Top Ten Factors to Consider When Adopting From Haiti

Top 10 Factors to consider when adopting from Haiti. Info about parental requirements, available children, costs, and process.
Top 10 Factors to consider when adopting from Haiti. Info about parental requirements, available children, costs, and process.

1. The Parents

One of the prospective adoptive parents in the home must be at least 30 years old if you are applying as a married or cohabitating couple. If a prospective parent is applying as a single person, you must be at least 35 years old. The Haiti program does not accept prospective applicants over the age of 50 years at the time of dossier submission to the IBESR unless you are adopting a relative child.

In addition, applicants must be at least 14 years older than the child(ren) they plan to adopt. However, if that child is a relative, prospective adoptive parents must be at least nine (9) years older than the child(ren).

Haiti accepts applicants who are single, unmarried, married, or in common-law relationships. However, they do not allow same-sex couples – regardless of marital status – to adopt. A married couple must be living together and able to prove they’ve been married for at least 5 years. Common-law relationships require proof of at least 5 years of residing together. Continual residence outside of Haiti is also required.

Prospective parents must be in good physical and mental health, with no criminal record or history of loss of parental rights. Haiti requires a psychological evaluation for the prospective parents as part of the process.

2. The Family

Haiti currently has no restrictions on family size though your chosen agency might. Haiti’s requirements stipulate that any children already in the home age 8 years or older need to state their opinion about the family’s plan to adopt from Haiti. This is part of the home study process. Prospective families who wish to return to Haiti for subsequent adoption must wait a period of 2 years from the finalization of the previous adoption and application for the next.

There is no financial requirement to adopt from Haiti. However, prospective parents might be required to prove their ability to support another child. All prospective families must meet 1.25 times the U.S. poverty guidelines, as this is a requirement of USCIS in all intercountry adoption cases.

3. The Kids

The children of Haiti who are legally eligible for adoption live in crèches and orphanages. The children who need adoptive families have been abandoned, orphaned, or relinquished by their parents, primarily because of the extreme economic disadvantages of their birth families. It’s important to stipulate that not all the children living in care are eligible for adoption. Only the central authority for adoption in Haiti called the Institut du Bein-Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR), can make the determination that a child in care qualifies for adoption and only IBESR can match a child to a family.

The ages of legally available children range from 2 to 16.  Families may state a gender preference when submitting their home study. Because most prospective parents express a preference for a girl, families who are open to a boy will usually be matched faster. Sibling groups are also available. The children are typically of African descent.

4. The Process

Be prepared that the process to adopt from Haiti is a lengthy one. Once you have chosen your accredited adoption provider and completed your home study, your dossier gets submitted for approval to IBESR, which approves families to adopt and matches families to children.

Once you receive approval and then a referral for a specific child, you will receive a file of information via your agency on the child. You have two weeks to make an informed decision about accepting the referral. Upon acceptance, travel arrangements are made for your first trip, focused on bonding with the child whose referral you have accepted.

After the child’s visa is approved by USCIS, the parents travel to Haiti again. During this second trip, the adoption is finalized. The child becomes a US citizen upon arrival in the US.

The adoption process from Haiti can take from 3-4 years from registration of dossier to final trip for adoption finalization, depending on the family’s openness to age, gender, and medical conditions of the child or sibling group.

5. The Travel

Prospective parents travel to Haiti in this process twice. If the parents are adopting as a couple, both parents must travel the first time. The first trip is about 2 weeks long and is focused on bonding with the identified child. Once the child’s visa is approved here in the US, parents return for a 5-day trip at which time the adoption is finalized.

Many agencies have in-country staff or representatives to guide you through the in-country experience. Be sure to speak with the agency you have chosen for details of the support they offer for these trips.

6. The Program

The Haiti adoption program is a notably longer process than many others. This nation frequently struggles with political unrest and the stability of the adoption program is impacted in those times. The number of adoptions from Haiti peaked in 2017 and has declined since then. Only 130 children were adopted to the US from Haiti in 2019. Haiti is a signatory of the Hague Treaty on international adoption.

7. The Cost

The Median Adoption Service Provider Convention Fee for 2019 was $20,274.00, according to the State Department’s FYE 2019 Annual Report. This does not include documentation and notarizations required for the dossier, education fees, or in-country travel. Families should expect their total cost to range from $25,000 to $35,000.

8. The Needs

There are not enough placements from Haiti to the US for a consensus on the prevalence of alcohol exposure or Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) from international adoption doctors. However, given the nature of Haitian society, agencies and families report that they have not seen many substance-exposed children.

The needs of children adopted from Haiti include mild to severe special needs (as defined by IBESR) including behavior disorders, trauma, physical or mental disabilities, and those who are six years or older and/or members of a sibling group.

The medical reports in the children’s files are typically quite thorough. The children are given psychological evaluations to pinpoint possible developmental delays and tested for HIV, Sickle Cell Anemia, Hepatitis B, VDRL (Syphilis), along with a Complete Blood Count (CBC).

9. The Post-Adoption Reports

Haiti requires 8 years of post-adoption reports on the status of children adopted from Haiti. This series of up to nine (9) reports should include (requirements taken from the USCIS page, but clarify with your agency) a cover letter, a psychological report on the child, a medical evaluation of the child, school results, and a social evaluation. All documents must be in French or include certified translations into French.

The reports are due in the following timeline: 6 months home, 12 months home, then yearly for the next 7 years. Reporting requirements end when the child turns 18. The last five post-adoption reports may be completed by an entity other than your authorized adoption service provider. Parents can submit these last 5 reports directly to IBESR.

Creating a Family always urges families to comply with post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your cooperation contributes to the program’s stability and adds to Haiti’s history of positive experiences with US citizen parents.

10. The Additional Resources

This information is current as of August 2021 and represents our best estimates and approximations only. Depending upon your individual circumstances, even the widest ranges can vary greatly. Please always refer back to your chosen adoption service provider for specifics regarding your process.

This information is subject to change; therefore, check with an agency approved to place from this country for the most current information.

© Creating a Family

Image Credits: Feed My Starving Children (FMSC); Stefan Krasowski