Adopting a Child from Haiti Post Earthquake

Dawn Davenport


Haitian Adoptions Post Earthquake

Immediate adoptions after a natural disaster, like an earthquake, is not advisable. Families need a chance for the dust to settle and to find each other.

My heart is breaking for the people of Haiti.  As I watch the news, I am moved beyond words by the pictures, especially the pictures of children alone.  The mother in me wants to scoop each of them up in my arms and protect them, feed them, cuddle them.  I want to mother them because that’s what I do and what I am.  From the phone calls and emails I’ve been receiving about adopting Haitian children orphaned by the earthquake, I know that many of you feel the same way.  While the desire to come to the aid of orphans is wonderful, it is usually not possible to adopt these children, at least not in the immediate aftermath of the disaster.  Adoption is not the first solution considered for these children for many good reasons.

  • Right after a natural disaster, it is surprisingly hard to determine if a child is truly an orphan or just temporarily separated from his family.  Haiti and relief organizations need to move slowly to allow immediate and extended family members to find each other.  US law supports this by requiring that all children adopted by US citizens meet the strict legal definition of orphan, and just losing a parent is not enough to meet this definition.
  • Once a child is determined to be an orphan, the first step is to try to find members of his extended family or community to adopt him.  This effort takes time.  Literally and figuratively, the dust needs to settle.
  • From a practical standpoint, Haiti’s legal infrastructure has been torn asunder, and heaven only knows we need an intact legal system to process adoptions. The last thing we want is another fiasco of fraudulent international adoptions.  Also, with all that the Haitian government has on their plate right now, processing adoptions is not and should not be their top priority.
  • Travel to Haiti is not safe right now, and the limited supplies available in Haiti need to be used for Haitians, not foreigners traveling to adopt children.
  • Orphans of a natural disaster have been traumatized, and moving to a new home, with new parents, new language, and a new culture may not be in the child’s best interest even if they can not be adopted in their birth country.
  • International adoptions are a long, often drawn out process, and don’t lend themselves to the hurried atmosphere immediately following a natural disaster.

But here’s the irony: before the earthquake adoption agencies were having trouble finding families for Haitian orphans, especially sibling groups and little boys over the age of two.  There are many children in Haiti in need of a permanent family and these kids will still need families once the dust settles.  I hope that our donations to Haiti will be used in part to support families and extended families so that no new children are abandoned or placed in orphanages because their parents or extended family can’t afford to raise them.  Although that should be our goal, in reality we expect that more children will ultimately be in need of permanent adoptive families due to the earthquake and the economic crisis that will likely follow.  We won’t know the full numbers for at least 6 months to a year.  We have every expectation that international adoptions from Haiti will resume sometime this year, and I want to encourage you to consider this as an option.

Sadly, we don’t know the impact of the quake on adoptions that were already in process.  My heart goes out for those families whose children are still in Haiti.  All the families I know of have now receive word that their children are alive and safe, but I still can’t imagine the frustration of knowing your child is at risk and not being able to do anything.  It is possible that once the immediate rescue needs are met the US government will expedite these adoptions.  I hope to have more information on this in time for next week’s (January 20, 2010) Creating a Family show.

I often tell people that adopting from Haiti isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you are patient it is doable.  We have a chart describing the Haitian Adoption Process.  The Creating a Family radio show on January 20, 2010 will be on Adopting from Haiti Post Earthquake.  Adopting from Haiti is reasonable in cost and the children are simply beautiful.

How to Help the Children Now

In the meantime, there is so much that you can do right now to help the children of Haiti and especially the orphans of Haiti. By the grace of God, I have not heard of any orphanage that was completely destroyed or lost children. (I will continue to update this blog as new information comes in on this.)  However, several orphanages were damaged and all orphanages are concerned about getting basic supplies of food, medicine, and water within the coming weeks.  The physical infrastructure of roads, airports, and sea ports have been damaged or destroyed.  Getting supplies into the country and around the country will be a challenge and will take money.  All of Haiti needs our donations, but if you want to give to support orphanages specifically, consider some of these.  As most of you know, I seldom mention specific organizations or agencies because I feel the obligation to check each one out to make sure it is on the up-and-up.  Time simply doesn’t allow me to do that with this list.  I’ve done what I can, however, to quickly check them out. Again, I’ll continue to update this blog as I hear of new organizations collecting funds for Haitian orphans.

  • Dillon International Adoption Agency has had a long standing adoption program in Haiti and is affiliated with an orphanage and hospital in Haiti.  The orphanage was damaged and the hospital is overflowing with people needing medical help.  Dillon is collecting funds for both the orphanage and the hospital.
  • Holt International Adoption Agency has a long standing international adoption program in Haiti and helps run an orphanage and family preservation program there. The orphanage was undamaged.  They are collecting money to aid all Haitian and especially children.
  • Carolina Adoption Services: Working with Maison des Anges in Tabarre which is home to 90 children, the majority under the age of 2 years. The children are unhurt, but the orphanage sustained some structural damage.
  • Children’s House International: Working with Creche Enfante Jesus. Orhanage and children are fine but concern for food and water in the coming weeks.
  • Tree of Life Adoption Center: Working with HIS Home for Children in Port-au-Prince and Foyer de Sara. Although the 100 children are safe, the orphanage was damaged and the children and staff are sleeping outside. Greatest conern is food and water.
  • Bethany Christian Services: Working with God’s Littlest Angels orphanage and The Creche Enfants Jesus. Children are safe and orphanage was not damaged. They are able and willing to take in more children.
  • Hand in Hand is a nonprofit adoption agency that has been processing international adoptions from Haiti for the past 20 years. They are collecting donations for two orphanages they work with in Haiti.
  • Chances for Children provides the financial and strategic support for an adoption center named Crèche Enfant de l’Jèsus, currenly housing about 70 children and located east of Port au Prince, Haiti. Also support numerous local project to improve the underlying conditions that result in the number of children coming into institutionalized care.
  • BRESMA Orphange was badly damaged. They are trying to get all the children out of the country.
  • New Hope Haiti Mission is a non-profit Christian ministry providing care to 29 children.  The orphanage was damaged and supplies were lost in the earthquake.
  • God’s Littlest Angels is a non-profit Christian orphanage in Haiti.
  • Heartline Ministries runs Maranatha Children’s Home as well as many other programs in  Haiti.
  • Foyer de Sion orphanage is home to 225 children. Although all the children are safe, they are in need of money for supplies.
  • The Shepherd’s Crook is a phenomenal ministry finding homes for kids with special needs.  They are involved in a project in northwest Haiti building a facility for special-needs orphans.  Although they’ve put this project on hold since the quake, they are collecting funds for general Haitian relief working with Northwest Haiti Christian Missions.
  • Moving with the Spirit Mission Haiti is building an orphanage in Haiti.
  • World Wide Village, Inc. is a Christian ministry providing education, health care, nutrition and micro enterprise opportunities to children and families in Haiti.  Although not specific to orphans or orphanages, I felt compelled to include them since I have been following their blog since the earthquake.
Image credit: Living Water International

15/01/2010 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 25 Comments

25 Responses to Adopting a Child from Haiti Post Earthquake

  1. Avatar Wholesale Jerseys Paypal says:

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  2. Avatar Deanne Hamlette says:

    This post was very informative and helpful. I support an orphanage in Coq Chante, Haiti for 18 girls that is fully supported by White Stone Church in Knoxville, TN ( The youngest of the 18 girls, Atanie-age 4, did not get out of the orphanage before it collapsed and she passed away. Our prayers and financial help are greatly needed to rebuild the orphanage for the remaining 17 girls.

  3. Avatar A. G. says:

    Hello.This article was extremely interesting, especially because I was looking for thoughts on this matter last Thursday.

  4. Avatar Rhianna says:

    What you say makes sense. I do understand your point about waiting even tho I wish we didn’t have to. Thanks for your compassion for us parents and for the kids.

  5. Avatar Wesley and Annie says:

    This is a useful blog full of information rather than propaganda. Your radio show on this topic was the best thing I’ve heard. Thanks for providing us with facts rather than biased information on either side.

  6. Avatar Alicia says:

    Thanks so much for all the info! I really appreciate you taking the time to inform us all! My husband and I have been really looking into adopting from Haiti. I pray that God would help all the children that are truly orphaned to find their forever families!!! Thanks again!

  7. Avatar Dee says:

    This is a great blog. I think we all understand that even though pre-earthquake conditions in Haiti were often times deplorable, being poor doesn’t mean you can’t provide a loving home for a child. That’s why it is so important that these children are confirmed to be legitimate orphans before being put up for intercountry adoption. It only makes sense. That said, my husband and I recently adopted from the US foster system and are seriously considering adopting again, possibly from Haiti. If we start the process now, in a year or so when we’ve done what we need to on this end, hopefully the Haitian government will have a better grasp on the situation with the children there and the timing will just fall into place. Please pray for all of the Haitians and the international aid workers who were there during this tragedy, and who remain there trying to sort through what’s left of an already impoverished nation.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      YES, please pray for the people on the ground in Haiti before, during, and after the earthquake. My concern is trying to keep the focus on the huge needs in Haiti and for Haitian orphans after this in no longer the “hot” news. In a year, I hope we have a new and improved adoption process in Haiti. If you haven’t done so, listen to our Jan. 20 show on this topic. I thought it was particularly good.

  8. Avatar Taryn says:

    I considered adopting from Haiti last year, but held off. Once of my choices was trying to conceive via IVF, but since I am single I would have had to use a donor. Now, I feel I am being led to rethink Haiti. I have fully family support, can finacially I can afford to adopt.

    I have a brother who is temporarily living withe me (its been about two years), and I wonder how this will effect my home study. My nephew spends the weekends, he is wonderful too.

    Any suggestions on what to do next? Any thoughts comments pushes in the right direction would be great…and suggestions of Agencies in NJ would also be helpful!!!!

  9. Avatar Joyce says:

    Noel, I am very interested in adopting from Haiti at some point in the future and your comment about some flexibility in the marriage requirement caught my attention. That and the age requirement were making me wonder if Haiti adoption would really be an option for my husband and myself. I was wondering if it would be possible to email with you since you are going through the process right now? If you are open to it, please email me at thewinglessoneATgmailDOTcom or if there are any other parents out there who are adopting/have adopted from Haiti and would be willing to share their experience with me, please email me. I understand that adopting from Haiti is not something that will be happening anytime soon but I’d just like to collect some info so that I can be ready if and when the time comes that adoptions start up again. Thanks in advance!

  10. Avatar CC says:

    I was so drawn to adopting from Haiti as soon as Holt opened their program there a few years ago. Although we are no longer able to add to our family, my heart is with the children there, both before and after this tragedy.

  11. Avatar Autumn says:

    Great post. I have been gritting my teeth with all the people jumping on petitions and such to get children out of the country. Now is not the time! Talk about a situation ripe for abuse, trafficking and other frauds. Plus, like you said, this is a very intensive process and the government does not need to be dealing with it right now.

    My heart breaks for the orphans also right now — but being raised in your own country by your own relatives or others is better than losing everything. Lets give them time to find relatives and place them in country first. Right now what they need is aid and support.

  12. Avatar Lisa says:

    Dawn, Based upon the tweet I read about this blog, I was a little afraid that I would be reading something that condoned jumping on the next commercial flight that opens up in order to get first pick of recently orphaned children. Sorry for that, but it wasn’t clear in the tweet what your take on it would be.

    I am really encouraged and impressed by the excellent blog post in which you somehow managed to speak to the hearts of your followers and simultaneously explained why it is in the interest of these Haitian children to stay put where they have lived until more is known. Those children have siblings, aunts and uncles, grandparents and close friends, any or all of whom may have lost their own children this past week. They aren’t just suffering from a lack of clean water; they are suffering injury, loss and heartbreak.

    I am sure that a stable and comfortably well-off American family could offer these children both love and better living standards than they had, even before the terrible results of the earthquake. However, I agree with you, that familiarity, culture and guardians or parental figures who already know and love them have to be the first priority.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Lisa, I both love and hate the 140 character limit on Twitter. It forces me and others to get to the point, but it eliminates most nuance and valuable details. Glad you were surprised for the better.

  13. Avatar Jennifer says:

    Our church was suggesting that we could adopt children from Haiti. I have copied off this blog, which is by far the best I’ve seen on this topic. Perhaps “when the dust settles” , as you say, we can then take action. God bless you.

  14. Avatar Tam says:

    I would love to adopt a Haitian child as there are so many without loved ones. The price is way above what I can afford and they truly need loving homes, families. So many Americans can provide so much for these children but are blocked due to the fees. With the devasation there recently, there are so many more without parents, homes, people who care. My tears flow every time I see the news and wish I could bring them here to be cared for.

  15. Avatar Jamie Rowe says:

    My husband and I have been married 22 years, we have 3 children of our own. We are christians and are members of a baptist church here in our community. We would love to adopt a haitian child. Our hearts are breaking for the people of haiti. Our church has been going to haiti every summer on mission trips. If it would be possible for us to adopt a child, please let me know. I have no knowledge of the adoption process, but I do have love to give.
    Praying for haiti,
    Jamie Rowe

  16. Avatar erin says:

    I have been married for 15 years and have two children, 11 and 8. Would love to adopt a Haitian child and need to know where to begin or if it is possible, or if I would qualify.
    Where do I begin??

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      A great place to start to learn about adopting from Haiti is to listen to the Jan. 20, 2010 Creating a Family show which will be on Adopting from Haiti.

  17. Avatar William and Mitchell says:

    Hello Mrs. Davenport, First We hope you are well and happy. Just waiting here for our due date on our first little “Angel”. You know how I feel about the disaster in Haiti. I feel so deeply for the people and the country. We would gladly adopt and love dozens of these beautiful little Angels, but We looked at the updated chart of all countries concerning each ones adoption policies, and found that they are among the long list that still will not work with men. So upsetting that even in the midst of such devastation, WE are still not allowed to help a child in need. We will keep our thoughts and prayers directed towards all the children who need a forever home and all the love and nuturing one can offer. Love All, William and Mitchell.

  18. Avatar michelle says:

    Thank you for listing organizations to donate to – I wanted to do something more specific than just the red cross.

  19. Avatar Noel VanDeviver says:

    They do consider those married 5 years, in fact that is what I was told when we began the process. Unfortunately the requirements change at the whim of the official signing the paperwork. Even prior to the earthquake, having been in the process just shy of a year, I have been frustrated and upset. I knew what I was getting into, but nothing prepares you. We liked that we could send presents to Christopher and meet him several times before we got to bring him home for good. But that benefit is also a huge burden – it is so much harder having held him and cared for him. And now, this experience has been surreal. I just don’t know what to do next – call a senator, try to get him aid on the ground, speak with news reporters. It has been unreal…
    Please do consider Haitian adoption – they need loving homes. But be prepared for the rollarcoaster ride of your life.

  20. Awesome post. Great laying out of the issues that are at hand. So good to see all the ministries and orgs listed in one place. In your words, you rock! 🙂

  21. Avatar Dawn in NC says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I do hope, as Haiti returns to some semblance of normal in the coming years, that they will consider changing their adoptive family marriage length requirement from 10 years down to 5 years or less. I would happily embarq on a Haitian adoption journey, but DH and I have only been married 5 years, and we are already 43 and 46.
    Thank you again for bringing attention to the children of Haiti.

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