What Happens After We Receive a Referral from Haiti?


Receiving a referral is no doubt one of the most anticipated milestones during the adoption process! For families adopting from Haiti we have provided a snapshot of what happens once you are matched with a child.

referral from HaitiIdentifying and Referring the Children – In Haiti, the Central Authority in the country, Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR), is responsible for identifying a child in need of a family and arranging for the child’s adoption. Once IBESR has determined that there is a child who meets the characteristics that you are seeking and the adoption would be in the child’s best interest, they will contact our in-country team to let them know about the potential match. The time frame to receive a referral varies considerably from family to family because it depends on the characteristics of children in need of adoption at any given time, and the characteristics in children that other families are open to. Typically, it takes families in our program 12-24 months to receive a referral from Haiti. Families looking for a child as young as possible with no known additional needs will likely have a longer wait than families open to adopting a child with special needs.

Performing the Background Study on the Child: Once a family receives a referral from Haiti, the adoptive parents are provided with information regarding the child, such as name, age and the circumstances that led to the child residing at the crèche. This Background Study is prepared by IBESR in conjunction with its designated social services professionals, medical professionals and mental health professionals. The child’s birth certificate is provided, showing birth parent information, if it is available. A medical report, psychological evaluation and social report of the child are obtained and provided at referral time.

Traveling to Meet the Child- Trip One: You will be traveling to Haiti for the socialization period, where you will be united with the child and visited by a social worker during this time. Your stay in-country should be approximately two weeks. MLJ Adoptions will assist you while you are in country. Families receive a travel guide in advance of your trip, and will have a travel consultation with their program director prior to travel.

Immigration Processing: After the socialization period and IBESR approval to adopt your referred child, the next step is to file the I-800 (“Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative”). The approval of your I-800 typically takes 6-8 weeks, and then an Article 5 letter is issued.  The Article 5 letter is issued by the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince after receipt of your provisionally approved I-800. The Article 5 letter informs IBESR that the U.S. has determined the family is eligible and suited to adopt, that the referred child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Legal Adoption Process: The legal process in Haiti doesn’t begin until the I800 provisional approval is received, and an Article 5 letter is issued. Then, MLJ’s foreign service provider prepares the file (petition to adopt, parent’s dossier, child’s dossier and IBESR approval) to be filed with the Haitian court. The in-country attorney appears in Court and represents families through a Power of Attorney. The Court, at its discretion will issue the adoption decree.

Complete Immigration and Travel HomeFinal Trip: When families travel for they second trip, they are the legal parents of their child or children! They will be with their adopted child the entire time. Our in-country team will take families to all necessary appointments, including appointments for medicals, passports, and the embassy interview to obtain the child’s visa to immigrate to the United States! Families can expect to be in the country for 5-10 days, and then will travel home with their child.

While the process to bring a child home from Haiti can be long, it’s worth it! Two children have joined their forever families from Haiti and five others have been officially matched with families. Each of these children face a better future because of the love and care they will receive in their adoptive families.

referral from Haiti

Jen Gavin is the Associate Program Director for Africa and the Pacific Isles. Jen graduated from Anderson University, with a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership. She sees working in adoption services as a calling, which she became acutely aware of through a personal passion assessment at her church.