Many have expressed a desire to either adopt or provide foster care for the Haitian orphans should some sort of airlift etc. happen. I have truly been amazed by the compassion that I have witnessed from this group. I heard a story today of a Haitian man who said "we have seen people with their hearts in their hands willing to help." So true.
I want to provide you with truth and not unrealistic expectations. You deserve a true, realistic picture and this is it to the best of my ability.
Before I dive into this though, let's begin with the end in mind. The endgame for these orphans, like the other 140 million orphans around the world, is to get them out of harms way and into loving, caring homes. And the IMMEDIATE need for Haitian orphans is the first part- get them out of harms way!
In the immediate, even if you wanted to adopt a child from Haiti, it would not be possible at this time for a number of reasons.
1. Haiti is in full chaos mode right now. Children have been separated from their parents, making it difficult to know who is an orphan. There is a process that is used to determine if the child has no parents and that must be followed. It is good for the sake of the child and of course a distraught parent who desires to be reunited with their child. Granting them humanitarian parole (our immediate, short-term goal) gets them out of the country and into safety but still provides an opportunity for familial reunification if a parent is still alive.
2. Ultimately, the Haitian government will have to "sign off" on these adoptions and it will be a while before this can happen as their government is in complete shambles. Records, personnel etc. were not great before the earthquake and their priority is not going to be on adoption right now. Their focus in the short term is to meet immediate needs of the people and establish some semblance of a government. Yes, humanitarian parole is an immediate need that would give these children safety. Adoption however is a longer term goal.
3. Adoptions take time. If you are not already approved to adopt internationally, there is a process to go through to be "adoption ready." My wife and I have adopted twice internationally and we respect the process because it safeguards both the child and the biological (if applicable) and adoptive parent. Adoption is a huge decision and one that must be carefully considered. The steps towards being approved by the U.S. government to adopt a child internationally are in place for the protection of the child and for your own education and preparation.
If you want to adopt or possibly provide foster care for one of these little ones, you will have to begin the approval process.
Think link gives you a pretty good idea of the process to adopt internationally- http://www.theadoptionguide.com/process/
If you have already been through this process and have been approved to adopt internationally, there will most likely still be a waiting process. However, check with your agency or lawyer. You can find your best information through them. If you were approved to adopt in another country, you can switch, but the wait might be longer. We are just not sure right now.
If you are approved to provide foster care, it might be possible for you to care for one of these little ones in the immediate. We have been in contact with some people who are preparing for an airlift coming out of Miami, Florida but this is in a holding pattern right now. I know someone who has been called to see if she would take in a child, so preparatory groundwork is underway. They will need licensed foster care workers to take them in. We are also working on a temporary house to provide for these little ones as well.
If you would like to be foster care certified, here is a link to your state where you can find out information on what that process would look like.
I hope this email has not discouraged any of you who have a heart for these little ones to not follow through with your desire to provide care for them. But just know that it is a process and we must follow proper steps.
Step 1- Get them out of harms way.
Step 2- Provide temporary safe housing for them.
Step 3- Determine their status.
Step 4- Reunite those separated from living parents.
Step 5- Provide longterm homes for the orphans of Haiti.
Right now we are working on steps 1 and 2 but if you decide you are in for the long haul, you can begin the adoption or foster care process now. There are 140 million great reasons to do so.