How to Adopt from Haiti
Haitian Adoption Authority
Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR)
The process for adopting a child from Haiti generally includes the following steps:
- Choose an Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Adopt the Child in Haiti
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
- Bring Your Child Home
1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
The first step in adopting a child from Haiti is usually to select a licensed agency in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption agencies must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. Learn more about choosing the right adoption service provider.
Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing authority in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
To bring an adopted child from Haiti to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
3. Be Matched with a Child:
Under the current system, matching often occurs through the adoption service provider. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the child. Once the prospective adoptive parents are matched with a child, they must submit the Extrait des Minutes du Greffe du Tribunal de Paix (minutes of the legal consent proceedings) or Extrait de l'acte de Decès (extract of the death certificates of the biological parents), if applicable to IBESR, which will investigate, among other things, the medical and psychological well-being of the prospective adoptive parents and child.
- Role of the Justice of the Peace: the biological parents consent to the adoption process before the Justice of the Peace. Some jurisdictions such as Port-au-Prince require American prospective adoptive parents to travel to Haiti to appear before a Justice of the Peace in consent proceedings before the adoption is finalized. . In the Port-au-Prince jurisdiction, parents are also asked to appear before the Dean of the Civil Courts after appearing before the Justice of the Peace. While it is our understanding that this should only take one trip to Haiti to complete the process, the number of trips will depend heavily on the local agents in scheduling and planning on behalf of their clients, the availability of the consenting parties, and of course on the availability of the magistrates.
- Role of The Adoption Authority: If IBESR approves the adoption, it issues an Autorisation d'Adoption, Authorization of Adoption. Note: Only the IBESR office in Port-au-Prince can authorize an adoption. IBESR regional offices do not have this authority. This second step is often the most time-consuming in the overall adoption process. Each case has different mitigating factors, some more complicated than others, all of which can have a direct impact on the length of time it takes IBESR to process an individual case. The Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy has no authority over or ability to influence how quickly IBESR processes its caseload or which cases it takes in which order.
- Role of the Civil Court: Prospective adoptive parents must present the IBESR Authorization of Adoption to the Tribunal Civil (Civil Court) that has jurisdiction over the child's residence in order to obtain an Acte d'Adoption (Adoption Act), which finalizes the adoption. Adoption Application: Prospective adoptive parents should file their application with IBESR.
- Time Frame: The adoption process in Haiti frequently requires as long as eighteen months, primarily because the legal process is complex. Historically, adoption applications have taken over than two years. Once an adoption case has been approved by IBESR and USCIS, the adoptive parent(s) must apply for a Haitian passport for the child; this process can take an additional two or three months after the receipt of the Acte d'Adoption. The Adoptions Unit recommends that the child obtain a valid Haitian passport once the adoption is complete. The Adoptions Unit will conduct the visa interview in the case once the applicant files a completed DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, and pays the required necessary fees. However, there is no guarantee that a visa will be granted after the visa interview. The granting of a visa depends on the applicant's file being documentarily complete, and the applicant overcoming any visa ineligibility. If at the time of the visa interview the adoption case is complete and the immigrant visa is issuable, the visa itself is typically available within two business days.
- Adoption Fees: IBESR charges approximately $190 USD. Haiti's courts charge for judicial services, but their fees are not fixed. Prospective adoptive parents should expect to pay varying court fees and expenses. It is not possible to determine the approximate total cost to adopt a child in Haiti because there are no set adoption fees. Some adoptive parents have reported paying $3,000 USD, excluding airfare; while others reported paying much larger sums. The Adoptions Unit recommends that prospective adoptive parents contact their local agents or adoption service providers to inquire about current fees as they are subject to change. The adoptive parents must also pay the cost of the child's medical examination. The fee for the medical examination is $55. Children over the age of 10 are also required to obtain the necessary vaccinations - the fees for which will vary depending on which vaccinations the child is missing. These fees do change periodically. Note that the vaccinations may be waived for completion in the United States if the child is under the age of 10. NOTE: Haitian and U.S. law prohibit any payments to the child's birth parent(s) or guardian(s) by the prospective adoptive parent(s) or their agents.
- Documents Required: All documents are required to be translated into French and authenticated by a Haitian consul in the United States. The following is a list of documents for the child that are required by IBESR to process an adoption application:
- 1. Three identity photos;
- 2. A Haitian legal document called the "Certificate of Abandonment" (this document is applicable in abandonment cases)
- 3. Relinquishment of parental rights from each birth parent (if the birth parents are deceased, the surviving relatives or legal guardian must issue this document);
- 4. The child's birth certificate, and the extract (official copy from the National Archives) of the birth certificate, if available;
- 5. Death certificate of the birth parents (" l'acte de decès"), if applicable;
- 6. The child's social history, which is a statement prepared by a social worker appointed by IBESR, stating how the child became an abandoned child;
- 7. A psychological evaluation of the child; and
- 8. A complete medical report that includes tests for tuberculosis, HIV, and sickle cell anemia.
NOTE: Fraudulent documents are easily and cheaply available in Haiti and often can be obtained with much less effort than genuine documents. These documents may include birth certificates, death certificates, relinquishment documents purportedly issued by civil courts and even adoption authorizations. Documents are routinely submitted to the issuing authorities for verification. Fraudulent documents submitted for an immigrant visa petition for an adoptive child will result in the I-600 petition being returned to the USCIS office that approved the petition with a memorandum requesting reconsideration and possible revocation. Submission of additional documents in an attempt to "correct" the fraudulent documents does not offer relief of the fraud after the fact. Please insure that your chosen adoption agent, facilitator or orphanage director is aware of our policy in this regard. Other documents necessary:
- 1. Three identity photos of each of the prospective adoptive parents;
- 2. Birth certificate of each prospective adoptive parent (or Extrait de Naissance if born in Haiti);
- 3. Marriage certificate of the prospective adoptive parents (Extrait de Mariage if married in Haiti; not required of single adoptive parent);
- 4. An original notarized power of attorney designating whoever may act on the parents' behalf in Haiti (if applicable; a fax copy is not sufficient);
- 5. Financial documents, including tax returns, job letters, notarized bank account documents and copies of deeds and mortgages (prospective adoptive parents should forward the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support with the requisite attachments);
- 6. An evaluation of the household environment in which the adoptive child will live (the home study conducted for the I-600A can be used to fulfill this requirement);
- 7. A statement from a competent police authority in the prospective adoptive parent's town of residence indicating the absence of a criminal record (this is included in the home study and the I-171H is sufficient for this requirement);
- 8. Medical examination reports for the prospective adoptive parent(s);
- 9. A psychological evaluation report of the prospective adoptive parent(s); and
- 10. Two notarized letters of reference.
- A. The adoptive parents' birth certificates (if born in Haiti, these must be the official Extrait de l'acte de Naissance (Extract of Birth certificate) available from the Haitian National Archives);
- B. The child's Extrait d'acte de Naissance; this should not be confused with the Acte de Naissance, the document upon which the Extrait is based;
- C. The adoptive parents' marriage certificate, if applicable; and
- D. If the biological parents of the child are deceased, their Extrait d'acte de Decès (Extract of Death certificate) from the Haitian National Archives.
NOTE: Archives Nationales d'Haiti is the National Archives in Port-au-Prince and is the only Haitian agency with the authority to issue extracts related to acts of birth, death, marriage, and divorce. Each of these documents is based on an "acte" of birth, death, marriage, and divorce; this "acte" is rarely sufficient for IBESR or U.S. immigration purposes. The Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy has no authority over the National Archives or ability to influence how quickly it can provide required extracts.
5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
6. Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete, there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
- 1. Haitian Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he or she will need a travel document or passport from Haiti. Haitian immigration authorities require that all Haitian children leave using Haitian passports that bear their adoptive name. The processing time for a Haitian passport can be as long as two or three months after the receipt of the final adoption act. The U.S. Embassy cannot issue U.S. passports to Haitian children, as U.S. passports are available only to U.S. citizens. NOTE: The Adoptions Unit of the U.S. Embassy has no authority over or ability to influence how quickly the Haitian Immigration Office issues requested passports.
- 2. U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the U.S. Embassy for your child. After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-600 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician's medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Learn more. When the Adoptions Unit receives the approved Form I-600 for the child, the Unit will contact the orphanage director/ adoption facilitator chosen by the adoptive parent(s) to request the submission of all the necessary civil documents to enable the conduct of the I-604 interview. If the I-600 was approved by a domestic office of USCIS, it is the responsibility of the Adoptions Unit to complete the I-604 Orphan Investigation before beginning immigrant visa processing. If the I-600 petition was filed at USCIS Port-au-Prince, USCIS will complete the I-604 Orphan Investigation prior to approving the I-600.
NOTE: All appointments and interviews must be scheduled with the Adoptions Unit in advance by email by the adoptions agent employed by the adoptive parent(s). Appointments are scheduled between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday; I-604 Orphan Investigation interviews with the birth parent(s) are scheduled on Wednesdays between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Upon arrival at the Consular Entrance, the agent should present a printed copy of the e-mailed appointment to the guard at the Consular Entrance. The agent will then be directed to the Adoptions unit assistant, who will address the specific purpose of the appointment.
Depending on where the I-600 was filed, there will be several steps to be completed prior to the final immigrant visa interview. Each child's case must be complete and the child must qualify for immigration based on the laws and regulations set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (as amended). Adoptive parents often wish to be present for the final immigrant visa interview. However, they are strongly advised to wait until the immigrant visa itself has been issued and collected by the adoption agent working for them before traveling to Haiti. Please refer to Haiti's Country Specific travel information at travel.state.gov.
Each adopted child must have a medical examination performed by one of the U.S. Embassy Consular Section's panel physicians before he or she can be issued an immigrant visa. The Consular Section has a list of approved panel physicians for prospective adoptive parents' reference; please contact the Adoption Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain an up-to-date copy of the list.
Several documents must be presented to the U.S. Embassy Adoption Unit at the visa interview so that an immigrant visa can be processed for the child:
- 1. A Haitian passport reflecting the child's legal name as shown on the Act of Adoption;
- 2. Two standard identification photographs. The face of the child on the photo should measure approximately one inch from the chin to the top of the hair. The Immigrant Visa Unit accepts passport photographs that show a frontal image of the face, but it cannot accept images where the child's face is turned;
- 3 A medical report by an approved panel physician, including vaccinations (unless the prospective parent(s) of a child under age 10 intend to request a vaccination waiver.NOTE: The panel physicians can only perform the required medical examination after the adopted child possesses a valid Haitian passport);
- 4. Form DS-260, the biographical data sheet for the child, completed by the adoption agent/ facilitator OR the adopting parent in the name of the adopted child;
- 5. Either the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864W) executed by the petitioner if the adoptive parents have seen child before the date of issuance of the final adoption decree; OR, if the adoptive parents have not seen the child before the date of issuance of the final adoption decree, the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), 1040s and W-2s for the most recent year, along with evidence of current employment, such as a letter of employment or pay stubs executed by the petitioner. Adoptive parents who file joint tax returns must also complete form I-864A, which must be signed by both parents;
- 6. The child's birth certificate (Acte de Naissance) and, if available, extract of birth (Extrait de l'Acte de Naissance) from the Haitian National Archives;
- 7. The Extrait des Minutes du Greffe of the Justice of the Peace with jurisdiction over the child's place of domicile;
- 8. The Authorization of Adoption from IBESR, indicating that the adoption conforms to the laws of Haiti;
- 9. The Act of Adoption by the Civil Court with jurisdiction over the domicile of the child;
- 10. Extract of death certificate (Extrait de l' Acte de Decès) of the deceased biological parent(s) from the Haitian National Archives, if applicable.
To learn about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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