Saturday, March 27, 2010

Adoption in the Aftermath of Crisis

What are the current issues regarding adoption in the United States right now?

Before concluding, we wanted to look at our topic of adoption in light of current events, specifically the historic earthquake that occurred in Haiti on January 12th. As we have already talked about how difficult international adoption can be on a regular basis, it is no surprise that a natural disaster of this level has caused havoc around Haiti’s adoption processes, which was notorious for taking years to begin with. The United States had just over 300 adoptions from Haiti in 2008, and many families were in the midst of their own adoption procedures when the earthquake occurred. (“Haiti Adoption”). Hopeful adoptive parents were suddenly scrambling to find out if their prospective children were even still alive, and if they were how they could continue their adoptions in order to retrieve them from the disaster as soon as possible. In order to aid this process and help families trying to bring their adopted children to the United States, the Department of Homeland Security passed a humanitarian parole policy on January 18th that allows orphans to come to the US temporarily on individual bases to make sure that they undergo the care they need. (“US Citizenship and Immigration Services”). This policy applied to children who fall in to two categories: those we have been confirmed as orphans eligible for international adoption, meet the logistical criteria, and were in the process of being adopted before January 12 – and those in the same situation who were not in the process of being adopted, but who were matched with prospective parents prior to the same date. In this way, all children who were about to be adopted are being given the chance to unite with their adoptive families in the United States as soon as possible. However, one of the problems after disasters such as this one can be the loss of legal documents and the chaos or breakdown of communication lines and authorities/government departments. (“Haiti Information”) Therefore, it still has not been easy, and there are kids who may have been in the adoption process who are now stuck. However, the efforts of the US government in terms of adoption policy reflected their continual efforts to aid Haiti in as many ways as possible, and in many cases it has paid off. Below is a youtube clip of a couple in Wisconsin who recently united with their adopted two-year-old Haitian girl as a result of this new legislation:

The Department of State is also asking couples who have not yet been able to bring their children to the United States to send them as much detailed information about their child and adoption case as possible, in case their documentation in Haiti was destroyed during the earthquake. Another way for anyone to help is to make a donation to specific humanitarian organizations working in Haiti on adoptions, such as the Joint Council on International Children’s Services.

The other side of the adoption frenzy is Haiti right now is a blessing, but a difficult one, as many United States families are now wanting and hoping to adopt in light of the earthquake. While this is extremely heartwarming, and even though legislation in the United States has been loosned, the same legal documentation and confirmations need to be met in Haiti in order to start the process. Due to the fact that so many deaths are still unknown, and children may have been separated from families, sadly it is still being determined which children are actually orphans. Therefore, it needs to be confirmed that these children have no remaining family in Haiti who still wish to be their caretakers before they can become eligible. This will be a long process, but is clearly severely important. Sadly, there have been many people who have taken advantage of this situation and tried to adopt children without regards to the international adoption laws. These have been dubbed, “cowboy adoptions” and while people may think they’re helping, in actually they are abducting children who may be families. (“Protecting Haiti’s Children from “Cowboy Adoptions”)

Therefore, it is important for people in the adoption process to keep pushing agencies and government offices to get their children home! And those hoping to adopt are encouraged to do so, as long as they follow the laws that – while they may seem arduous and take far too much time – are there to protect children and their families. Lastly, this link is to an interesting MSNBC article regarding these issues and families who are working through them.

Discussion Questions:
1) How do you think you would react as a person in the midst of an adoption of a Haitian child?
2) Are these issues regarding adoption things you would have expected or thought about in the aftermath of a natural disaster like this one in Haiti? Are you surprised by the issues brought up? Did you consider adoption when you thought about what problems are now facing Haiti?

“Haiti Adoption”
“US Citizenship and Immigration Services”
"Haiti Information"
"Protecting Haiti’s Children from “Cowboy Adoptions”

Posted by: Courtney Vataha, Kendall Eifler, Cassandra Knox, Nancy Chen, and Jessica Powell

1 comment:

  1. If I were in the midst of adopting a Haitian child during the earthquake, I would become very frusterated with the fact that my potential adoptive child is in serious danger, or worse, dead. I appreciate the determinaion the US has on the addoptive process and the amount of effort we have put into helping the survivors of the earthquake.
    Although there is a high demand for adoptive children, the fact that families are just "taking" children because the children are in need is not justifiable. Those children still have family members who may have been seperated from them, and they still have mothers or fathers, etc who care about them. No adoption should take place without the proper paper work and consent.

    -Alicia Mamula