Haiti Adoption Guide

Learn what you need to know to start the process of adopting from Haiti.

Jeanette Green April 02, 2015

Haiti is a beautiful island country surrounded by clear ocean water. Most tourists see the sandy beaches and breathtaking ocean views. They visit sites and eat Haitian food. They feel the vibrance of this small country. Yet Haiti is among the poorest nations in the western hemisphere, with nearly 80% of the population living in extreme poverty. For this reason, adoption has been a source of hope for many families—a hope that their children may have a future. Either abandoned or relinquished, over 3,200 children have been adopted from Haiti since 1999.

Before you get started with this guide, you’ll probably want to familiarize yourself with the overall process of International Adoption. That means you’ll need to read this guide first—then come back here to get all the inside information on adopting from Haiti.

Slides 1-9 provide background information about adopting from Haiti. Slides 10-20 outline the process. Slides 21-22 include links to more resources on our site that you might find helpful.

Please note: Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and reliability of the information provided in this slideshow guide, you should not rely on it to make decisions. Instead, you should rely on licensed professionals in making decisions relative to adoption. The information in this guide is subject to change without notice. Adoption.com is not responsible for the consequences of relying on this information. In no event shall Adoption.com be liable for any direct, indirect, special, or incidental damage resulting from, arising out of, or in connection with the use of this information.

Background: Is Haiti Hague Accredited?
1. Background: Is Haiti Hague Accredited?

As of April 1, 2014 Haiti is a part of the Hague Convention. This means individuals wishing to adopt from Haiti must comply with certain procedures and guidelines. These procedures and guidelines were set in the international agreement as a way to protect innocent children from abduction, trafficking, sale, and exploitation.

Image: arindambanerjee / Shutterstock.com

Background: Can I Adopt From Haiti?
2. Background: Can I Adopt From Haiti?

In 2013 Haiti's restrictions for adoption changed allowing many more families to adopt in haiti In addition to U.S. requirements of background checks and a current home study, Haiti has its own set of requirements that you must abide by.

Travel: You are required to travel to Haiti twice before finalization.

Age: At least one spouse must be 30 years old, and no older than 50 at the time the dossier is submitted to Haiti. You must be at least 14 years older than the prospective adopted child.

Marital Status: Married couples and single individuals may adopt from Haiti. You must be married a minimum of five years. If you are single, you must be at least 35 and no older than 50 at the time dossier is submitted to Haiti. If married, at least one individual must be above the age of 30.

Income: You must be able to provide proof of employment and financial stability. If there are other children in the home, must be able to show you have the resources to take care of another child.

SOURCE: BBinternationaladoption.com

Background: Adoption Statistics
3. Background: Adoption Statistics

In 2013, new adoption laws went into effect in Haiti. Criteria for prospective adoptive parents is now less restrictive than it was in the past, allowing more individuals and couples to have the opportunity to adopt from Haiti.

Adoptions from Haiti to U.S. by year:

2016: 150
2015: 171
2014: 464
2013: 388
2012: 154
2011: 33
2010: 133

NOTE: After Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010, hundreds of children were adopted from Haiti. To help save innocent lives from the dire situation, the secretary of homeland security announced that the U.S was lifting visa requirements for orphans who had already been approved and matched with families for adoption. The statistics below do not properly reflect the number of adoptions in 2010, as it is estimated there were actually close to 1,000 adoptions after the earthquake. The 133 adoptions in 2010 probably reflect the number of adoptions after things got back on track and visa regulations returned to normal.

Source: Intercountry Adoption
Image: Sura Nualpradid / Shutterstock.com

Background: Information about Children Available for Adoption
4. Background: Information about Children Available for Adoption

With a population of only 8 million people, it is estimated that there are nearly 1 million orphans living in Haiti. Extreme, crippling poverty is the main reason for such a shocking number. However, these children who have been born into such difficult circumstances seem to have determination and resiliency engraved in their DNA.

There are many healthy Haitian infants and children waiting for stable, loving homes. However, some requirements limit the number of available children:

-the child must be no older than 16 at the time of referral
-a child with known biological parents is not available for adoption until three months after birth
-sibling groups are to remain together, unless a judge feels it in the best interest of the children to be separated

Like many other countries, there is a great need for individuals, couples, and families who are wanting to adopt a child with special needs. These children with special needs, just as every other child hoping to be adopted, are waiting for a family who will love them unconditionally and embrace them into their hearts and home.

Special needs cases range from mild to severe. Typical cases include malnutrition, anemia, and neglect. In Haiti, a special needs situation would include children who suffer physical, emotional, or mental disabilities or disorders. Special needs could also include chronic medical conditions, older children, and/or sibling groups.

SOURCE: Childrenofallnations.com

Slide 6: Background: Waiting Periods
5. Slide 6: Background: Waiting Periods

According to the U.S. Department of State, the adoption waiting time can take more than 18 months. A few requirements make the process longer.

Once an adoption is approved, the adoptive parent(s) must apply for a Haitian passport for the child. A form is then sent and there is a wait time until it is determined that the child is eligible for international adoption. Once international adoption eligibility is confirmed, a visa interview is held.

All these steps can add an extra 3-6 months before your child can come home with you. For more information about how to contact the Haitian IBESR (central authority over adoptions), click here.

Source: Intercountry Adoption

Background: Travel Requirements
6. Background: Travel Requirements

Haiti adoption law requires families to travel to the country and spend a minimum 14 day bonding period. Both parents must be present during that time. The only foreseeable exception would be if a parent is in the military service and deployed.

You can get to know some of the children available for adoption in Haiti by browsing our photolisting.

Background: How Adoption is Managed in Haiti
7. Background: How Adoption is Managed in Haiti

Everything adoption related runs through the central authority, Institut du Bien-Etre Social et de Recherche (IBESR). Orphanages do their part working with IBESR to clear children for adoption, while agencies help prepare adoptive families' paperwork. It is the central authority who then puts together an adoptive family's dossier and a child's dossier, ready to be submitted for referral.

Background: Cost
9. Background: Cost

In 2014, the average cost of adopting from Haiti, including travel-related costs, was $25,000 - $40,000.

And now, if you’ve decided Haiti adoption is for you, let’s move on to the “How To” portion of this guide.

How To: Find an Agency
10. How To: Find an Agency

When searching for an agency to complete your adoption, you will need to first ensure that they are accredited to complete adoptions through Haiti.

Look through Adoption.com’s Reviews section to read about the experiences others have had while working with agencies you are considering.

Also, read about the four essential criteria in selecting an adoption agency.

Or check out this article about selecting an international adoption professional.

One final place to look for adoption support is our international adoption forums.

How To: Complete Your International Home Study
11. How To: Complete Your International Home Study

International Adoption home studies are very specific. It’s best to know which country you plan on adopting from before you start an international home study because different countries have different rules, and the U.S. has different rules based on which country you are adopting from. Also, different workers and agencies are sometimes only able to do certain types of home studies.

Be sure when you contact an agency inside your home state to ask them about their home study requirements for international adoption from Haiti as every agency has different requirements.

How To: Gather Documents for Your Application Dossier
12. How To: Gather Documents for Your Application Dossier

Your dossier will include a personalized letter requesting to be matched with a child for adoption, current home study, psychological evaluation, birth certificates, marriage certificate, and medical certificate that includes a complete health record and lab results.

Your dossier will also need to include police records indicating a clear criminal record, letter verifying employment, financial statements, two notarized reference letters, and three recent photographs.

How To: Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
13. How To: Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt

After selecting an approved adoption agency, you will need to submit an I-800A form to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the I-800A is approved, your agency will submit your homestudy and approval from USCIS to IBESR.

Once you have been matched with a child, you will then apply to USCIS for the child to be provisionally eligible for adoption and immigration. When U.S. approval for the adoption is received, you are able to move forward with the adoption.

How To: Wait
14. How To: Wait

The typical wait time for Haiti is between 18 and 24 months. However, depending on circumstances the time could be longer. Rarely does it take less than 18 months.

For ideas on how to cope with the wait, check out these articles:
5 Ways to Keep Your Sanity While Waiting
Adoption: Bearing the Wait

How To: Receive a Referral
15. How To: Receive a Referral

If both countries determine you are eligible to adopt, IBESR will provide a referral for a child. A referral is a suggested match between you and a child. IBESR will provide background information on the child. You then have the choice to accept or deny the referral.

Learn more about considering and accepting or refusing a referral:
What To Do When An Adoption Opportunity Just Feels Wrong

Image: arindambanerjee / Shutterstock.com

How To: Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the US
16. How To: Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the US

Once you’ve accepted a referral, you’ll need to apply to the USCIS for approval to adopt that particular child. Your adoption service provider will apply for a visa for your child. The Adopted Children’s Immigration Visa Unit will review the child’s information and determine if the child is eligible for a visa. Once the child has been approved for a visa, you are ready to travel to Haiti to meet your child. (That is, if you’ve obtained a passport, visa, and necessary immunizations.)

How To: Travel
17. How To: Travel

Before traveling to Haiti to bring your child home, you should have your passports and visas. You will also need to have applied, and in hand, your child's birth certificate, passport, and immigrant visa. You will need these documents to get back into the U.S.

How To: Get Your Child Documented in the US
18. How To: Get Your Child Documented in the US

You may want to consider applying for a U.S. birth certificate for your child.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding your adoption, your child may or may not be automatically considered a U.S. citizen upon entering the country. Check with your adoption agency to know if you’ll need to apply for his/her US citizenship.

How To: Complete Your Post-Adoption Reporting
19. How To: Complete Your Post-Adoption Reporting

Haitian adoption laws require seven post-adoption reports. These are to take place 6, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, and 60 months after a child’s arrival with the adoptive family. This is to show that bonding is occurring and the child is integrating well into the new family and environment. It is the responsibility of your adoption agency to get the first four reports sent to IBESR. The last three reports are the adoptive family's responsibility to send to IBESR.

To maintain positive adoption experiences between the U.S. and Haiti, these reports must be considered a priority for the families and sent on time.

Source: All Blessings International

How To: Welcome Your Adopted Child Home
20. How To: Welcome Your Adopted Child Home

Remember that your child’s life has changed drastically, so try to keep things simple and calm. Take the time to play with and cuddle the child. Be patient while your child adjusts. Try to provide familiar foods, music, language, and cultural activities. Try to learn some of your child’s language. Be aware of differences in touch/physical boundaries.

For more ideas on how to celebrate your child’s culture while also helping them adjust to your home, check out our multicultural adoption guide.

Most of all, enjoy this time with your child.

author image

Jeanette Green

Jeanette Green is a mother to three beautiful children--two through the blessing of adoption. She is a firm believer that we never walk alone, the sun continues to shine even when we can’t feel its rays, and you can’t get sick from raw cookie dough. Various life experiences have taught her that life never turns out like we expect. But if we’re patient, we learn that it’s better that way. To learn more about Jeanette and her crew, visit The Green Piece

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