Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti and Adoption

At MomLogic, adoptive mom Sarah talks about the earthquake in Haiti, and her 4-year-old whose adoption has been finalized, but is still there because of visa problems:
When I heard about the earthquake, it almost felt unreal. It still does.

My son is there. He's 4 years old.

I have adopted two children from Haiti, and am currently hosting a baby ("Bear") from there. He has been with us over a year while he gets surgeries for spina bifida. My daughter, Angeline, also from Haiti, also has spina bifida. My son Isaac, due to years and years of glitches in paperwork, is still in Haiti. My heart breaks knowing he's there, and I can't get to him, especially in this devastation. I have heard from
his orphanage that he is okay, thank God, but my heart breaks for him. I just want to go get him NOW.
At her blog, Mom to 14 (yes, you read that right -- she has 14 kids at age 36 -- 5 bio, 6 adopted from foster care, 2 adopted from Haiti, and one hosted from Haiti), she writes:
In the adoption world the word is that there will be a meeting tomorrow [Friday] at 10am EST by the department of state who will talk about adoptions in Haiti and those US citizens with children waiting for Visa's or passports. Children who have been waiting years. They said it could take weeks to come to a decision on how to handle things.
The only thing I could find on the State Department website about Haiti and adoption is this timely reminder that adopting children affected by natural disasters and conflict is not the best way to help:

The Department of State receives inquiries from American citizens concerned about the plight of children in areas of conflict and in countries afflicted by natural disasters such as the January 12 earthquake in Haiti, hurricanes, and tsunamis. Our office shares this concern for children in devastated areas and we understand that some Americans want to respond by offering to open their homes and adopt these children in need.

It can be extremely difficult in such circumstances to determine whether children who appear to be orphans truly are eligible for adoption. Children may be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members during a natural disaster or conflict, and their parents may be looking for them. It is not uncommon in an emergency or unsettled situation for parents to send their children out of the area, or for families to become separated during an evacuation. Even when it can be demonstrated that children have indeed lost their parents or have been abandoned, they are often taken in by other relatives in the extended family.

During times of crisis, it can also be exceptionally difficult to fulfill the legal requirements for adoption of both the U.S. and the child's country of origin. This is
especially true when civil authority breaks down or temporarily ceases to function. It can also be difficult to gather documents necessary to fulfill the legal requirements of U.S. immigration law. There are many ways in which U.S. citizens can help the children in areas of natural disaster or conflict. For example, individuals who wish to assist can make a financial contribution to a reputable relief or humanitarian organization working in that country.
I've posted before on the topic of adopting children affected by natural disaster, that adoption experts say it's wrong to take a traumatized child away from the only environment he or she knows in the wake of tragedy. I think the State Department is right to remind those looking at the tragic pictures on the news that they should be looking at other ways to help.

But that does not help those, like Sarah, who are already in the process of adopting from Haiti. I can only imagine how I would be feeling in their shoes. The closest I can come is the uncertainty I felt about what would happen to Zoe's adoption after 9/11 -- I received her referral in August, and didn't take a full breathe until I held her in October. And I didn't have to worry about whether she was alive, healthy, safe. . . .

My heart goes out to the people of Haiti, and to all those outside of Haiti who are worried about loved ones there.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here is a relief fund for an orphanage in Haiti affected by the earthquake. Apparently the orphans are okay, but they are in need of shelter, etc. This fund is through CCAI, the adoption agency I used when I adopted my children.

Sue (aka anonymous)