Seeing the Need
With our vision, “a family for every child,” WACAP has long seen the significant need in Haiti, and the hundreds of thousands of children growing up without certainty or stability, without a family. With the need so great, we have continued to ask ourselves, “From thousands of miles away, what difference can we make? What can we do for these children? When?”
Existing conditions in Haiti, such as poverty and disease, were made worse by natural disasters such as the 2010 earthquake, and after that Hurricane Sandy, which left so many children separated from their families. While some of these children were reunited with their families, many others needed to be adopted.
By 2012, WACAP was helping to support orphaned children in Haiti, and in 2013, we applied to the Haitian government to become an adoption service provider. By late 2014, we received accreditation from Haiti’s central adoption authority (IBESR) to provide international adoption services for Haitian children in need of a family.
WACAP Begins Serving Children in Haiti
WACAP traveled to Haiti in February of 2015, to meet with adoption officials and the staff of the orphanage we’d be working with (called Fondation Enfant Jesus) and in April of 2015, we officially opened Haiti as our newest international program! Several families who had already started the adoption process with WACAP were the first to begin the process of adopting from Haiti.
As these families began, the government in Haiti was beginning to implement the Hague Adoption Convention, an international agreement designed to protect the best interest of children. As countries improve safeguards, and revise laws and processes, often parts of the adoption process slow down (at least initially). As we talked with families about adoption from Haiti, we helped them understand the process Haiti was undergoing, and how that could impact their wait to be matched with a child, or other timelines.
Helping Families Navigate the Process
Soon, ten WACAP families, accepting that they may encounter some changes or delays while Haiti moved forward in its Hague processes, were working toward an adoption from Haiti, and eight more transferred to WACAP from another U.S. adoption agency that was no longer working in Haiti. Those eight families were in various stages of their adoption process. Only one of those families had already been officially matched with their child, and had taken the required trip to Haiti to meet their son. Although they were understandably discouraged by the news of Haiti adoptions slowing down, and frustrated by the unknowns, they were thoroughly committed to their son.
Our First Child Comes Home!
On November 9, that couple received an email from the U.S. embassy in Haiti about their child’s upcoming visa appointment. Two weeks later they were on their way to Haiti. After spending one week in Haiti they were back in the U.S. with their son! We are likely as excited as this family to see this beautiful boy’s adoption become a reality, and he’ll always be our “first ever child adopted from Haiti!”
How long did it take for our first family to bring their child home?
From submitting their paperwork to Haitian officials to being matched with their son, they waited 12 months, and then close to 12 more before they could bring him home. When you add the time it took to complete the preadoption paperwork and education, their adoption process, from A to Z, took about 2.5 years. We still estimate that it will take about 3 years total to complete the Haiti adoption process, but we do hope to see that timeline shrink as the new Hague process starts running smoothly.
Interested in adopting from Haiti?
Each year, we can submit a limited number of families’ applications to Haiti. We’re currently welcoming families to apply. If you are interested in, or have questions about WACAP’s Haiti program, contact Maya at email@example.com. If adoption is not part of your short-term plans, but you would like to help a child in need, please consider a gift to our “Every Child Fund.”
About WACAP’s Haiti Program Manager, Maya Andreic: Adoption has always played an important role in Maya’s life, as her mom had been adopted. Her first job, after graduating from college, was at a family style home for orphaned children. Through the years she’s learned that quite a few of her relatives have been touched by adoption. Maya’s history with WACAP started in 2000, and has gone full circle: adoptive parent, volunteer, and now WACAP employee.