Some families seeking to adopt from Haiti enter the international adoption process hoping to adopt a child born to a relative. We call these adoptions, relative adoptions. This can be for a variety of reasons, including the death of a loved one in Haiti or the natural parents decide they cannot provide for the child due to illness or poverty. In all these scenarios a vulnerable child is in need of a loving family. A family member residing in the U.S. may opt to assume the parenting responsibility. Those seeking to adopt a child considered a relative are surprised to learn that relative adoptions from Haiti are processed the same as any other type of adoption where the adoptive parents are unrelated to the child.
Because Haiti is signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention, the adoption process must follow a path both in Haiti and in the United States involving approvals from both countries regardless of the fact that the adoption is considered a relative adoption. If this process is not followed, the child will not receive visa approval to be brought to the U.S.
What types of approvals are needed on the Haitian side? Haiti’s adoption authority, Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR), must approve the match of the child to the adoptive parents, meaning IBESR must approve the adoption of the child, regardless of the fact that the adoptive parent is a relative. This is done through submitting a child dossier and a parent dossier. The parents’ dossier is submitted by the agency’s representative in Haiti. IBESR must approve the adoption, and issue a formal match letter. Parents who are seeking to complete a relative from Haiti must understand that there are no guarantees that IBESR will approve the match of the child to the parents, but in our experience, IBESR has deemed the match to the relative to be in the child’s best interest. If the child’s birth parents are still living, they will also play a role in the process. Birth parents must attend birth parent education to ensure they understand the legal implications of the adoption. Once this education is complete, birth parents then consent to the adoption in Court. This consent to the adoption becomes part of the child’s dossier.
After a family receives and accepts the match of the child, adoptive parents are required to travel to Haiti and complete a mandatory 2-week socialization period. During this socialization period adoptive parents spend bonding time with the child and are visited and interviewed by a social worker who then will write a report recommending if the adoption should move forward.
Often, relative adoptions from Haiti are expedited because the prospective adoptive parents can be matched time frames shorter than the usual 18-36 months. However, since the same legal process must occur, not all parts of the process are shorter.
What types of approvals are needed on the US side? After socialization, families completing relative adoptions from Haiti must obtain U.S. approval through the I-800 Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative and an Article 5 letter to proceed with the legal adoption process. Once both are received and delivered to IBESR, IBESR approves the matter to proceed to Court and the legal adoption order can then be issued.
It is essential that adoptive families complete all the above steps must be completed in the exact order, for the child to be approved for a U.S. visa. A Hague Accredited Adoption Agency, approved to work in Haiti, like MLJ Adoptions, will be able to assist you! If any part of the process is completed prematurely or adoptive parents have obtained guardianship, obtained legal custody or an adoption order, without receiving the required prior above approvals, it is likely that the child’s visa will be denied, and this will necessitate reversing all or part of the adoption process you have already completed in Haiti.
If you are interested in learning more about relative adoptions from Haiti or you have started a Haitian adoption without a primary provider or have completed all or part of the process out of order, please contact MLJ Adoptions! We can complete a free case evaluation and telephone consultation. MLJ can assist relatives to navigate the complicated and frustrating process to adopt a child relative from Haiti.
Photo Credit: Feed My Starving Children