of the child
  2. Birth Certificate
  3. Attestation of signature on Birth Certificate or extract from the National Archives
  4. Legal relinquishment of custody from the biological family to the orphanage from Children's Court
  5. Death certificates and extracts from the archives of biological parent(s) if applicable
  6. Marriage certificate of biological parents and extract, if applicable
  7. Psychological evaluation
  8. Medical evaluation
  9. Laboratory tests
  10. Social history
 
Adoptive Family Dossier Submission
Only the designated representative of an IBESR licensed foreign adoption agency may present the dossier of a prospective adoptive family to IBESR.
 
Agencies may include a letter requesting that the family be considered for the adoption of a child or children with special needs.
 
Referral of a Child
Non-special needs referrals: For adoptive family dossiers submitted to IBESR following October 14th, 2014, IBESR has decreed that referrals will be made by an IBESR committee.  Referrals can come from any licensed crèche.  Families and agencies may not request a particular crèche or child.  At this time IBESR states that the director of a child's crèche may be present when the committee matches a child in her care.

Special needs referrals: Children who meet the Haitian legal definition of having special needs may qualify for an alternate referral process.  Special needs approved agencies may submit a letter with a family's completed dossier requesting that the family be considered for a special needs referral.  IBESR will eventually have a database of waiting children available to approved agencies.  Agencies may be able to recommend their pre-approved families for listed children.

Once IBESR issues a referral, the representative of the family's adoption agency is summoned to IBESR to collect an official letter and a copy of the child's dossier (see above).  The adoptive parents have fifteen days to respond to IBESR to declare whether or not they wish to accept the referral.

Socialization Period
According to the new adoption law of 2013; "Once the express approval of the adoptive parents has been received, the Haiti Central Authority authorizes a socialization period between the adoptive parents and the child. This socialization period is mandatory; it can be less than 2 weeks, for domestic or for international adoption." (Article 52)

IBESR has mandated a socialization period of fifteen days.  Both adoptive parents must attend and visit the child in the creche every day.  A social worker will observe the family and write her conclusions.

"The Central Authority, within the 10 days after the socialization period, delivers or rejects authorization for the adoption based upon an evaluation rapport." (Article 53) 
 
Lower Courts
In many districts, the biological parents are still being asked to appear in Tribunal Court and before the Dean for consents to adoption.  Adoptive parents are no longer required to appear.

Parquet Court
The 'step' we refer to as Parquet court is actually a very complex series of steps and processes involving multiple offices and repeated trips between them.
  1. Attorney addresses a Request for Judgment to the Chief Justice of Parquet Court
  2. Birth parents are interviewed in Parquet Court (depending upon the district)
  3. Parquet Court signs off on "approval judgement for adoption"
  4. Facilitator takes approval to DGI for stamp of authorization
  5. Back to Parquet for enforcement of the approval judgement
  6. Authorization and redaction from the Civil Registrar Officer for legal Adoption Decree
  7. Verification in Parquet of the adoption documents by the Civil Registrar before signing the adoption decree
  8. First Legalization of the Adoption Decree, in Parquet Court
  9. Second Legalization of the Adoption Decree, at the Ministry of Justice
  10. Third Legalization of the Adoption Decree, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  11. Obtain attestation of Adoption Decree from the National Archives
Ministry of the Interior
All international adoption cases are reviewed by the Ministry of Interior. In order to obtain authorization to request a passport, the following documents must be submitted for each child:
  1. Four passport sized pictures
  2. Birth Certificate
  3. Attestation for the Birth Certificate
  4. Extract from the National Archives for the Birth Certificate
  5. Relinquishment
  6. Proces Verbal of adoption
  7. Adoption approval judgement
  8. Adoption Decree
  9. Attestation of the Adoption Decree
  10. Power of Attorney for creche director and/or attorney
  11. Stamp from DGI
  12. Notary letter for the passport
  13. Identification card of facilitator and/or attorney on the case
  14. Biological parents' identification cards
  15. Adoptive parents' MOI form, identification, and passport photos
The Ministry of Interior will grant authorization to submit the dossier to Haitian Immigrations for a passport.

Haitian Immigrations
The facilitator will submit authorization to apply for a passport to Haitian Immigrations. This is generally a quick process - one to two weeks, if all equipment is working properly.
 
US Immigrations
Note to international readers - US Immigrations performs the most rigorous investigation of international adoptions. Other nations' Immigrations process are different. Please check with your agency to learn about the process for your home country.)

Haiti became a Hague nation on April 1st, 2014.  Families who filed form I600a prior to that date will use form I600 to apply for their child to immigrate to the United States.  Those who filed form I800a on or after April 1st, 2014 will use the I800 process instead.
 
I600 process:
Parts of the I600 process can occur concurrently with the Haitian process, however USCIS cannot sign off on the case until they have verified the final Adoption Decree and the child's passport. DNA may be requested at any time.

American families are advised to work closely with their agencies to ensure a smooth and efficient US Immigrations process for their child.

Approximately three to four weeks following completion of all USCIS investigations and adjudication of the I600 for the child, the case will be forwarded to the Department of State for issuance of a Visa. The Department of State also has the right to request DNA testing for birth parent and child. Adoptive parents need not be present for the Visa appointment.
Parents who can prove that they visited their child prior to the issuance of the Adoption Decree by Parquet Court will be issued an IR-3 Visa. Their children will be automatically granted full US Citizenship upon arrival in the US.

I800 process:
Families will file form I800 by mail following their official referral from IBESR.  Families should not obtain an adoption decree for their child until USCIS has issued a Provisional Approval stating that the child appears to meet the US legal definition of an orphan, and may be qualified immigrate to the US on an IH3 or IH4 orphan Visa.

The child's completed dossier will be submitted to the DOS Adoptions Unit in Port-au-Prince, where the trained adoptions officer will verify the authenticity and correctness of the complete dossier.  Following adjudication, a Visa will be issued.
 
Post Placement Supervision
According to Article 61 of the new adoption law, "The Central Authority must provide, for each domestic or international adoption, post-placement supervision through reports submitted on a regular basis by the adoptive parents, under the responsibility of the adoption agency that assisted them with the adoption

process in order to enable the follow up of the development and integration of the child in his adoptive family and environment, during an 8 year period."
 IBESR's current policies require the following reports to be filed:
  • six month report
  • twelve month report
  • eighteen month report
  • twenty-four month report
  • thirty-six month report
  • forty-eight month report
  • sixty month report

Each report must include the following:
  • A post-placement report written by a social worker.  The report must specifically address the child’s psychological health
  • A psychologist's report
  • A copy of your child’s report card (home school families may write a brief summary of the child’s academic progress)
  • A medical report, such as a letter from your doctor, attesting to the child’s basic health status
  • Two recent photographs of your child
Failure to comply fully with all post-placement requirements could have disastrous effect on Haitian adoptions, with lesser consequences potentially including the agency that assisted the non-compliant family having their license revoked, and worse possible consequences being the closure of Haitian adoptions.  Each family's full cooperation is vital to protect the rights of future orphaned and abandoned Haitian children to grow up in a permanent family.