Q: How long have you been waiting to adopt?
A: For a more thorough answer read my previous post here. More concisely: on Dec. 12th it will have been one year since we turned in our application to adopt from Haiti through WIAA. We originally started our adoption process (from Ethiopia) 3 years + 2 months ago with AGCI and that program eventually closed.
Q: How old will she be when you bring her home?
A: Likely around 2 years old.
Q: Do you know who your child is already?
A: No. We haven't received a referral of a child yet. We are hoping that will happen sometime in 2016.
Q: What does it mean when you talk about "referral"?
A: A centralized government authority (IBESR) in Haiti is the one who matches a child with a specific prospective adoptive family. Once they deem a child legally adoptable they issue the official referral. We receive a picture of the child as well as any history available on the child.
Q: What happens after you get a referral?
A: After we receive our referral we review the information and submit an official acceptance for the match. Then we travel to Haiti for a mandatory 2 week "socialization trip" where we will spend time with our child and be observed by a Haitian social worker.
Q: Once you've met your child, how long until you can bring her home?
A: This varies greatly, but my best guess is anywhere between 6 months to 1 year from the time we meet her until we get to bring her home. We definitely will visit her as much as possible during that part of the wait.
Q: Why does this process take so LONG?
A: This is a very complicated question, with long multi-faceted answers. Here is the simplified version of that, broken into four parts that I'm guessing that most reasons will fall under:
1. Part of the reason it takes so long is that there are procedures in place to ensure that adoptions are completed ethically, that families are properly vetted and that children being placed are indeed in need of adoption. That takes time.
2. Another part of the answer is simply government red tape and bureaucracy including sometimes unnecessary, frustrating hold-ups (sometimes on the Haitian side, and sometimes on the U.S. side of things). Haiti is frequently tormented with social and political turmoil, which can periodically put the brakes on the processing of adoptions.
3. Also Haiti recently overhauled all their adoption laws and also became Hague ratified (joined the Hague convention which oversees the international adoption of children), so it takes time to change and implement all these new guidelines, and there are bound to be wrinkles to iron out when so many changes happen.
4. Lastly, simply because it's Haiti. Things take time to process through our U.S. government with all modern conveniences. Documents in Haiti are all hand written and documented (not typed or digitally archived), and people can be difficult to track down for interviews and signatures.
Q: Why Haiti?
A: I answer this question differently depending on my mood. I usually answer in one of 4 ways...
1. Simply "because that is where we feel like our child is."
2. We've always had an interest in adopting internationally (we decided this before we got officially engaged to be married) and we actually began paperwork to adopt from Haiti back in 2006-7 after we adopted Noah, but we ended up being offered another opportunity for IVF which worked and brought us Lincoln (and later Max from frozen embryos). When we began revisiting the idea of international adoption for our family, Haiti was grappling with the after affects of their big earthquake and it wasn't a good time to start the adoption process there. I began to feel led to pursue adoption from Africa and we began the process of adopting from Ethiopia. When that fell through we felt strongly that we should pursue adoption from Haiti again. And so here we are full circle pursuing an adoption from Haiti again!
3. Because there is great need there. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. They were so even prior to the 2010 earthquake that devastated the country killing 100,00-200,000 people (estimates vary greatly) and decimated infrastructure and creating even more acute struggle with disease and abject poverty. Haiti has struggled to recover from this and disease and severe poverty are still very much a part of life in Haiti, and the number of children in need of homes has increased dramatically.
4. "Why NOT Haiti?" Every child everywhere deserves a home and a family. No child should live on the streets or in an institution, be forced into child slave labor (prevalent in Haiti, called restaveks), die from lack of care, or be left for greedy/evil people in the world to exploit them in various ways.
Q: Does it bother you when people ask how the adoption is going?
A: No! Thank you for caring about us and wanting to ask. We may not always have anything noteworthy or interesting to tell. Or you may catch me on a day that I get weepy or want to vent, but as long as you're cool with not hearing much...or possibly hearing more than you wanted to - then always feel free to ask! (And if you're curious, but don't want to risk possible tears or taking on psychiatrist duties then you can always check this blog for updates too)
Q: I know someone who is interested in adopting. Would you be willing to answer some of their questions?
A: Of course! Our answers will be based on our own opinions and experiences obviously, but we are very open with sharing what we have experienced and know regarding adoption or infertility struggles/treatments. We have been very blessed by adoption and modern medicine and we enjoy being able to share our thoughts and feelings on those topics. Heaven knows that we've reached out to strangers we don't know during this roller coaster journey of international adoption.
Q: How can I help? Is there anything I can do?
A: This is such a thoughtful question to ask (thank you to those that have)! Mostly just keep us and our future child in your prayers (I pray daily that she is being fed, held, and kept safe). Other people you can pray for specifically are our agency's adoption worker Chareyl (who we have huge trust and respect for), our child's birth family and care takers, IBESR (that will be referring a specific child to us), and the people of Haiti in general. The only other thing I can think of is that if you ever find yourself with travel miles that you aren't going to use, we would gratefully accept donations of miles that we would use for the multiple trips we will be taking back and forth from Haiti. We've been working on accruing and saving those too.
Q: Do you think adoption is the answer for Haiti's problems?
A: No. I don't. I do think that it is the answer for a child who needs a home and family now though. I believe lasting change for Haiti will come from Haitians. I also believe that to facilitate this, children need education. This is something that is difficult for most children to obtain in Haiti. The cost of providing education for one child is more than most entire families make altogether in a year. Because of this our family has chosen to provide an education for one child in Haiti who has an intact family to support them during their education and who will be staying in Haiti to someday provide for her own family and make a difference in her own community and country there. If this is something you are interested in, then I can wholeheartedly recommend Haitian Roots as a non-profit through whom you can sponsor a child or make a one time donation. For only $25/month (or $300/year) you can provide an education for a child in Haiti. This not only can change their life, but provide you and your family a deeply enriching experience as you are able to periodically communicate with the child you choose to sponsor. One-time donations are also gratefully accepted and can be done here online. The volunteers who run this organization have deep personal connections with Haiti and are doing much to ensure the continued success of their education sponsorship program, and of each child sponsored with them.
Other random stuff:
This wasn't a deciding factor in why we chose to adopt from Haiti...but how wonderful and terrible is it that Haiti, who is in so much economic/social/political turmoil, is so close geographically to our own country? We love that we live close enough that we will be able to visit our child while we wait for her paperwork to clear, and that we can take her back to see where she came from later, and that this proximity will allow us to find ways to serve this country as a family. We love that our children participate in French immersion (one of the official languages in Haiti) and hope that this may provide some benefits that we don't yet see.
Some days I long to see our little girl's face and to get her home, other days it feels like it's gone on so long that it's become somewhat abstract. I can only imagine what it must feel like to our kids.