Friday, July 4, 2008

What to look for...adoption decision process...

What to look for when selecting an adoption agency/organization in Haiti (or any other non-Hague country): This selection process discussion also pertains to non-U.S. families, but this discussion is very specific to U.S. families wanting to adopt from Haiti.

Decide whether you want to adopt independently or through the assistance of an adoption agency in your home country.

If you decide to go the independent route and you are a U.S. family, please realize that the U.S. State Department is the central adoption authority in the U.S. and the U.S. State Department is also the entity through which the Foreign Services Officers are employed. It is the Foreign Services Officers who approve or deny adopted children’s visas. Currently, the U.S. State Department is scrutinizing all Haiti adoptions from the standpoint that “all are fraud”, then they work their way backwards, so to speak. As an independent adopter, you do not have the support of a recognized U.S. adoption agency and if there is a problem at the end, during the visa issuance stage, you are “on your own”. Currently, independent adoptions are still permitted. It is my understanding that this will be allowed until the year 2010.

If you choose the independent route, ensure that you speak with other adoptive families who already have their children home. You will find that many families speak nicely of their orphanage while they are in process of their adoption, but in my opinion, that is not a reference to seek. When you speak to families who already have their children home, make sure to do this privately and not on a public forum. On a public forum (i.e. a yahoo group) you may not get honest feedback since anybody can be on the group reading the messages, including the orphanage’s staff.

If you choose the independent route, make sure that you can visit the orphanage to observe how the children are cared for, to observe the working of the people who process the adoptions, etc. A trip to the orphanage should not be to select your child, but it should be to ensure that this is an organization that you would want to work with in terms of your adoption. Anybody can have a beautiful website that looks impressive, but you need to find out through your own investigation whether this organization is ethical, works hard on the adoptions, treats the children well, etc.

If you choose the independent route, you will have to be ‘hands-on’ with your adoption and this suits some families more than others. For example, you have to compile your own dossier and work with USCIS, etc. without much assistance. However, there are groups of previous adopters who are very helpful in answering questions and guiding you through the process. Additionally, some orphanages are more supportive in helping families through the dossier paperwork jungle than others.

Whether you chose the independent or agency route, find out if you can visit with your child during the adoption process.

This is important for several reasons, obviously for bonding purposes, but also if you and your husband (or the single adoptive mother) visits the child in person during the adoption process, the child will enter the U.S. on an IR3 visa which upon entry to the U.S. makes the child an automatic U.S. citizen.

If you do not visit during the adoption process, then the child enters on a “non-final adoption” (definition of the U.S. State Department, even though the Haitian adoption decree states that it is a final adoption) and the child will enter the U.S. on an IR4 visa which is a “resident alien” visa. Families have to go through the readoption process in the U.S. and then have to submit an N-600 form with $470 to USCIS to obtain the child’s U.S. citizenship paper.

If you choose the agency route, some of the same research has to be done. The U.S. became a Hague Convention Country in 2008. You do not have to use a Hague accredited adoption agency to pursue an adoption in Haiti since it is not a Hague country. But, why would you not want to use a Hague accredited agency? After all, a Hague accredited agency has passed “muster” with the U.S. State Department and under Hague Convention standards. Hague accredited agencies are held to a higher standard.

In defense of some adoption agencies were not able to obtain Hague accreditation, they were not able to do so because part of the Hague accreditation process is to obtain an insurance bond/policy that some agencies were not able to afford. However, other agencies did not pursue the accreditation process or were denied accreditation for other varied reasons.

When you choose an agency, you need to find out how often they visit the Haitian orphanage in person. Does the adoption agency mostly have contact via telephone and email or does the agency personnel frequently spend time in-country. How familiar is the agency personnel with the process in Haiti? What level of supervision and accountability exists between the adoption agency and the orphanage? Does the agency personnel work in Haiti processing adoptions working alongside the Haitian orphanage personnel?

Also ask for the orphanage name. Find out if the orphanage they work with exclusively work with the adoption agency or is it an orphanage that contracts with multiple adoption agencies.

Find out what support services the agency uses for its families. For example, during the dossier compilation stage, how much does the agency assist? Is there one consistent contact person who will assist you?

Find out if you can visit the orphanage and what the policy is to spend time with your child. (see above regarding IR3 and IR4 visas)

Ask to speak to families who have their children home already.

Also, find out what the agency’s grievance policy is.

Your job as a prospective adoptive parent is to do your homework prior to selecting which adoption route to go. Research, research, research…

Often families select an agency or an orphanage based on speed of response back to their inquiries. That is not a good sole indicator. However, many families use that as the main indicator of selecting the agency or orphanage. Though responsiveness to inquiries is important, but look at the real indicators discussed above.


AdoptAuthor said...

Every child's first right is to remain within his family of origins. If his parents are not capable of providing for him then extended family.

The UN says that adoption should always be the LAST option for a child.

Encouraging the adoption of children of children from countries who have not ratified the Hague is encouraging kidnapping and supporting human trafficking! And you do this in the name of God!?

What an outrage!

When the bible speaks of caring for widows ans orphans - it was written in a time when the word "widow" meant any woman without a spouse. That applies to single mothers. Do you think Jesus would advocate taking children from their mothrs thousands of miles from their culture to fill the demands of adults who financially support unscrupulous baby brokers?

I do not!

Especially not when there are half a million in foster care right her eint he US. Of those, more than 100,000 can not be reunited with family and could benefit from a loving, caring family.

Adoption is not about BUYING babies to meet adult needs it is about caring for orphans and CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME! said...

Your response is full of ignorance (sorry to say that), but it makes me wonder if you have ever set foot into a country like Haiti?

Yes, I agree with you fully, a child should be cared for by extended family, within country and adoption should be the last resort.

HOWEVER, in countries like Haiti the extended family cannot and will not take care of the child. Also, there are very very few families who will adopt or foster a child within country.

In places like Haiti and also in African countries, children are taken into homes in-country as foster children and end up as household slaves. In Haiti, that is called "restavec".

So as a result children linger in orphanages with no or little education and not much of a future because most orphanages release kids at age 16 onto the streets.

I would love for you to come to Haiti with me so that I can show you reality.

Babies are thrown away by desparate women. I have found a half-dead baby in the gutter under a pile of trash before...or how about the baby who was thrown into the human waste of an outhouse to drown in shit. Babies are NOT stolen from their mothers.

The real problem lies with the economic and political system of these countries because there should be systems in place to help those families and mothers keep their children. Guess what?! I had a meeting with UNICEF in Haiti where I begged the head guy to help out the women and children in the remote region of Cerca Carvajal. Hundreds of children die there every year from simple illnesses and of malnurishment.

Guess what he told me?! -- Sorry, we do not even have enough money to help out sufficiently in the city area of PAP, there is no way we can go and help out in the remote areas of Haiti.

So, you are speaking from a purely theory standpoint without knowing the reality on the ground.

Please consider this your personal invitation. You can email me at so we can set up the trip. said...

I forgot to address the foster care comment...I was a foster parent and tried to adopt the children...BUT...they kept the parents' rights intact though the father had sexually abused the kids and the mother was/is a heroin addict. In the U.S. foster system, the focus is on parental rights and not the rights of the children.

After three years of fostering the children and moving ahead with the adoption, the appeals court reversed the decision to terminat the parental rights on a technicality. Guess, what! The children are still foster children and are not my adoptive children.

Or how about my friend in Los Angeles...she had a baby from foster care, cared for the child from birth until three years of age. She tried to adopt the child BUT the court system decided to give the child back to the birth mother.

Four months later, the birth mother KILLED the child!

That is the reality of the U.S. Foster System. It needs fundamental changes to fix the system, but that won't happen because of the Constituational Parental Rights the birth parents have.

So, I encourage you to have a reality check and speak to parents who have tried to adopt from the foster system. I have tried. My friend in Los Angeles tried...and both of us are international adoptees. said...

I more thing: Most of the children who are adopted from Haiti are NOT babies. They are at least four years old or older...

Tim & Sarah said...

Can I chime in and say that I don't know of anyone who is taking a child away, with out the birth mothers consent!

We too inquired to adopt foster children, but were told we needed to look like these children, and therefor, they would wait to see who else came along, that was 4 1/2years ago, and these boys are still in foster care.

I seriously considered posting this anonymously, but no, I wouldn't want to be called a coward. Please before you start slamming all us adoptive parents for do what we feel led to do, rather adopt country side, or abroad, ask yourself, what you are doing to help with the horrible situations? Do you save one person? If so then great.

Not everyone can change an entire village, or country, but everyone can impact one life!

Anonymous said...

This could be a post in and of itself and one that most people struggle with when researching adoption. Thanks to all of you for bring these "issues" to the fore-front.