A two-hour conference call was held on Tuesday January 26th among USCIS, DHS, DOS and prospective adoptive parents and adoptive parents.
Shortly after the earthquake, the movement of already identified and matched orphans was proposed by the US and quickly accepted by the Haitian government. The Dutch and German governments also made proposals that were accepted early on. The Government of Haiti is completely in favor of children identified before the earthquake to be adoptable and matched to qualified adoptive parents to come to US. There is NO HALT in the processing of cases despite reports in the media. Talks about a new Haiti government check are ongoing at senior levels of both governments and only expected to delay the travel plans for a short time.
There are approximately 700 identified cases with 500 that have gone through the preliminary approval process on the US side. DHS is working on 200 more cases and expect that there are others. They do not have 100 percent of the contact information from prospective adoptive parents. DHS is asking prospective adoptive parents to directly send their information to Haitianadoptions@dhs.gov
If you are aware of orphanages that are not being processed, help USCIS connect with these orphanages by sending their contact info to the DHS email address. If you know of orphanages in dire straits, send a message with a header EMERGENCY ORPHANAGE IN DIRE STRAITS.
If you have been notified by your agency that the process is no longer working and adoptions will no longer go through, this is not true. Please contact DHS directly if you have been misinformed by your agency.
USCIS has teams of people working around the clock to process all cases as soon as possible.
Preliminary vetting is occurring in Washington DC in the following manner:
Step 1: Receive information from prospective adoptive parent (also can be given by Adoption Service Provider or orphanage) from email Haitianadoptions@dhs.gov
Step 2: They review documents. If they need more documents, they will contact prospective adoptive parent via phone or email. They prefer phone contact.
Step 3: For those people who have not yet been fingerprinted or are having fingerprints that are expiring, DHS will work with the prospective adoptive parent to get that done by helping to schedule an appointment at the local USCIS Application Support Center.
Step 4: Prospective adoptive parent will be notified via email (EMAIL #1) if they are Category 1, Category 2, or Category 2+ (tentative or possible, meaning that confirmation of eligibility will come from documents that US embassy in Haiti would likely have).
Step 5: USCIS in Washington DC sends information to US Embassy in Port au Prince to match up with their documents.
USCIS worked over the past weekend to vet as many cases as possible. However, not all emails to prospective parents of these 500 have been sent yet.
If a prospective adoptive parent receives a category classification, that indicates that your case has been preliminary vetted. You may assume all of the information has been sent to the US Embassy.
Process on the Haiti Side
Prospective adoptive parents are discouraged from going to Haiti. If a prospective adoptive parent is already in Haiti, he or she may proceed to the US Embassy and gain entry BUT their case WILL NOT be prioritized over the cases that they have scheduled. This is NOT a way to fast-track the processing of your child. Know that your presence will be causing delays for others who are following the rules.
The US Embassy continues to process cases and print out travel documents. While the Haitian government determines the proper procedure (expected to be resolved very soon) the travel documents will be held at the Embassy.
Scheduling at the Embassy: The Embassy is striving to move eligible children in groups. They want the list of ALL eligible children from each orphanage in advance. The goal is to stop people from showing up without appointments. They prefer to schedule appointments a few days in advance.
Preferred Process at US Embassy in Port au Prince
1) Orphanage director (or other trusted adult associated with orphanage) WITHOUT the eligible children but WITH documents and photos is to go to embassy to deliver documents to the USCIS part of Embassy. The pre-vetted information from Washington DC will be at the Embassy. The Orphanage director would then leave.
2) Embassy matches the pre-vetted documents from Washington DC with any extra documents brought by the orphanage and/or documents in the possession of the Embassy and then gets back in touch with orphanage (could be a few days). At this point, arrangements will be made for the orphanage director or other trusted adult to bring eligible children for “physical identification”--matching the actual child with the paperwork.
3) Letters and travel documents issued (printed).
4) Hand out the letters/travel documents so that child can be flown to the US. (For now, it will NOT be handed to them until new Haiti procedure goes in place)
5) Email (EMAIL #2) will be sent to the prospective adoptive parent informing about travel manifest. US embassy or agency may arrange travel from Port au Prince Airport to US. See http://pear-now.blogspot.com/2010/01/haiti-update-important-information-for.html about specifics on travel.
Entry into US
If your child is classified as a Category 2, Humanitarian Parole by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) , when child arrives in US:
1) DHS transfers custody to ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement)
2) ORR will transfer custody to the sponsor (prospective adoptive parent) only AFTER their review of documents (US departments are sharing them to expedite the process) and the Family Reunification Packet. The Family Reunification Packet can be found at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ORR . Some elements of the reunification packet, such as possession of original birth certificate, may be able to be waived. The elements will be decided on a case-by-case basis. It is preferred to complete the Family Reunification Packet prior to your child’s arrival.
3) Processing will take up to 1 day. In rare cases it will take longer. For those cases, children will be transferred to a skilled residential facility for children until process completes. Prospective adoptive parents will have access to their child and can visit during this brief time.
4) Phone 202-441-7748 with questions about this or during the custody transfer.
It is possible that a child’s classification may change from the preliminary vetting in Washington DC to the US embassy finalization. It is also possible that after arriving in the US, a child’s category could be changed from Category 2 to Category 1 if evidence is available. Process to be determined.
Future Conference Calls
Future conference calls with adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents will be scheduled. PEAR will post that information here when we learn of it.
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.