Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Happenings at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti...
Currently, approximately 50 children are waiting for their visa appointments in the U.S. Embassy in Haiti. Some have waited as long as five months now for their visa appointments. Adoptive parents are frustrated and anxious to get their adopted children's visas. Unfortunately, in addition of waiting for such a long time, there has been a certain level of unprofessional treatment that families and adoption professionals have received by embassy personnel. This makes it even more difficult in light of the long wait.
Currently, every adoption is scrutinized and the embassy personnel starts examining adoption files with the assumption that all documents are fraudulent and that the adoptions in Haiti are illegal. Working backward from that assumption, basically adoption professionals have to prove the opposite in an unfriendly environment.
Additionally, embassy personnel searches the internet, including blogs and yahoo discussion groups in an attempt to find damaging information regarding adoption professionals, orphanages, etc.
"Witch Hunt" is the term that has been repeatedly used to describe the current visa process.
Today, I read the following article on www.cnn.com regarding adoptions in Guatemala and Vietnam.
Please read the article because then it will make more sense to you what is happening in Haiti right now. The visa personnel is basically trying to prove that the same irregularities as in Vietnam are happening in Haiti, with the goal to shut down U.S. adoptions in Haiti.
Here is the specific portion of the Vietnam adoptions discussed that apply to Haiti.
'Serious irregularities' in Vietnam
Similar concerns of corruption recently emerged in Vietnam, where investigators had found "serious adoption irregularities," according to a report by the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi.
Documents had been forged or altered, the embassy said, and some parents were paid, tricked or forced into giving up their children for adoption. In some cases, the embassy said, children were offered for adoption without the knowledge or permission of their parents.
The Vietnamese government has denied the accusations.
Even so, it said in April that it would terminate its adoption agreement with the United States, saying it won't accept applications after July 1. The program is scheduled to end September 1.
Parents in the United States who were matched with an adoptive child in Vietnam before July 1 will be allowed to adopt that child. Prospective parents who had invested time and money, but had not been matched with an adoptive child, appear to be out of luck.
Private adoption agencies insist that nearly all adoptions from Vietnam are problem-free, and they want the adoptions to continue.
"It's hard to let go, because we know we can advocate for these children and make a real difference," said Linda Brownlee, executive director of the nonprofit Adoption Center of Washington, which places children for adoption from Russia, China, Cambodia and Vietnam.
She hopes the United States and Vietnam reach an agreement so that adoptions can continue.
"Without it, I think children are going to be harmed. They are going to die needlessly, and there is going to be trafficking," Brownlee said.
If the U.S. government follows the same path in Haiti as they are doing in Vietnam, then children will die needlessly in Haiti as well. Also, child trafficking for domestic slavery and sexual exploitation will even become worse.