The media attention in Haiti has also brought increased awareness to the plight of children who have become unaccompanied or orphaned as a result of the devastating earthquake on January 12, 2010. InterAction stresses that, in the aftermath of humanitarian crises, international adoption should not be the first response to helping protect and care for vulnerable children. International adoption is a closely regulated system, with standards and safeguards in place designed to ensure the protection of children in need. Following the immediate provision of life-saving assistance to children, it is critical to identify and protect extremely vulnerable children from potential situations that might result in the child being trafficked, or put in situations of sexual exploitation or abuse. Tracing family members and reuniting children with existing relatives is the best solution for vulnerable children in post-crisis situations. It is often extremely difficult to determine whether children truly are orphans in many cases, and is often difficult to fulfill the legal requirements needed of both the U.S. and the child’s country of origin.
A preferred method to assist at risk children is by donating directly to the approximately ten InterAction member organizations that provide child protection services. Further information about InterAction members response to Haiti can be found on InterAction’s website. Child sponsorship, a program offered by approximately four InterAction member organizations, is another option, which ensures that vulnerable children have access to the basic essential services needed for survival. For questions and further information about adopting children from Haiti, please contact Holt International, an InterAction member and child protection and adoption organization.
The U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security recently announced a humanitarian parole policy to expedite the adoption processes for orphaned children from Haiti to enter the U.S. temporarily on an individual basis. This is a highly regulated process requiring significant documentation to ensure the protection of potential adoptive children. Further information can be found here: http://adoption.state.gov/news/Haiti.html. If you were in the process of adopting a child from Haiti and have questions, please visit the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues web site on Intercountry Adoption for newly revised guidelines. U.S. citizens with pending adoption cases in Haiti can also email AskCI@state.gov for information about their adoption case, or send detailed information about the cases to HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov.