We had a really nice meeting with IBESR yesterday at the Les Palmes Centre in Petion-Ville. The meeting was sponsored by IBESR and the group HPP-AKSE, which is a humanitarian organization involved in the Healthy Policy and protection of children and women. The groups attending were a very mixed group of a few creches, mayors’ office staff, court staff, embassy staff and groups working with children in the community. I met a lot of pastors and workers who are in the community working with street children and abandoned children. There were only about 40 to 50 people were attended which made kind of nice because we were able to ask more individualized questions and receive the answers!
Much of the same information I have received in other meetings was shared in this meeting. But over the months/years that Haiti has been working on a new adoption law and program, it is nice to see how it all has evolved and is still evolving as they come to understand what is required by the Hague Convention and the new law.
I embrace most of the changed even if they do make things difficult at times. I think they are a step forward in the adoption process here. Biological parents through the creches and through IBESR are given many different opportunities to keep their children instead of giving them for adoption. GLA offers families help with schooling, offers to refer them to long term orphanage care so that they might keep the children here in Haiti, we talk to them about extended family helping them, and we also talk to the parent about opportunities for further education if the parent has had schooling already. IBESR repeats all of that and even talks to them about work opportunities. The birth family has lots to think about before that final decision they must make of whether to give their child for adoption or choose an alternative for keeping them.
IBESR staff was very aware of the reality of life in Haiti and how these parents are not giving their children for adoption without much thought. They have been doing interviews with these biological families now for over a year and they have heard a lot of stories and reasons why they cannot keep their children. I think it has been an eye opening experience for all of them. Before, they were aware of the life that many people lived but it has become a whole new reality hearing their stories daily.
A few things that were asked and answered that I think are important:
- There has recently been an exception made for the upper age limit with the law. A case just last week was passed where the husband was over 50 years old. I brought this up at the meeting and asked if this was just a one time exception or if others could also be matched if they are over 50 and are a good match for the child. I did not want an exception made for one family only because they had connections. I wanted to see that all families if they qualified could benefit from Social Services saying this is the BEST family for THIS child! I was told that if IBESR feels it is a good match that they do have the right to petition for an exception to the law! This is HUGE and I reminded them of a case I had recently of an African-American couple who were both 52 years old and they had refused. They said they would now reconsider those type of cases.
- I asked about the timing of getting some of the matching done of the dossiers and children sitting in IBESR at this moment. They did not give me an exact date and said it took a lot of different people working together but they are working to get matching done. There are a lot of new employees at IBESR and they seem to be busy. Met Guillaume, the lawyer over adoptions, hopes to see matches happening by the end of the month. I pray that we do NOT receive them all in one week. The logistics of having 20+ families receiving matches all at the same time would be a nightmare! We could not host 20 families for 2 weeks all at one time, so we do hope they spread them out just a little bit. We had more birth families travel to IBESR on Wednesday to attend their second interview. Hopefully we will soon have about 10 more children who have been here at the orphanage for quite some time ready to be matched. I think that is the most discouraging aspect of the process is that children are sitting at the orphanage for months before they even have the possibility of being matched. Very seldom is it happening in less than 6 months after admission and most are more.
- If you are a foreigner living in Haiti and have a permis sejour and have lived here at least 5 years, then all of your adoption paperwork can be done in Haiti as a resident of Haiti. This is good news for those missionaries and humanitarian works living here with a permis sejour. It would be considered a National adoption.
I think those are the most important points that came out at the meeting. At least those are the ones I wrote down and remember! The panel answered some very specific questions for dossiers and cases pending, but the general answers were things we have already covered in other blogs.
I think we all need to pray that they matching children and families soon. Every creche staff I talked to told me the same thing, they are having difficulty finding funds to feed the children. We at GLA have the same problem. Funds from adoptions have always been used for the children’s needs. With no new funding coming in, we are relying on donations only to run the orphanage. It is very difficult and the costs remain the same whether we are getting matches or not. So please, every day so a pray that IBESR will start making matches and life in Haiti can get back to a more normal level for the creches.