Sunday, January 31, 2010

RESOURCE: INITIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL SCREENING FOR ORPHANED CHILDREN BEING EVACUATED FROM HAITI

The following are recommendations for psychological screenings for the Haiti adoptees before they leave Haiti and for the Haiti adoptees who have already arrived in their new country without a psychological screening.

All children in the throes of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti can be quickly and efficiently psychologically screened, as much as time allows, prior to their evacuation. This will provide invaluable, time sensitive information to those pre-adoptive parents awaiting these children in other countries.

Assessment data obtained prior to the evacuation should be viewed within the context of the child’s approximate chronological age as well as his/her overall cognitive ability. Obviously, given the dire circumstances of Haiti, a broad estimate might be needed.

In determining the current psychological and cognitive status of the distressed Haitian children about to be evacuated, the degree of the physical and emotional trauma each child has experienced should attempt to be ascertained. Specifically, factors to consider: the extent of the physical injury (body injuries and head injuries), the emotional trauma (loss of parents, siblings, relatives), as well as the child’s current overall functioning (is the child in a state of shock, under the effects of pain medication, and has he/she had the basic biological needs of food and water met?)

Any psychological assessment should take into consideration and note any significant culturally sensitive factors including the evaluator’s educational background, training, knowledge of the culture, and understanding of the language.

The psychological variables that ideally would be assessed for every Haitian child, within the context of the circumstances and transient state of the child, include: ability to understand questions, follow directions, and to be generally responsive; ability to speak, read, and write; long and short-term memory; insight and comprehension of what has happened especially to his/ her parents, siblings, extended family members, and friends; current and potential survival and coping skills (physical and mental); current fears and hopes; actual and perceived family support; future outlook; and his/her desire for, and understanding of, the pending departure from his/her country. Any overt signs of brain damage, mental deficiency, hallucinations or delusions should be noted.

Whenever young, intrinsically vulnerable children are subjected to sudden, unpredictable, unmanageable, overwhelming natural forces, such as happened to the Haitian children, immediate and long term profound psychological and emotional effects are to be expected. Generalized and specific symptoms of anxiety, phobias, depression, night terrors, eating problems, bed wetting, tactile defensiveness, hyper- vigilance and even aggression are common reactions traumatized children experience immediately and for years following the trauma. Of special consideration for Haitian children who are being abruptly evacuated to a foreign country to be cared for by unknown adults, is the realization that the children’s trust and faith that adults will be able to protect them from life’s uncertainty and physical harm, has been severely compromised if not destroyed. Future attachment and bonding to their awaiting adoptive parents will be directly correlated with the degree and depth of trust that they had with their Haitian family prior to their evacuation, as well as the extent and depth of the physical and emotional trauma they have experienced. A pre-evacuation psychological assessment will provide a crucial foundation of information upon which the long-term emotional healing process can begin.

For Children already evacuated and with no pre-evacuation psychological screening:

If a Haitian child has already been evacuated and there was no preliminary psychological screening conduced, it would be wise for the pre-adoptive/ adoptive parents to ask for a psychological evaluation at the time of their pediatric evaluation. A developmental assessment including a mental status evaluation can often be conducted by an experienced pediatrician or a referral can be made to a specialist such as a clinical psychologist, neuro-psychologist, or developmental psychologist.

It is very important for future treatment intervention that as much information as possible be obtained about the physical, emotional, and psychological condition of the children prior to, and immediately after, evacuation. Of course, any knowledge about the biological parents would be very helpful since genetics are powerful determinants on many variables including physical attributes, intelligence, unique abilities (artistic, athletics, creative, etc.), personality characteristics, and medical strengths and liabilities.

Finding a culturally-sensitive professional to help with an assessment can be difficult but not impossible. By making phone inquiries, Internet searches, and consultation with adoptive parents, experienced clinicians can be found. If a parent feels that some assessment findings did not sufficiently take into consideration a child’s cultural background, this should be noted and a second opinion sought. Consistent and frequent record keeping, written and video, will provide invaluable data that can be shared with other professionals now and as the child matures.

One final word of caution: With few exceptions, an “expert” can be found on every side of every issue. The antidote to a confusing barrage of conflicting “expert advice” are a well-informed, committed, and modestly skeptical parents who will never forego their own judgment, advocacy, or unconditional love for their children.

Lawrence B. Lennon, Ph.D., HSPP
Clinical Psychologist
Clinical Director










Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Saturday, January 30, 2010

USCIS Questions & Answers for Adoptions From Haiti


Questions & Answers: Information for U.S. Citizens in the process of adopting a child from Haiti


Introduction

On Jan. 12, 2010, Haiti experienced an earthquake of devastating proportions. This set of questions and answers provides information for United States citizens in the process of adopting a child from Haiti.

Questions and Answers

Q. I am in the process of adopting a child from Haiti, what can I do to bring the child to the United States?
A. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano has authorized the use of humanitarian parole for the following categories of orphans in Haiti:

Category 1 Cases

Description: Children being adopted by U.S. citizens prior to Jan. 12, 2010, who have been legally confirmed as orphans available for inter-country adoption by the Government of Haiti (GOH) through an adoption decree or custody grant to suitable U.S. citizen adoptive parents.

Required Criteria:

  • Evidence of availability for adoption MUST include at least one of the following:
    • Full and final Haitian adoption decree; or
    • GOH custody grant to prospective adoptive parents for emigration and adoption; or
    • Secondary evidence in place of the above.
  • Evidence of suitability MUST include one of the following:
    • Approved Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition; or
    • Current FBI fingerprints and security background check; or
    • Physical custody in Haiti plus a security background check.

Please note, some of the children in this category will receive immigrant visas and others will receive humanitarian parole, depending on the completeness of the cases. Those who enter with immigrant visas will enter as aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Those who enter with humanitarian parole will need to have their immigration status finalized after arrival through an application for adjustment of status.

Category 2 Cases

Description: Children who have been identified by an adoption service provider or facilitator as eligible for intercountry adoption, were matched to prospective American adoptive parents prior to Jan. 12, 2010 and meet the below criteria.

Required Criteria:

  • Significant evidence of a relationship between the prospective adoptive parents and the child; AND of the parents' intention to complete the adoption, which could include the following:
    • Proof of travel by the prospective adoptive parents to Haiti to visit the child;
    • Photos of the child and prospective adoptive parents together;
    • An Adoption Service Provider (ASP) "Acceptance of Referral" letter signed by the prospective adoptive parents;
    • Documentary evidence that the prospective adoptive parents initiated the adoption process prior to Jan. 12, 2010, with intent to adopt the child (filed Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, and/or Form I-600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative, completed a home study, located an ASP to work with in Haiti, etc.).
  • Evidence of the child's availability for adoption, which would include the following:
    • IBESR (Haitian Adoption Authority) approval;
    • Documentation of legal relinquishment or award of custody to the Haitian orphanage;
    • Secondary evidence in place of the above.
  • Evidence of suitability MUST include one of the following:
    • Approved Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition; or
    • Current FBI fingerprints and security background check.

If the child you have adopted or are adopting meets these criteria, please send U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) detailed information about the adoption case at HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov. This e-mail address is dedicated to collecting information about adoption cases still pending in Haiti. Please include the name of the prospective adoptive parent in the subject line of the e-mail. Once we have your information, we will contact you with further information.

Q. If parole is authorized, how will my child get out of Haiti?
A. The Consular Section and USCIS Office is coordinating the arrival of children at the Embassy so that they are able to arrive safely. We urge families not to make individidual arrangements and to assist us in coordinating with the ophanages on the ground. Orphanage directors should wait to receive instructions either from the Embassy or USCIS Headquarters in Washington before taking their group of children to the Embassy for processing. Individuals or groups that appear at the Embassy without prior coordination may be turned away.

Q. If humanitarian parole is authorized, may I travel to pick up a specific child?
A. The Department of State (DOS) Travel Warning, urges U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Haiti. Communications and transportation in Haiti is extremely limited and nearly all available resources are dedicated to the immediate search and rescue of Haitians. Updates to the DOS travel warnings for Haiti are available online at http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_4632.html.

Once a child receives a visa or is authorized for humanitarian parole, we encourage you to work with your U.S. adoption agency and the orphanage staff in Haiti to identify an escort to bring the child to the United States.

Q. Many documents were destroyed in the earthquake. What kind of secondary evidence can be submitted in the place of primary documents?
A. Secondary evidence may include, but is not limited to, copies of records or correspondence referring to the existence of the destroyed or missing document, as maintained by an Adoption Service Provider or the prospective adoptive family, as well as affidavits of individuals with knowledge of the document or event.

Q. I am a prospective adoptive parent in the process of adopting a child in Haiti, but the adoption was not finalized prior to the earthquake. If DHS authorizes humanitarian parole for a child who was not legally adopted in Haiti, how will I obtain the legal authority to take the child into my home?
A: If you received an order from the Government of Haiti granting custody of the child to you, then the child may be paroled into your custody upon verification of the order, your identity and that of the child after the child's arrival in the United States.

If you have not received a formal order granting you custody from the Government of Haiti, then the child may be placed in your care but some additional procedures must be followed. These procedures are intended to protect children and ensure that those without final adoptions are placed with families that are able to care for them. These additional procedures may take a little time, but they are critical for keeping children safe. Children who cannot be placed with prospective adoptive parents will be well cared for. ORR has contracts with organizations around the country to care for unaccompanied children who are not U.S. citizens.

Whether you become a sponsor or not, you will need to adopt the child under the adoption laws of your place of residence in order for the child to acquire permanent residence in the United States.

Q. How do I request Humanitarian Parole for the child I am in the process of adopting?
A. If you want to request humanitarian parole for a specific child you are in the process of adopting from Haiti, please send the request to HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov. Please include the name of the prospective adoptive parent in the subject line of the e-mail. You do not need to file Form I-131 or submit a fee for these cases.

Q. I am a prospective adoptive parent in the process of adopting a child from Haiti. What should I do if my Fingerprint Clearance has expired?
A. USCIS will review each prospective adoptive parent's request for humanitarian parole on a case-by-case basis. If we determine that your fingerprint clearance(s) has expired, you do not need to take any action. USCIS will electronically rerun your prints. (Please do not send a request for updated fingerprint to HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov.) If you have not been fingerprinted by USCIS at any stage of your adoption process, please send an e-mail message to HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov and we will arrange a fingerprint appointment for you. Please include "FP Request" in the subject line of the e-mail.

Q. Is there any other way I can help orphans in Haiti?
A. We understand that some Americans want to respond by offering to open their homes. We certainly appreciate this generous impulse, but note that it can be extremely difficult to determine whether children are truly orphans. Children may be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members, and their parents or other relatives may be looking for them. In the first instance, we believe it is most important to focus on re-uniting separated children with their relatives. Some individuals may wish to assist by contributing to a reputable relief or humanitarian organization working in that country. More information can be found at the following Web sites linked on the right:

  • Department of State
  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
  • Interaction
http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=8f712d86a8756210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=9cf75869c9326210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Friday, January 29, 2010

Why PEAR does not support new adoption cases or airlifts of children from Haiti at this time:

This week, a member of PEAR, Julia Rollings, spoke eloquently of the reasons why international relocation and adoption of Haitian children is not appropriate at this time: http://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/video/play/-/6725923/haitis-orphans/#fop

While many US citizens are moved by the sight of children in distress and feel the need to press the US government toward adoption or massive airlifts of children, we must remember that these are not our children, Haiti is not under the authority of the United States nor subject to the desires and demands of US politicians and NGOs. As the countries affected by the 2004 tsunami were afforded the right to determine how their people would rebuild their lives and their country by offering and accepting support and resources in their own countries, Haiti should be afforded the same sovereign right. It is Haiti, not the US or any other foreign government or NGO, who has the right and responsibility to care for its children and make the decisions in their children's best interests.

We recommend that the Guidelines for Alternative Care of Children published by ISS this past fall be consulted for excellent child care policies in emergency situations: http://www.crin.org/bcn/initiatives.asp. Although the guidelines have not been formally adopted, they offer excellent advice and counsel. The ISS provisions for the care of children in emergencies include the following excerpts:

"In such circumstances, the State or de facto authorities in the region concerned, the international community and all local, national, foreign and international agencies providing or intending to provide child-focused services should pay special attention:
(a) To ensure that all entities and persons involved in responding to unaccompanied or separated children are sufficiently experienced, trained, resourceful and equipped to do so in an appropriate manner;
(b) To develop, as necessary, temporary and long-term family-based care;
(c) To use residential care only as a temporary measure until family-based care can be developed;
(d) To prohibit the establishment of new residential facilities structured to provide simultaneous care to large groups of children on a permanent or long-term basis;
(e) To prevent the cross-border displacement of children, except under the circumstances described in paragraph 159 below;
(f) To make cooperation with family tracing and reintegration efforts mandatory.

Paragraph 159 states:
"Children in emergency situations should not be moved to a country other than that of their habitual residence for alternative care except temporarily for compelling health, medical or safety reasons. In that case, this should be as close as possible to their home, they should be accompanied by a parent or caregiver known to the child, and a clear return plan should be established."

PEAR supports the temporary relocation with a clear repatriation plan of Haitian children on a case by case, individual basis if, and only if, approved by the Haitian government for purposes of receiving medical attention that cannot be provided currently in Haiti. We also support policies and procedures that would reunite Haitian children with their relatives living abroad if this is determined to be in the best interest of the child. We do not support wholesale relocation of children to foreign countries on a temporary or permanent basis when care and protection can be provided in Haiti by the Haitian government and its people with assistance of funding, supplies and hands provided by foreign and international NGOs and governments.

Adoption is not an emergency procedure. Airlifting children after a crisis to a different culture is not in the best interest of the children. It was not considered in the 2004 tsunami, so why has this become a daily crusade for local groups, churches, NGOs and government officials?

The executive branch of the US government has spoken clearly through DOS and USCIS that it is best to reunify the family. This position is clearly preferred and supported by numerous national and international child welfare organizations. We call on the legislative branch to support that decision and place their focus on the exploration of ways in which the US can respond to the needs of the Haitian people. This includes providing legal, medical and therapeutic assistance to the children who have been granted humanitarian parole to the US. We also call on members of Congress to act with caution and responsibility and avoid hastily passing undebated sweeping global child welfare reform called Family For Orphans Act (FFOA) during this Haiti crisis.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

DOS Updates and Information for Haiti Cases In Process


DOS has added a new page to the adoption.state. gov web page for parents who were in the process of adopting a Haitian orphan prior to the January 12 earthquake. The new page also has important links to other U.S. Government agencies working together on this important issue.

The new link may be viewed at http://adoption. state.gov/ news/parents_ with_pending_ haitian_adoption _cases.html


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

CDC Interim Recommendations for Initial Domestic Medical Screening of Haitian Orphans


Updated with CDC link (February 1)


CDC released Interim Recommendations for Initial Domestic Medical Screening of Haitian Orphan on January 25, 2010.

These recommendations are targeted for US medical providers evaluating orphaned children being evacuated from Haiti because Haitian orphans entering the United States under parole status have been allowed to bypass the normal overseas medical screening examination. The full text of the CDC Recommendations is 6 pages in length.

Here are two excerpts:

“This medical screening should be performed as soon as possible after arrival and consist of a general medical screening, as well as screening for tuberculosis (TB), vaccination status, intestinal parasites, malaria, malnutrition, and HIV. A subsequent more comprehensive medical evaluation is recommended in accordance with the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines on the Medical Evaluation of 2 Internationally Adopted Children for Infectious Diseases. (Red Book®: 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases - 28th Ed. (2009) Although these examinations may be performed together, the immediate screening described in this document should not be delayed to accommodate the comprehensive examination.

*INITIAL MEDICAL SCREEING*

All orphans should have a medical history (if known) and physical examination. Components of the medical history should include:

  • History of trauma;
  • Symptoms of communicable disease (i.e. fever, coryza, cough, rash, diarrhea, vomiting);
  • Past medical and surgical history including any known chronic diseases;
  • Specific history of TB and HIV should be solicited;
  • Medication history.
Components of the physical examination should include:
  • Vital signs and assessment of hydration status
  • Height, weight, head circumference (if age appropriate)
  • Obvious injuries that may have resulted from trauma
  • A full physical examination with particular attention paid to signs that may indicate underlying medical problems such as heart disease, asthma, chronic malaria (e.g. tachycardia, heart murmurs, labored respirations, abdominal tenderness) or undetected but subtle injury from trauma (e.g. splenic rupture).
  • Assessment of nutritional status (looking for signs of malnutrition)
  • If fever is present, there should be a high clinical suspicion of malaria, dengue fever, and typhoid. Consideration should also be given to detecting clinical conditions requiring isolation (i.e. typhoid, tuberculosis, measles or chickenpox). Optimally, evaluation should be performed in consultation with an expert in infectious diseases or tropical medicine.
Orphans with known chronic medical conditions (e.g. asthma, congenital cardiac conditions, seizure disorders) should be carefully evaluated and treated, particularly since previous therapy may have been disrupted. Orphans with known chronic cardiac and respiratory disease should have vital signs assessed including oxygen saturation (portable oximeter) as soon as possible. Orphans with diabetes should have a glucose measurement as soon as possible.”

“…it is strongly recommended to have a comprehensive medical history and physical examination once they arrive at their final destination to evaluate other medical and developmental issues in the child, including hearing and vision assessment, evaluation of growth and development, blood lead concentration, complete blood cell count with red blood cell indices, newborn screening and/or measurement of thyroid-stimulating hormone concentration, and examination for congenital anomalies (including fetal alcohol syndrome). (Red Book®: 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases - 28th Ed. (2009)."

Specifically PTSD is common after surviving natural disasters. The National Center for PTSD aims to help U.S. Veterans and others through research, education, and training on trauma and PTSD. They have prepared helpful resources for survivors (including children). Please consult http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/helping-survivors-after-disaster.asp

PEAR recommends handing the provider summary on PTSD http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/handouts-pdf/Reactions.pdf to your health care providers during the screening of your child as well as the full CDC letter found here: http://www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/exams/recommendations-domestic-medical-screening-haitian-orphan.html

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Important Information from Haiti Stakeholders Conference Call

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.

Category Classifications

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.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

HAiti: Information for PAPs and APs - What to expect when the child arrives in the US

Below is the text of an information sheet currently available through DHS for families adopting from Haiti post-earthquake. PEAR received this informational sheet from a few adopting families and one adoption service provider. We have confirmed that is was sent to adopting families along with the invitation to participate in today' s conference call.

Information for Prospective Adoptive Parents Who Have Been Matched to
Children in Haiti and Whose Prospective Adoptive Children Are Being
Granted Humanitarian Parole

"When the child you are planning to adopt arrives in the United States, he or she will be met by federal immigration officials. If the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) determines that you are the legal guardian of the child, as would be the case if a court has issued you a final adoption decree, then she or he will be released to you once we have verified all of the parties' identities and statuses.

If DHS does not make such a determination, then the child cannot automatically or immediately be released to you. However, as described below, prospective adoptive parents can request that such children be released into their care.

Process for Applying to Have a Child Released to Your Care

Children who are coming from Haiti who have been matched with an adoptive family but who do not yet have legal guardians are placed in the custody of the Federal government, and are the responsibility of the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

As a prospective adoptive parent, you may request that the child you plan to adopt be released from ORR to your care as a "sponsor." You would serve as a temporary custodian for the child while your adoption application process is finalized.

You will be asked to complete a "Family Reunification Packet" found at:
"http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr" www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/orr (look on the right under “What’s New”). If you are unable to download the documents, you can request them from HHS staff (or staff of private service providers under contract with HHS) who will be available at the airport when the flight arrives in most cases. In most cases, you will complete the paperwork at the airport.

You may also contact ORR at 202-441-7748 to request the documents or to ask any questions you may have.

ORR will review information in your adoption file to ensure that a criminal background check, fingerprints, and home study have been completed and to verify that you have been matched to this particular child. To ensure the process runs smoothly at the airport, we encourage you to bring these materials and other information related to your adoption with you.

We expect that most prospective adoptive parents will be approved as sponsors within a day or so of the child arriving in the United States, though many factors can affect how quickly the process can be completed. If you, as the prospective adoptive parent, are approved for temporary custody, then the child can be released to you. ORR cannot release the child to you, however, until this process is complete. If any issue arises that causes a delay in this process, please be assured that your child will be well cared for under ORR supervision at an organization skilled in providing temporary care for children, and that barring any exceptional safety concerns, you will be able to visit the child at that location.

We understand that you are anxious to be united with the child whom you intend to adopt. Please understand that these procedures are critical safeguards to ensure that children whose adoptions are not yet finalized, and who do not yet have legal guardians, are being placed in homes that are prepared to care for them in the meantime. We will do everything we can to make this process go as quickly and smoothly as possible, and appreciate your patience. "




Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

USCIS invitation to a teleconference on Haitian adoptions

The US Department of Homeland Security in conjunction with the USCIS will be holding a conference call today at 10:30 est for adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents of children from Haiti. The call will cover topics ranging from the process for visa applications to the steps families will need to take on down the road. Members of DOS, DHS, DHHS and USCIS will be on hand to answer questions from parents and prospective parents.

If you are a prospective or adoptive parent of a child from Haiti and have not received an invitation to the conference call, please feel free to contact PEAR. To help ensure that families have the best opportunity to fully participate and raise questions, we are not publishing the call number and passcode at this time, but will make it available to families upon request. To request this information, please email PEAR at: reform@pear-now.org


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Two Very Important Notices for Prospective and Adoptive Families with Children from HAiti

In the wake of conditions in Haiti, many families are understandably concerned with getting their children home as quickly and efficiently as possible. PEAR has become aware that families are being given some advice that is causing delays and concerns for those attempting to bring your children home. We have consulted with DHS to get proper advice to families in process. In order to ensure the most timely and effective processing of adopted children from Haiti, prospective and adoptive parents need to be aware of the following:

1. Do not attempt to bring your child or have your child escorted to the US Embassy until you have received word from DHS that your child's application for immigration or humanitarian parole has been approved AND you have been in contact with DHS concerning how and when your child will arrive at the Embassy. Bringing children to the embassy prior to a determination or without the fore knowledge of the Embassy may be placing your child and his or her caretaker at risk. Conditions around the Embassy are chaotic and unsafe for children. In addition, the time that Embassy personnel takes to deal with unexpected children is less time they have to process applications. In the first few week post-earthquake, the Embassy had only one person able to process applications and it was understandably frustrating and stressful for families. However, the Embassy is now working with additional staff and families are being notified about their applications for immigration visas and humanitarian parole.

2. Do not attempt to bypass or impede UNICEF's work of document verification at the airport in Port au Prince. UNICEF is carefully checking the documents of all minors at the PaP airport to ensure that children are leaving the country legally and appropriately. Despite rumors to the contrary, UNICEF is not attempting to interfere or impede with the departure of children with legitimate immigration visas or humanitarian parole visas. UNICEF is safeguarding Haitian children from exploitation and trafficking by providing document checking services with the cooperation and full agreement of the Haitian and US governments as well as many foreign governments receiving children from Haiti. Attempts to bypass or impede the document check may result in delays and stricter processes. Please place the welfare of all Haitian children first, a few moments of inconvenience may protect Haitian children from landing in the hands of child predators and traffickers.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Friday, January 22, 2010

DOS Adoption Message: Children Affected by the earthquake in Haiti

Children Affected by the earthquake in Haiti

January 22, 2010


Haitian Children and the January 12 Earthquake

The Department of State is receiving inquiries from American citizens deeply touched by the plight of children in Haiti in the aftermath of the January 12 earthquake.

As Secretary of State Clinton said on January 20, “Children are especially vulnerable in any disaster, especially those without parents or other guardians to look after them. This devastating earthquake has left many in need of assistance, and their welfare is of paramount concern as we move forward with our rescue and relief efforts.”

Together with the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department is processing and evacuating as quickly as possible those orphans who were identified for adoption by American citizens before the earthquake.

We understand that other Americans, moved by images of children in need, want to open their homes and adopt other Haitian children who had not been identified for adoption before the earthquake. The State Department advises against this course of action at this time. Intercountry adoption involves strict safeguards and legal requirements that must be met to protect children from illegal adoptions, abduction, sale and child-trafficking as well as to ensure that any adoption is in the best interests of the child.

Before a child can be legally taken to the United States for adoption, the Governments of both the United States and the child’s country of origin must first determine that the child is indeed an orphan. It can be extremely difficult during the aftermath of a natural disaster to ascertain whether children who appear to be orphans truly are eligible for adoption. Children may be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members, and their parents or family members may be looking for them. Moreover, it is not uncommon in an emergency or unsettled situation for parents to send their children out of the area, or for families to become separated during an evacuation. Efforts to reunite such children with relatives or extended family should be given priority.

In addition, some children who had been residing in orphanages before the earthquake were placed there temporarily by parents who could not care for them. In most of these cases the parents did not intend to permanently give up their parental rights. Even when it can be demonstrated that children have indeed lost their parents or have been abandoned, reunification with other relatives in the extended family should be the first option.

During times of crisis, it can also be exceptionally difficult to fulfill the legal requirements for adoption of both the United States and the child's country of origin. This is especially true when civil authority breaks down or temporarily ceases to function. It can also be difficult to gather documents necessary to fulfill the legal requirements of U.S. immigration law.

The United States is cooperating directly with UNICEF and other relief organizations in Haiti to deliver needed supplies to Haiti’s orphanages and to provide assistance to other unaccompanied children. UNICEF is starting the process of registering unaccompanied children and will seek to unite children with relatives.

There are many ways in which U.S. citizens can help the children of Haiti now. For example, individuals who wish to assist can make a financial contribution to a reputable relief or humanitarian organization working in that country.


More Information:

http://adoption.state.gov/news/children_affected_by_natural_disasters_conflict.html

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Thursday, January 21, 2010

HAITI UPDATE: IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR PROSPECTIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS:

HAITI UPDATE: IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR PROSPECTIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS:

Today the Depatment of State, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Health and Human Services held a conference call and meeting with stakeholders in Haitian adoptions. The meeting covered several important topics in adoptions from Haiti which are directed at adoptive and prospective adoptive parents:

Stage 1. Registering your adoption for Category 1 or Category 2 consideration for Humanitarian Parole and awaiting determination:
The US Embassy in Haiti has been working diligently at processing adoption cases since the earthquake. Up until yesterday, the work was being done by one officer. He has been joined by a second officer and 165 cases have been processed as of this morning. More officers will be arriving in the next day or two and DHS estimates that all pending adoption cases qualifying for Category 1 or Category 2 will processed within the next three weeks, with majority being processed sooner rather than later. Evacuation of US Citizens and orphans in process of adoption by US Citizens is the number one priority of the Embassy at this time.
What to do if you have not yet registered your adoption:
*Adopting parents are requested to contact DHS at HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov using the following information in the header of their email: PAPs full names, birthdates, child's full name, birth date and orphanage. This will receive the quickest attention of DHS officers.
* Please provide DHS with as much information about your adoption as you can. The requested information can be found at our previous blog post or at the USCIS website
* If you are in doubt that your adoption qualifies, send your information anyway and DHS will try to make a determination for you based on whatever information you are able to provide.
* If you have been referred more than one child, please send separate information and separate emails for each child to help speed the process.

What to do if you have already registered your adoption with DHS
* Families and individuals who have already provided the above information should be hearing from DHS starting this afternoon (January 21, 2010) and continuing into the weekend concerning the status of your case and asking for any additional information they feel is necessary to make a determination as to whether your adoption qualifies under Category 1 or Category 2.
* You may continue to contact DHS using the HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov email address. Please include your last name, birthdate and your child's name, birthdate and orphanage in the header of any email you send (cases are being filed by your last name and it makes the process easier and faster if DHS employees can see this in the header).
* Please do NOT have anyone bring your children to the Embassy if you have not heard from DHS that a positive determination has been made. This is slowing down the process for everyone and placing the children and caretakers in an unsafe situation. DHS will only allow those with a positive determination into the Embassy.

Stage 2: DHS has made a positive determination that your adoption qualifies under Category 1 or Category 2
* DHS will be contacting PAPs as soon as a determination is made.
* If you need to contact DHS for any reason concerning your adoption, use the HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov email address and be sure to include your last name, birthdate and child's name, birthdate and orphanage in the header of the email.
* Make arrangements to visit the Embassy through DHS and your orphanage or other entity or person who will escort your child to the Embassy. Be sure that DHS knows when your child will be arriving in order to secure entry to the Embassy.
* If you need help arranging transportation for your child to the US let the Embassy know. They will assist PAPs with arrangements. If a child will be transported on Military aircraft, PAPs will be billed for transport at the rate of a one way commercial airline ticket as of January 12, 2010. Many organizations are willing to provide transportation on return delivery flights, and some private and commercial airlines are offering assistance. PEAR is hoping to coordinate information on flight possibilities and sponsorships, so please check with us if you need to find transportation.

Stage 3: Receiving your child.
* Children arriving into the US on IR3 visas will be placed into the custody of their adoptive parents upon arrival. If you have made travel arrangements, please let DHS know where and when your child is arriving so that a procedure can be set up for transferring custody. Use the HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov email address to provide DHS with all of your travel information. If you are using Military or DHS provided transportation, DHS will keep you informed of the flight information and proper procedure for picking up your child.
* Children arriving into the US on Humanitarian Parole visas will be under the custody and jurisdiction of the Department of Health and Human Services. Prospective adoptive parents will need to prove that they can act as a sponsor for the child. This requires proof of suitability. DHHS and DHS are currently working on a process to have the USCIS homestudy forwarded to DHHS, but this process is not yet set up, so remember to bring as much information with you as possible including your homestudy, photo identification, and as much of your dossier as you might have available.
* Children who arrive and do not have prospective parents immediately available or for whom DHHS needs to gather further sponsorship information will be placed in the care and custody of DHHS Office of Refugee Resettlement. Children will be placed in temporary care under current protocols and procedures set up by DHHS ORR and will be safe and well cared for. The goal of DHHS is to have prospective adoptive families and children united as swiftly as possible.

Prospective Adoptive Parents with further questions are encouraged to contact PEAR at any time. We will attempt to answer your questions or put you in touch with the people who can best assist you.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

HAITI RUMOR CONTROL: Need for Foster Care

In the past few days PEAR has become aware of an increase in organizations and individuals requesting to foster children coming to the US on Humanitarian Parole from Haiti. Some organizations are fundraising and putting much effort into preparing to foster Haitian children. The situation that we blogged about about in Indiana yesterday is a prime example.

It is hard to look at the situation in Haiti and not remember how each state generously took in displaced families after Hurricane Katrina. While it is understandable that many local groups and governments have begun to think about Haiti and its orphans in this manner, under the current Humanitarian Parole guidelines for Haitian children, it is highly unlikely that children coming to the US will be in need of foster homes.

There are two categories of children listed in the guidelines published January 18. Most of the children in Category 1 will be coming to their adoptive parents on Immigrant adoption visas. The remainder of Category 1 and Category 2 children will travel on Humanitarian Parole visas and will be going to their waiting adoptive families as well. While it may be likely that these children will need temporary "foster" care of a day or two while they wait for their adopting family to pick them up, long term care or foster care to adoption placements will be extremely rare. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) already has a protocol and procedure in place to safely care for the children awaiting the arrival and sponsorship clearance of their adopting families.

The situation in Pennsylvania where Governor Rendell arranged to bring 7 children to Pennsylvania who had not been legally relinquished by their families and had not yet been referred to an adoptive family is extremely rare and not within the guidelines. Organizations and individuals should not rely on this case as a basis to believe this will happen again.

Currently in Haiti there are many NGOs working on providing care to orphaned and displaced children, searching for and reuniting families, providing shelter, food, clothing, and trauma counseling for children. According to information provided by the DOS, DHS and DHHS today, UNICEF is coordinating efforts to provide safe locations for all displaced and orphaned children in Haiti. It would be best for these children and organizations if efforts were directed to assist in providing for the needs of displaced and orphaned children in Haiti.

Individuals and organizations looking to help can read about efforts at the following organizations:

UNICEF, Haiti: proving children in Port au Prince with clean water, food, medicine, shelter, and protection. Identifying displaced children and providing a place where they can get support and can be reunited with family who may be desperately looking for them. More information, please click here: UNICEF

Save the Children, Haiti: The agency, with offices in Port-au-Prince, is racing to provide immediate lifesaving assistance, such as food, water, shelter and Child Friendly Spaces. They are now teaming up with UNICEF to better achieve their joint goals. More information please click here: STC

SOS Childrens Villages, Haiti: The emergency relief program of SOS Children's Villages in Haiti includes the following actions: Relief supplies for children and families(food, medicine clothing, shelter material etc.);Temporary care for unaccompanied children in our two SOS Children's Villages in Santo and Cap Haitien and other SOS facilities e.g. the SOS School in Santo; Psychosocial support for traumatised children and their families; Reunification programmes for unaccompanied children; Help families rebuild their houses and their lives with comprehensive social programmes (counselling, vocational training, income generating etc.); Help communities rebuild infrastructure e.g. schools. More informationplease click here: SOS

For individuals and organizations looking for a way to assist families in the process of bringing home children, please consider assisting with flights to Miami for both adoptive families and their children. Anyone wishing to provide transportation for children out of Haiti or for prospective adoptive parents into Miami, please contact PEAR and we will post your information on our blog (use email address: reform@pear-now.org).

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

RESOURCE: Double Traumatized Children from Haiti

We are passing on the link to this discussion for all families who are adopting children from Haiti after the earthquake. PEAR strongly advocates pre-adoption education and post adoption support in all adoptions. The issue of trauma is important in developing attachment, understanding the implications of trauma on the developing child should be a basic requirement for adoption parenting. We encourage all families currently bringing and attempting to bring home children from Haiti to participate in this discussion, take from it what you will.

Date: Thu, 21 Jan 2010 03:10:20 -0500
From: info@beyondconsequences.com
To: rmprhp@yahoo.com
Subject: Double Traumatized Children from Haiti

Hi Regina,
In response to the crisis in Haiti, you're invited to listen to a special audio interview. I invited my colleague, Dr. Ronald Federici, to join me in this discussion in order to provide a much needed resource for parents bringing children home from this disastrous situation.

These orphans have literally experienced double trauma. We want every parent bringing home their children to be prepared with the knowledge and resources they need to make their adoptions as smooth and successful as possible.

Simply click here to listen in on this discussion:

http://www.beyondconsequences.com/asktheexpert/haiti

Please help by passing this link along to any Internet support groups with whom you are connected, through Facebook, Twitter, and any other places that will reach adoptive parents.

Press on,

Heather



Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Secretary of State Clinton Gives Update on Developments in Haiti

Secretary Hillary Clinton along with Michele Bond from the Department of State, Sharon Parrott from the Department of Health and Human Services, and Lauren Kielsmeier from the Department of Homeland Security give updates and answer questions about developments in Haiti, including the status on orphans.

Transcript and video are available here: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2010/01/135461.htm


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

No Airlift of Haiti orphans to Indiana

On Wednesday January 20, word began to spread in the Indianapolis area that possibly 300 children would be airlifted from Haiti to Indiana to foster homes and 75 families were listed as interested in adopting the children according to this blog: http://safefamilieshaiti.blogspot.com/

This blog further stated “DCS in Indianapolis is working with 3 orphanages on the ground in Haiti. Republic airlines is trying to transport the children out of the country.”

Subsequent to PEAR’s call to the Indiana DCS Ombudsman office in which we were informed that no children were to be slated to be airlifted to Indiana, they released the following statement: http://www.in.gov/dcs/

"DCS Statement about Haitian children
Rumors are circulating today that orphaned children from Haiti are headed to Indiana. These rumors are not true.

As the terrible news from Haiti became known, Governor Daniels directed the Department of Child Services to learn more about how the state might assist. Meanwhile, indications of interest have come from good-hearted Hoosiers offering to help.

It is far from clear that any more children will be permitted to leave Haiti. Approval from both the United States and Haiti governments would be necessary.

When there is additional information to share, we will provide it. For today, we want to address the growing rumor: There are no Haitian children headed to Indiana nor are any arrivals imminent."

Only children in the adoption process prior to the earthquake that have been granted immigration visas or humanitarian parole will be allowed into the US.

We ask that the general public, all organizations, churches and local governments heed the information coming out of the Department of State at http://www.adoption.state.gov/ and defer to Secretary Janet Napolitano’s statement http://pear-now.blogspot.com/2010/01/update-secretary-napolitano-announces.html in matters related to children entering the US from Haiti.

Reputable adoption agencies are not accepting applicants at this time and anyone claiming to be bringing large numbers of children to the US is not being truthful.

The radio show Creating a Family http://www.creatingafamily.org/index.php had guests from USCIS and DOS today who explained that children are being placed on planes by embassy personnel and sent to the US on aircraft returning from Humanitarian aid missions. The airline, Republic Airways, local to Indiana supplied the plane for humanitarian aid that eventually airlifted 53 children from Haiti to Florida and then to Pittsburgh. http://www.travelpulse.com/Resources/Editorial.aspx?n=66188

Children without identified parents should not be coming to the US despite the actions of Governor Rendell of PA.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

UNICEF's Statement on the situation of children in Haiti

PEAR is in full agreement with UNICEF's statement below:

Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman on the situation of children in Haiti

NEW YORK, 19 January 2010 - We are extremely concerned about the situation of children in Haiti, many of whom have become separated from their families and caregivers. These children face increased risks of malnutrition and disease, trafficking, sexual exploitation and serious emotional trauma. The race to provide them with life-saving emergency food and medicine, safe shelter, protection, and care is underway.

UNICEF and its partners, including the Haitian Government, the Red Cross and Save the Children, are establishing safe spaces for children and the process of registering unaccompanied children has commenced.

UNICEF and partners are also providing food and supplies for orphanages in Port-au-Prince.

Every effort will be made to reunite children with their families. Only if that proves impossible, and after proper screening has been carried out, should permanent alternatives like adoption be considered by the relevant authorities. Screening for international adoption for some Haitian children had been completed prior to the earthquake. Where this is the case, there are clear benefits to speeding up their travel to their new homes.

UNICEF joins with the Committee on the Rights of the Child, International Social Service and other concerned groups in calling on all those involved in relief efforts to ensure that they act in the best interests of children. What is needed now is life saving support and care for children in Haiti.

For more information, please contact:
Christopher de Bono, UNICEF Media, New York,
Tel + 1 212 303 7984,
E-mail: cdebono@unicef.org

Patrick McCormick, UNICEF Media, New York,
Tel + 1 212-326-7426,
E-mail: pmccormick@unicef.org


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Monday, January 18, 2010

UPDATE: Secretary Napolitano Announces Humanitarian Parole Policy for Certain Haitian Orphans

SECRETARY NAPOLITANO ANNOUNCES HUMANITARIAN PAROLE POLICY FOR CERTAIN HAITIAN ORPHANS


On Jan. 18, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, in coordination with the U.S. Department of State (DOS), today announced a humanitarian parole policy allowing orphaned children from Haiti to enter the United States temporarily on an individual basis to ensure that they receive the care they need—as part of the U.S. government’s ongoing support of international recovery efforts after last week’s earthquake.

DHS and DOS are working together to issue travel documents (either immigrant visas or humanitarian parole authorizations) for children who fall into the two categories described below. Once these children are cleared to travel, the U.S. Embassy in Port au Prince will facilitate their evacuation to the United States so they may be united with their American adoptive parents.

Under applicable laws, unaccompanied minors entering the country without a parent or legal guardian will be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement.

All cases will be evaluated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Depending on their circumstances, and information available some children will receive immigrant visas with permanent immigration status and will require no further processing. Those who enter under humanitarian parole status will need to have their immigration status resolved after arrival.

Eligibility for Humanitarian Parole

Category 1
Children who have been legally confirmed as orphans eligible for intercountry adoption by the Government of Haiti, were in the process of being adopted by Americans prior to Jan. 12, 2010 and meet the below criteria.

Required Criteria
Evidence of availability for adoption, which MUST include at least one of the following:
* Full and final Haitian adoption decree
* Government of Haiti Custody grant to prospective adoptive parents for emigration and adoption
* Secondary evidence in lieu of the above.

Evidence of suitability for adoption, which MUST include at least one of the following:
* Notice of Approval of Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition
* Current FBI Fingerprints and background security check clearances
* Physical custody in Haiti plus a security background check

Category 2
Children who have been identified by an adoption service provider or facilitator as eligible for intercountry adoption, were matched to prospective American adoptive parents prior to Jan. 12, 2010 and meet the below criteria.

Required Criteria
Significant evidence of a relationship between the prospective adoptive parents and the child AND of the parents’ intention to complete the adoption, which could include the following:
* Proof of travel by the prospective adoptive parents to Haiti to visit the child
* Photos of the child and prospective adoptive parents together
* An Adoption Service Provider “Acceptance of Referral” letter signed by the prospective adoptive parents
* Documentary evidence that the prospective adoptive parents initiated the adoption process prior to Jan. 12, 2010 with intent to adopt the child (filed Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, and/or Form I-600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative, completed a home study, located an ASP to work with in Haiti, etc.)

Evidence of the child’s availability for adoption, which could the following:
* IBESR (Haitian Adoption Authority) approval
* Documentation of legal relinquishment or award of custody to the Haitian orphanage
* Secondary evidence in lieu of the above

Evidence of suitability for adoption, which MUST include at least one of the following:
* Notice of Approval of Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition; OR
* Current FBI Fingerprints and background security check clearances

Other Orphaned or Separated Children
Given the severity of the disaster in Haiti, we understand that there are additional children that have been orphaned and/or separated from relatives and may also be in varying stages of the adoption process. DHS and the U.S. Department of State continue to evaluate additional eligibility criteria and will provide additional information as soon as it is available.

USCIS encourages U.S. citizens with pending adoption cases in Haiti to send us detailed information about their cases to HaitianAdoptions@dhs.gov

Please visit the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov and the U.S. Department of State website at www.adoption.state.gov/ for more information and updates.

- USCIS -



Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

DHS and USCIS Document Request for Pending Haitian Adoption Cases

January 18, 2009


Document Request for Pending Haitian Adoption Cases:

DHS’ U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has set up a special e-mail box Haitianadoptions@dhs.gov to receive scanned documentation on pending Haitian adoptee orphans. If you have already sent documentation to askci@state.gov , it will be forwarded to USCIS on your behalf.

USCIS requests that all communications from prospective adoptive parents and adoption service providers should be formatted as follows:

  • Subject line: LAST NAME, First name of the adopting parent, and USCIS case number and NVC case number, if available
  • If you are adopting more than one child, please send separate e-mails for each child
  • Include the name, DOB, gender of the child, and the current location of the child in Haiti
  • Include any contact information for the child’s current whereabouts
  • Please include a recent photograph of the child
  • Attachments: please limit attachments to 10 megabytes per e-mail message. If necessary, split your communication into more than one message, and indicate in the subject line the total number of e-mails and the message number (i.e. “1 of 2”)

The following case documents may be useful to USCIS;

  • Full and final Haitian adoption decree
  • GOH Custody grant to prospective adoptive parents for emigration and adoption OR
  • Secondary evidence of either of the adoption or custody decree
  • Proof of travel by the prospective adoptive parents to Haiti to visit the child
  • Photos of the child and prospective adoptive parents together
  • ASP “Acceptance of Referral” letter signed by the prospective adoptive parents
  • IBESR approval
  • Legal relinquishment or award of custody to the Haitian orphanage
  • Secondary evidence of the above (e.g. e-mail correspondence, copies, ASP correspondence).
http://adoption.state.gov/news/Haiti.html

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Update on Our "Haiti Updates"

We understand that some people are having difficulty finding our Haiti Updates in online searches due to the fact that it was originally published on January 13 and the link has been buried under subsequent information posted online.

PEAR continues to update our Haiti Update Blog Entry. You can access the blog entry here: http://pear-now.blogspot.com/2010/01/updates-from-haiti.html

Also, please continue to send additional updates and entries to us at: reform@pear-now.org or rmprhp@yahoo.com

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Saturday, January 16, 2010

PEAR Statement on Identified Adoptable Children of Haiti and Newly Orphaned Children of Haiti





*Identified Adoptable Children*

PEAR understands that some Adoption Authority personnel in Haiti have been killed and records are likely lost. Many children have not only been declared to be adoptable, but in the eyes of the Haiti government are legally the children of foreign parents. We call upon the authorities of US, Canada, France and other countries who have families matched with adoptable children to unite the children with their new families as fast as possible.

For the US, the chances of issuing humanitarian parole appears to be increasing each day. If this is indeed the mechanism that the US will employ to unite the children and their families:

1) We call upon DOS to clarify the pathway to citizenship for these children immediately.

2) We call upon international adoption clinics and family physicians to assist families with extra screenings in addition to TB testing and current American Academy of Pediatrics' recommended testing. We recommend that they emphasize monitoring for malaria, intestinal worms and parasites, and other diseases that occur with a contaminated water supply.

3) We call upon adoption agencies to assist adoptive parents in finding legal and health resources and adjusting contractual payments such as offering to spread out payments or eliminate fees that may not be relevant due to this special circumstance. Additionally, we plead with agencies to not see this tragedy as a marketing opportunity for future business and to hold off on signing up new clients until circumstances in Haiti stabilize.

4 ) We call upon entities who are gathering contact information from pending adoption cases to instead direct prospective adoptive parents to the proper authority, the US Department of State, in compliance with the Adoption Alert issued January 18, 2010 http://adoption. state.gov/ news/Haiti. html If prospective adoptive parents encounter difficulties dealing with DOS or disagree with proposals to help, we suggest that they contact their US Congressmen for assistance (to locate your elected officials, please see: http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt) . PAPs should exercise extreme caution in providing information to any third party unless they know exactly what is going to be done with their information and they completely agree with the entity's proposals concerning their adoption cases. PAPs trusting third party entities may end up having viewpoints advocated that are not theirs, are not in the best interest of their child, or are not in the best interest of their family.

PEAR commits to

1)Continue to update our orphanage, hospital and contact status list. See our blog post http://pear-now.blogspot.com/2010/01/updates-from-haiti.html

2) pledging to assist families in finding resources as we are in the process of assembling state resource directories. Please contact PEAR at pveazie@pear- now.org

*Newly Orphaned Children/Babylift discussions in the Press*

Crying children in rubble, hungry and injured. For many of us, watching the images from Haiti on our television screens from our comfortable safe homes, the first impulse is to somehow reach those little children and bring them to us to comfort, to shelter and protect.

And in doing so, we would be creating another quieter tragedy.

A mass evacuation of Haitian children right now is a huge mistake, distracting people from what will help them - sending help and care to Haiti and reuniting children with separated families.

For the children in orphanages not already legally determined to be RELINQUISHED- please for their sake do not send them away. They may have family in Haiti willing to care for them once the crisis is over.

The truth is: most children in orphanages are not orphans. Many have extended family that can't care for them physically, and an orphanage is really a foster home on a large scale.

Can you imagine surviving an earthquake and struggling to reach the orphanage where you left your daughter or nephew or grandchild - only to find that the people you hoped would care for your child when you couldn't had sent her far far away?

Right now, it's impossible to tell which child in a Haitian orphanage is eligible for an ethical and legal international adoption. Figuring out that answer pre-earthquake took time. Now - which child has family that survived the earthquake and are looking for her? In addition, there seems to be no reliable source as to the numbers of orphanages and children in care in Haiti prior to the earthquake. Without knowing how many children residing in orphanages or children newly orphaned would be in need of shelter and care makes the idea of a babylift a slippery slope. How are these children going to be tracked? What entity will ensure re-unification or re-patriation efforts? These important points seem to not have been considered.

While the recent press articles discussing a New Operation Babylift dubbed Pierre Pan Operation bring up memories of the Babylift in Vietnam and Operation Pedro Pan in Cuba where thousands of children were transferred during times of crisis, we want to emphasize that in the confusion of the crisis, many who weren't orphans were taken and placed, and the weight of that loss has to be carried by those children as adults. Many have spoken eloquently about the loss and confusion they felt. In addition, many families continued to search for their children after these events with little or no way of locating them. The heartbreak and grief this caused should not be forgotten.

After the 2004 tsunami, the same impulse to help by adoption came out and was gently but firmly turned down by most countries hit by the tragedy. Instead, aid was sent to help communities care for lost children, to reunite families separated and to bring aid directly to the children in need.

That was the right choice.

Let's support the children without reference to their status concerning adoption. They need to be given every opportunity to find their families and to see if they have relatives able to assume their care before adoption should be considered. We are sure if a similar disaster happened in the US, all efforts would be made to reunite displaced children with their immediate or extended families before any adoptions would be allowed. No one would want to see children further separated from their families by premature intercountry relocations and/or adoptions.



Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Friday, January 15, 2010

DOS Adoption Alert: Haiti Earthquake and Intercountry Adoption


January 15, 2009


Haiti Earthquake and Intercountry Adoption : Where Final Adoption Decree Or Grant Of Custody has been Issued


  • We have received numerous inquiries from American citizens whose Haitian adoptions had already been completed by the Haitian Government. We understand the deep concern these prospective adoptive parents feel about the welfare of these children, and we are actively working to identify available options in light of the recent tragedy.

  • DHS’ U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs have already begun defining possible ways to expedite these pending cases. DHS is actively considering expedited Humanitarian Parole for pending adoption cases in which the Government of Haiti previously issued a final adoption decree or granted custody to U.S. citizen adoptive parents for the purpose or emigration and adoption in the United States. As soon as there is a plan in place, we will provide details.

  • As you know, the U.S. Embassy is focusing its efforts to assist U.S. citizens in Haiti directly affected by the crisis.

  • The State Department continues to make adoptions a priority and we are continuing to work on adoption cases.

  • We are working closely with the Department of Homeland Security to determine how pending adoptions should be handled.

  • At this time, local phone lines are down and the Embassy has no way of contacting orphanages or adoption service providers. Once lines are up, the Embassy will be contacting them.

  • U.S. citizens with pending adoption cases in Haiti are requested to contact the Department of State at AskCI@state.gov for information about their adoption case. In your inquiry, please include in the subject line, Haitian adoption Information. The inquiry should include the full name and contact information (including e-mail address) of parents, full name(s) of child(ren), date(s) of birth of child(ren) (if possible), a brief summary of the status of the case, and the name and contact information for the orphanage.

  • We draw parents attention to the Department of State’s latest travel warning on Haiti at: http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_4632.html

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/