Airlift of Haitian Orphans & Need for Foster Families?

Dawn Davenport


How to help the Haitian orphans in the post-earthquake crisis.

How to help the Haitian orphans in the post-earthquake crisis.

We have been inundated with calls and emails by folks wanting to help Haitian children in some way-any way- and preferably in some concrete way.  Rumors are rampant about children orphaned by the earthquake being airlifted from Haiti to the US and about the possible need for foster families for these children.  I’ve seen reports in the last two days from Indiana, Florida and Pennsylvania about the possibility of mass airlifts of Haitian children.  For better or worse, these airlifts and the possibility of fostering are just rumors.  But this overwhelming desire to help is both touching and deeply beautiful.  It’s hard to maintain cynicism in the face of such kindness.

There is both so much happening and so little happening, that the confusion is understandable.  First, let’s talk about what is happening.  The US State Department and Citizenship and Immigration Services issued an unprecedented policy on Jan. 18, 2010 allowing children from Haiti that were already in the adoption process to come to the US before their adoptions are finalized.  They walked a fine line, and in my opinion walked it well, when crafting this policy.  They wanted to expedite bringing children that were legitimately “orphaned” over to the US, while at the same time, not opening the floodgate to children who could and should be cared for in Haiti.

The US does not need help in getting these kids to the US.  They also do not want or need adoptive families to go to Haiti to pick up their children.  There is an abundance of empty planes flying back to the US after dropping off relief supplies and the US Embassy is using these planes to bring home kids.  The US Embassy has acknowledged that it is chaotic right now getting orphans to the embassy and determining if they meet the criteria for expedited entry into the US (known as “humanitarian parole”), but more people thrown into the mix will not help sort out the chaos.

If you were in the process of adopting a child from Haiti prior to the earthquake, immediately contact both the CIS (haitianadoptions at and the DOS (ASKCI at with the name of your child, the name of the orphanage, and any other relevant information on how far along your adoption had progressed prior to Jan. 12, 2010.

Why you might ask, would they care about opening the floodgate for bringing all Haitian children to the US?  After all, these are children for goodness sake, and children in need of care!  I answered that question in an earlier blog (Adopting from Haiti Post Earthquake), but the crib note version is that child welfare experts believe that, if at all possible, it is in a child’s best interest to remain with their family or extended family.  We need to channel our desire to help into giving money to organizations that can help families care for their children during this crisis.  Organizations such as the Joint Council for International Children Services and  Holt International have  projects on the ground in Haiti right now to help families and help kids.

Another thing that is happening is the State Department and CIS are working on plans to expedite bringing children orphaned by the earthquake to live with family members in the US.  Although, not finalized, they hope to have this policy in place once it has been determined which children were orphaned.

But there is much frustration both here in the US and in Haiti about how little seems to be getting accomplished and how much remains to be done.  I imagine there will be a lot of finger pointing in the coming weeks about how things could have been done better, and some of the criticism may be well placed.  But honestly, I think we need to give it some time.  From what I read, relief supplies are flooding into Haiti.  The problem is getting the supplies distributed within Haiti and all the relief organizations are actively working to resolve this problem.  There are no plans at this time to airlift or boatlift or in any way bring children over to the US for fostering.

I hope that the desire of these families that are stepping forward to foster Haitian children will stay alive because in the future there likely will be many more Haitian children in need of permanent adoptive families.  No one knows when it will be possible to adopt from Haiti again, but I firmly believe adoptions will resume.  If there is a silver lining in all this tragedy, it would be the overhaul of the Haitian adoption process, which is badly in need of “modernization” (aka “improvement”).

I am so touched by the inherent good I see in so many people who never before thought they were “the type” to take in a child.  And even those who don’t want to foster a child are donating money.  Two-thirds of Americans will donate to Haitian relief. My faith in basic human kindness has been boosted.  And for this, I am grateful.

Image credit: American Red Cross

21/01/2010 | by Dawn Davenport | Categories: Adoption, Adoption Blog, Blog | 24 Comments

24 Responses to Airlift of Haitian Orphans & Need for Foster Families?

  1. Avatar T Lee says:

    Wow, your blog is so incredibly informative. I will be checking back often!


  2. Avatar Junebug says:

    An excellent, informative and compassionate post. It is difficult when people want to help to know that sometimes solutions aren’t always simple. I pray for all especially the children of Haiti.

  3. Avatar Rach says:

    I detest red tape especially in instances of these, it should be made as simple as possible once checks have been passed.


  4. Avatar jannadawn says:

    I’m amazed by looking at your comments how many people read the article you wrote, references and all, did not get the fact that no, they are not going to get to foster a chld from Haiti, that’s not currently happening.
    To all of you that still feel that kind of desire in your heart in spite of what you know in your head: contact a legitimate foster/adoption agency and RESCUE A CHILD from somewhere else in the world, who is waiting for a home now.
    The reason you feel compelled to help the children in Haiti is because you have seen the troubles they’re facing. With a little more research you will find there are children orphaned by disease, poverty, neglect, cultural pressure, and even war. Their needs are just as legitimate as children orphaned by a natural disaster.
    Adoptions from Kazakhstan and certain African countries can be as short as 6 months from the time you submit your dossier. also has lists of children with special needs who can be adopted for reduced fees. Many of these children need to come to the USA so they can receive the full medical treatment they deserve.
    PLEASE direct that positive energy to helping ANY child you can, even a chld from your neighborhood may need a Big Brother/Big Sister! They are ALL God’s children.

  5. Avatar F. I. C. says:

    YES. To everything you said. I am sending this to the fools that still keep talking about scooping up all the kids and bringing them here. The nutty Baptists that you also blogged on have helped to make people shut up about the airlift idea, but there are still some suggesting it.

  6. Avatar Bernice says:

    This article was helpful in a paper I am writing.


  7. Avatar Lesley says:

    Great post- I am getting a lot of questions from people in my community as well and am happy to get some assistance in responding. I just wanted to add that Partners In Health is doing a wonderful job keeping the kids in the communities that they are from by giving the extended family support to help themselves. PIH is primarily working outside of Port au Prince but many people displaced from the city are making their way back out to the country to relatives and friends. So one way to help while we wait for the process to be cleared up is to send donations to TY

  8. Avatar Elizabeth Larsen says:

    Thanks, as always, Dawn for your insights. I so appreciate the work that you do.

  9. Avatar Mrs. Gamgee says:

    I appreciate the fact that the Haitian and US/Canadian governments are sticking to their guns and not immediately taking childen out of the country. I know that there are many many well-meaning people in our countries who want to help, and there are ways to do so, but to take a child from their home, culture, and possibly their extended family is not a good long term solution. I believe that whenever there is a family member who is willing and able to care for a child, their wishes should be respected. Their situations are dire right now, but I think a family connection can do just as much, emotionally speaking, as food and medicine can do, physically.

  10. Avatar Denise Davis says:

    My husband and I are liscensed foster parents and we would be interested in opening our home to more children. Please send any info on how we may help the children from Haiti. Thanks!

  11. Avatar Betsy Simmons says:

    I have been a foster parent for 14 years in Columbus, Georgia and would love to foster a child for Haiti. Can you give me some information on how this works or is it possible.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      As of now, there are no plans for bringing children over here to foster. The best way to help right now is to send money to a charity that directly helps orphans or children’s homes. I list several in the previous two posts. In the future, I imagine and hope that there will be groups going over to Haiti to help rebuild orphanages and provide programs for the kids. I plan on looking into this type trip once they are ready for groups to come into the country.

  12. Avatar Kimberly says:

    I live in Florida and hear and see the planes coming in full of children without a family from Haiti. These children need a loving family to care for them during this crisis. My husband and I would love to care and foster a child from Haiti until they can meet up with their family again. Please let us know how we can help.

    • Avatar Dawn says:

      Kimberly and Tracy, the planes that you see are likely empty or full of Americans coming home or possibly are bringing children to their adoptive parents, but the adoptions were already in the process of being adopted before the earthquake. I so understand the desire to help in some very tangible way. My home and arms, like yours, are aching to be of some use. As hard as it is, the bets thing we can d right now to help the children of Haiti is to give our money to an established organization with long standing connections in Haiti. I’ve listed several in my previous couple of blogs. There are others as well. Wait for a few months and let’s reassess where the needs are then. In the comings years, there may very well be a huge need for families to parent some of these children.

  13. Avatar Tracy Brubaker says:

    My family and I would love to be a foster family to a child from Haiti. We are a christian family and it is weighing heavy on our hearts to help in this way. We have two daughters and we would love to give these children the love and comfort they deserve. Please let us help.

  14. Avatar Meredith DeLone says:

    I am a stay at home mother and my husband has a well paying job in Houston Texas. We can provide and loving, safe and happy foster home for a young Haitian orphan in need. You may also email

  15. Avatar Marisa says:

    Your posts are fascinating!!! I do hope people’s interest continues because so much will be necessary in the coming months and years.

  16. Avatar sandra clark says:

    i would like to become a foster parents of a child from haiti please let my family share what we have to help someone else. sandra on january 21st,2010 at 9:48pm

  17. Avatar Mechelle says:

    My husband and I would love to foster children from Haiti.
    Why isn’t this process fasttracked? if they do not want the children adopted out, can’t they be cared for in a proper home isntead of in overcrowded group homes?

  18. You are rockin’ the house with all these great, insightful and concise summaries of what is so important to know and to remember about the relief efforts. First, get them to safety. Provide for their immediate needs. Great info for all the folks who keep asking me and bemoaning yet another government roadblock (in their perceptions!).

  19. Avatar Essie says:

    Hi- I wanted to let you know I linked your blog and mentioned your podcast on my blog. I wanted to send people to a good place for information on Haitian orphans. Hope that’s okay! Have a good one & thanks for all the up to date efforts.

  20. Avatar krasimira ansell says:

    I would very much like to foster a child from ,Haiti this is my heart felt feeling,i want to help in anyway,please can any one direct me how to do this,

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