April 4, 2011
On March 2, 2011 Haiti signed the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. The Hague Convention is an international agreement between participating countries with the goals of protecting the best interests of children in intercountry adoption, and preventing the exploitation and trafficking of children.
By signing the treaty, Haiti is showing its intent to reform its international adoption scheme to comply with the goals of the Hague Convention. Haiti is currently discussing potential changes in their laws. They have discussed requiring that all adoptions go through a centralized authority (IBESER) and providing criteria for informed consents for terminating parental rights. However, signing the treaty does not mean that Haiti is a Hague Country. It took the US approximately fourteen (14) years to become a Hague Country after signing the Hague Convention.
Whether Haiti should attempt to implement the regulations that would be necessary to become Hague compliant has been a question of some debate. The general purpose of the Hague Convention is to safeguard the best interests of children. This is of course a noble interest and one of utmost importance in international adoption. But, requiring an impoverished sending country to become Hague is not the only way, and may not be the best way, to protect our world’s children.
Following the January 12, 2010 earthquake in Haiti, thousands of children were displaced, separated from their loved ones. Haiti’s people, along with humanitarian aid organizations, have attempted to reunite these families and have succeeded in many cases. While displaced children remain a problem, it is important to also focus on Haiti’s true orphans that were abandoned prior to and after the earthquake. They are still in need of loving and permanent homes.
On one hand, it may be that Haiti should become a Hague Country as a method of insuring, to the extent possible, that the best interests of the displaced children are protected. It appears that Haiti should try to become Hague in an effort to safeguard the children who may not be true orphans from being adopted internationally, permanently separating them from family members.
On the other hand, if Haiti decided to become Hague, the Country would almost certainly close to adoption, at least temporarily, in order to implement the required procedures. Such a closure would cause those that are true orphans to remain in institutions while the government attempts to implement regulations. It took the US fourteen (14) years to implement Hague with all the resources that we have at our disposal; to expect Haiti to implement Hague in a timely manner, after this disaster, seems to go against the Convention’s goal of completing adoptions in the best interest of children. During the process of implementing Hague the country would likely close and children would wait, as they have and continue to wait in Guatemala. While the children wait, they not only spend more time in an institution, but also grow older and consequentially less likely to be adopted.
It may be that the US and other receiving countries should not put the onus on Haiti to become a Hague country, but rather take it upon themselves as Hague Countries and as Hague Approved and Accredited Agencies to conduct thorough investigations to determine whether children are properly abandoned upholding the goals of the Hague Convention.
MLJ Adoptions, Inc. is a Hague Approved agency and therefore follows Hague guidelines with all international adoptions, whether the country is a party to the Hague Convention or not.