Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere according to the World Bank, is home to more than tens of thousands of children living in orphanages, waiting to be adopted. Adopting a child from Haiti is a long process — but it is still possible — requiring a mountain of paperwork and a lot of jumping through hoops. All of the effort will be worth it, however, once your adoptive child is home with his new family.
The best way to begin the adoption process from Haiti is to find a licensed domestic agency approved by the Better Business Bureau to help guide you through the arduous steps. An agency that specializes in adoptions from Haiti is best. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office must first grant you eligibility. This involves submitting an application and fee, a home study and other documents. Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 35 years old, or have been married more than 10 years. Families with children can adopt, although it can take longer to get approval from Haiti. In addition to paying various legal fees, be prepared to travel to Haiti at least once or twice during your adoption.
Getting Matched With a Child
Your adoption agency will help match you with a Haitian child according to how well you can meet her needs and provide a home for her. The paperwork really begins to flow then, including legal proceedings, death certificates of the child’s biological parents along with medical and psychological evaluations — all translated into French. Don’t decorate that nursery just yet — adopted Haitian children are at least one year old when they come home, and are more often toddlers or elementary school age.
Adoptive parents must consent to the adoption in person before a Haitian Justice of the Peace and the Dean of Civil Courts prior to finalization of the process. You can accomplish both in one visit if you are lucky and can schedule the meetings close together. Waiting afterwards for the approval from the Haitian adoption authority, the Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches, can be the longest part of the entire process. Its approval is then presented to the Tribunal Civil to finalize the adoption.
Since your adopted child is not yet a citizen of the United States, you must apply for a Haitian passport bearing his adoptive name, which can take a few extra months, as well as an immigrant visa from the U.S. Embassy. He will also need to have a medical exam and may have to be brought up to date on vaccinations required in the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office must grant eligibility to your child to be adopted legally in the United States. Upon arrival, a U.S. state court can issue the final adoption decree, making the child an American citizen.