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One thing I am passionate about is helping to tell stories and give a voice to those who have no voice. The place I most often am able to do that is Haiti. I deeply love Haiti, it’s people and it’s culture. Being an adoptive dad who has one child from Haiti, I have an especially intimate bond with that country.
Today I want to share some space and tell a story to illuminate the mess, tragedy and struggle that is currently plaguing the Haitian Adoption system. It is a story that began in March of 2010 when the Price family chose to begin the adoption process in Haiti. Now more than 4 ½ years later, they are still entrenched in the battle and fighting to get their kids home. (You can read more about them by clicking here)
When Karena and Zachary Price started their adoption they never imagined they would be separated from their kids for so long without being able to bring them home. Derline was 7 months old, and now is 5 years old. Juvens, then 4, is now 8 years old. And, Sophia who was 1 is now 5 years old. The Prices have missed precious time, developmental stages and life events with their kids.
Why? Simply put, the system is broken. Between fraud, stolen monies and misrepresentation by officials the journey has lasted for nearly 5 years. And now there is more trouble plaguing their adoptions.
Just in the last few weeks the US Government, at the prodding of The Hague Convention and others, has changed requirements and laws once more. This time the change affected one small statement in a complex adoption process. Just 90 days ago our government was allowing kids to come home through adoption when their decree stated a simple adoption. Now, the requirement is a change of the word simple to the word plenary; which is a legal term for final.
What does this mean? It means lots more time, waiting, money and trouble. It means that kids whose adoptions have been finalized for months are no longer able to come home. It means that families essentially will have to pay for their adoption all over again, and begin waiting again. It means that children that should be in stable and loving homes will remain institutionalized for as much as another year. It means that those children and their families will face tougher transitions and less developmental victories.
It means that the needs of children have once again been placed behind the priority of nice paperwork and bureaucratic process. And, it means that the lives of children are the collateral damage of a broken and ineffective process!
Here are the Prices’ own words in this matter:
“I just wanted to update you all on the process so far as to what I have personally witnessed being here in Haiti for the past 3 weeks to change our children over to plenary cases..... we have been to numerous offices and it seems no one really knows what they are doing or understands what is going on.
There is no sense of urgency! My children have been waiting 4.5 years.... all offices are requiring appointments and they are not taking but a few each day. Most people are being turned away. American citizens have paid tens of thousands of dollars for their completed adoptions only to have them consider invalid.
Personally I am looking at an easy $15,000 or more to fix this problem for my 3 children.
I find that American citizens are being taken advantage of by the local offices and officials. If this isn't extortion I don't know what its I am very concerned for the roughly 100 or more families that are now stuck in this mess. Worse yet, there is no good timeline as to how long this is going to take to resolve.
American families are basically paying for another adoption because the US didn't like the way a document was worded. Yet, less then 90 days ago American families with that wording were allowed to come home! how does this make any sense to anyone involved?
Children's lives have to matter. American citizens should matter! Our children should not be held for this ransom in a broken system. It is time NOW for the US to step up and fight for American citizens and our legally adopted children.”
Here is what I am asking. We cannot on our own fix this. But together we can make a HUGE impact! We can make a difference.
Let’s not focus on the problems, but focus on the possibilities. There are hundreds of children who are going to be able to come home when this is resolved. There are hundreds of families who will finally be complete. This is something to join together and fight for! This is something we should hope to celebrate as an adoptive community.
Will you help us spread this story? Will you share this post? Will you load your newsfeed with the information we have here.
Let’s make it hard for the US State Department, The Embassy, USCIS, US Officials and Haitian Diplomats to ignore. Let’s join together as a team and demand that Haitian Adoptions be fixed.
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