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Protecting Haiti's Orphans

Protecting Haiti's Orphans
Protecting Haiti's Orphans

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The devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12th left many orphans in the process of being adopted with an uncertain future. The U.S. is committed to helping those children already in the adoption process to be quickly united with their U.S. adoptive parents.

On January 18th the Department of Homeland Security created a "humanitarian parole" policy which cut the red tape on adoptions for Haitian children who were in process or were declared eligible for adoption and matched with American adoptive parents, prior to the quake.

As a result, most of the children on track for American adoption prior to January 12th have had their proceedings expedited and left the country. To date, humanitarian parole has been granted to almost 500 Haitian orphans in the process of being adopted, several hundred of whom are now in the United States.

The Haitian government said that approving new adoptions of Haitian orphans by adoptive families in the U.S. or other countries will not be its first priority in the near term. In the aftermath of a crisis of this magnitude, children are especially vulnerable; and there is increased potential for abuse of, and trafficking in, children. U.S. and Haitian government officials met to discuss and establish a transparent and orderly procedure for securing departure approval for the children who were matched to American parents before the earthquake. The decision to permit the departure of children before the full and final completion of adoptions is a serious matter. Both the Haitian and U.S. governments must confirm that each child is appropriately authorized for travel.

The U.S. is hopeful that all of the children who qualify for humanitarian parole will soon be joining their loving families in the United States. It is in the best interest of these children to be united quickly with their U.S. adoptive parents.