Saturday, November 14, 2009

U.S. CONSULATE ADOPTION CONFERENCE

Last week, the U.S. Consulate held its second adoption related conference to which the Canadian, French respective Consulates, Haitian authorities and Creche directors were invited.

I was asked to be on the "panel of experts" alongside with the main Port-au-Prince judge (for adoptions), the IBESR director, adoption advocate and one other adoption processor/worker. The presentation that we were asked to give was:

(1) To describe the work we do now in adoptions
(2) How our work would change if the Hague Convention was implemented in Haiti
(3) What, in our opinion, would have to be in place or challenges we see in trying to get Haiti ready for Hague

Everybody recognized that Haiti is not ready to sign on to the Hague Convention and that a ton of work has to be done in order for that to happen. Everybody also agreed that if Haiti would sign on to Hague prematurely, adoptions would completely grind to a stop and it would spell disaster for the orphaned and abandoned children of Haiti.

One of the other things that was discussed was the currently proposed adoption law that is in front of the Haitian parliament currently. The main issue/problem that I have with the law is that orphanages would no longer be matching adoptable children with prospective adoptive parents.

Under the new law, IBESR would receive all prospective adoptive parents' dossier and would "review the file" for suitability for a match with an adoptable child. Then, IBESR would match that family with a child from their list of children.

Sounds good in theory, but in all practicality --- Haitian adoptions would be just like adoptions in the Dominican Republic or El Salvador where similar systems are in place. Referrals would trickle through, kids would linger in orphanages because they would not be referred and the referring workers would only refer to their "favorite" orphanages (or at least that is my concern). 

In my opinion, for what it is worth, because there is no efficient bureaucracy in place, this kind of system would spell disaster to adoption referrals in Haiti.  As a result, smaller orphanages would end up shutting down because of lack of referrals and it would overwhelm others to where these orphanages could not accept new children who need a home because others are waiting, waiting, waiting to be referred.

As a result, only the large, well funded orphanages would survive. Smaller orphanages, like the ones that only have 15-30 children would end up having to shut down because one of the ways the smaller orphanages can survive financially is through the support fees that come from adoptions. With the current decline in the worldwide economy, general donations have seriously declined and it is already difficult for existing orphanages to financially function. 

This kind of proposed system of referral would only work if, and only if, orphanages received state funding to cover their operating costs. It seems that nobody, the writers of the proposed legislations (strongly sponsored by UNICEF) and the supporters of this legislation have NOT thought about the need for state funding of the orphanages if the legislation was to pass.

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