The following is a summary of the teleconference of DHS, USCIS and HHS regarding Haitian Adoptions Status of February 3, 2010 from 3:00 pm to 4:45pm
Families and concerned individuals are advised not to send emails urging quick processing etc. It will clog the email box.
Statistics- 750 cases approved; 600 children already in US of approximately 1000 cases
US has a good understanding based on trust with the Haitian government regarding the orphan processing. They are accepting US determinations of humanitarian parole for the children. There was a brief hiatus in processing cases when Haiti temporarily called a halt due to trafficking concerns but they have resumed with the process of granting humanitarian parole to children who were previously determined to be legal orphans properly referred to parents who have been screened.
Parents may express their thanks to the Haitian government via the Haitian Embassy in Washington DC. They can send an email to the Ambassador’s office
The USCIS has posted additional information in the form of Q and As at their site http://adoption.state.gov/news/faq_adoption_haiti.html
The vetting of cases is being done on a case by case basis with triage of urgent need cases processed first. There is a preliminary review and then a second “quality assurance review”
Rejection of cases results in the case being considered by a review board. If the case is missing information parents will be notified and given the opportunity to submit it
All cases are ultimately approved or rejected only at the US Embassy level in Port au Prince.
Upon a preliminary decision of approval by DHS in Washington, Parents will be notified but the decision will be subject to verification of the identity of the child and approval by Embassy Officers.
Parents were repeatedly advised not to go to Haiti and not to have their child go to the Embassy without an appointment as this is making it more difficult to process the children in an organized and expeditious manner.
After preliminary approval and upon an appointment, the child must go to the Embassy to be seen personally and obtain a travel document ( not a passport) . The child should NOT proceed to the Embassy without an appointment notice unless they are in extremely urgent circumstances. Transport and processing are being arranged by both orphanage personnel and individual care takers or custodians in the case of individual adopters. If an individual adopter is not sure how to get the child to the Embassy or the caregiver is unable to communicate with the Embassy, please contact HaitianAdoptions@DHS.gov. It is important for all parents to include all available contact info for the child including phone numbers and location of the child. Children should NOT go with someone who states they will take them to the Embassy without prior notice.
Non-resident US citizens adopting must inform USCIS via HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov
Heather Burke of HHS stated that children who arrive must have an immediate medical evaluation. They can print out for pediatricians what testing and examinations are advised from the CDC website concerning Haitian Adoptions.
For those children without health coverage, they can be examined by the local office of Refugee Resettlement for free.
It was emphasized that it is urgent that these children be seen by a doctor and tested as recommended immediately upon arrival.
All children are now being sent to Miami with no exceptions where HHS has set up a reception process that is running smoothly. All children are received at the airport and turned over to trained caregivers where they will be checked, fed, given clean clothes, etc. Children in category 1 can be released to parents as soon as their paperwork is checked but the majority in Cat 2 will need to have their parents processed for sponsorship via the Family reunification application and process. Parents will be able to visit and be with their children while this takes places. The site has facilities for this and parents are being assisted with information about area accommodations while their applications for sponsorship are pending. 65 were processed the day before yesterday without problem.
Parents CAN commence their process BEFORE the child’s arrival if they come to Miami before the child.
Parents who have children in the country now and those who will shortly are advised NOT to take steps to adopt/re-adopt or legally adjust their children’s status until they are given further guidance by USCIS which will be forthcoming perhaps by the end of the week. Steps must be taken in the correct order or it can present legal problems later in the process. The process will probably involve the filing of an I600 and 485 or I-130 and 485.
Air transportation of approved orphans is irregular and unpredictable. 14,000 US citizens and immediate relatives have been evacuated so far. No commercial flights to Haiti have resumed yet. Most planes have been humanitarian aid planes that have been able to return to Miami or stop over in Miami. Most days they have been able to schedule air transport. DHS and the Embassy are arranging this. Parents should not attempt to arrange it themselves. For individual cases not in orphanages, those children may be added to groups from orphanages with caregivers. Non US citizens and Haitian guardians may not exit as escorts with the children ( unless they have a valid US visa) Escorts will be arranged where necessary
Parents will be notified if possible when air transport has been arranged or upon arrival
Some highlights of Q and A-
Children will NOT receive a passport at the Embassy but rather a “travel document”
Fingerprints already on file with DHS can be “refreshed” by them. Parents should notify them if they have fingerprints already on file from a previous case as those may not be known to DHS unless informed. Send the info to HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov
Escorts for flights are arranged in Haiti.
The absence of a recent homestudy will not necessarily result in a determination of non-suitability for sponsorship. Parents should be prepared to demonstrate current suitability with income tax, employment and other records
If a child is currently with a care giver who must leave Haiti, they should be transferred to a UNICEF facility or other caregiver. They cannot leave before their cases is properly approved. Be sure to contact DHS to inform them of this.
Do not go to the embassy even if you are a parent in Haiti. Wait for your appointments. Walk- ins are not always able to get into the Embassy and are presenting problems,.
If a parent has not heard anything in a long time from DHS, they may send a status inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact DHS in the case of Humanitarian parole children who are considering leaving the country for any reason. They will need to request advance parole
There is an HHS fact sheet for parents at their website
For further info please see:
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.