Below, WACAP’s Vice President of Adoptions Mary Moo and Haiti Program Manager Maya Andreic share about their visit to Haiti in November. Traveling after Hurricane Matthew, they discuss why processes in Haiti (including adoption) and recuperation efforts overall can take longer than many expect, especially in the face of an urgent need. Although life is difficult in Haiti, November’s visit made clear that with the many challenges, there is also a strength of spirit … and unyielding resolve to move forward.
Hurricanes, floods, elections and “how long?” These are the themes of many conversations we had during our recent trip to Haiti. The trip came on the heels of hurricane Matthew as well as unprecedented rain from a separate storm front that brought 30 inches of rain to the northern area of Cap Haitian.
We visited with a crèche (COTP) in the Cap Haitian area as well as one (FEJ) in the surrounding area of Port Au Prince. In both areas, the conversations were about the challenges of local people and families due to the many natural disasters that impact their lives.
Both these crèches (orphanages) are part of larger organizations that are focused on improving the conditions and quality of life for families in their local communities. It’s because of the help that they provide in these communities that they find out about children who are abandoned or whose families can no longer continue to care for them. There are no government run orphanages in Haiti, so their only chance for survival is either with a person within their community who takes them in and when this doesn’t happen, with a private crèche like FEJ or COTP.
We heard from both organizations that it isn’t unusual for birth family to bring a child to them and ask to relinquish the child due to the challenges they are facing (likely caused by a natural disaster or family crisis). However, instead of just taking the child, the organizations first talk with the family and visit their home to see if providing help might make the difference in having the child remain with their family. In many cases a helping hand is provided either through food, through education or training and in some cases the simple act of helping them to contact a relative in a distant area. This help can improve the family’s condition or bring them hope for the future to the point that they feel they can provide for their child. We all know that there are many children where a helping hand to the family isn’t enough for the child to remain with the birth family. These are the children that find their way into our lives and become ours.
What impressed us during our visit is the tenacity of Haitians. Whether it is tenacity to make a trip over roads that are now riverbeds, travel further for food, or to figure out solutions that might make a difference between parenting or not.
This tenacious spirit does not change the fact that life in Haiti is very hard. There are many children in Haiti who need families… and there are a lot of families in the U.S. and elsewhere who want to adopt them.
So why does it take so long? Because of the level of poverty in Haiti, the damage and destruction these natural disasters and epidemics result in takes much longer in Haiti to recuperate from. Every single challenge creates a delay in the process flow of everyday life and businesses … and adoptions are no exception.
However, this nation keeps getting up after each knock down, and continues where it left off. This is how things move forward: Children do get adopted and do join their forever families. But it takes a lot of time, and a lot of patience and faith.
About WACAP’s Vice President of Adoptions, Mary Moo: Mary has had the joy of bringing families and children together through international adoption since 1991. During these years she has coordinated adoptions in several countries including China, Cambodia, Ethiopia, India, Korea, and Romania. Her career in adoption has been supported by immediate and extended family who are also members of the adoption triad.