On Friday afternoon, Magaly and I went to a meeting with the adoption unit at IBESR. We spoke to one of the lawyers who is responsible for implementing the new IBESR guidelines. We had lots of questions and received some answers. I left the meeting feeling like I finally got some answers about the new procedure and finally have an idea about what is going on!
We were called to the meeting because we had some children who were finally declared adoptable by IBESR and they wanted our input on the matches between the children and adoptive parents. it was very organized and I was very impressed.
The first part of the procedure is that the foreign agency will have their representative bring a dossier for an adoptive family to IBESR after it has been legalized. IBESR will review the dossier, send it for dispensation if needed, and THEN match a child to the parents. Once the new law is published in the Moniteur Journal then dispensation will no longer be required.
The procedure for the crèches is that we send the dossier for a child to IBESR, they give us an appointment for the biological parents to come to IBESR and speak in a group to the adoption personnel. IBESR staff explain about adoption and all of the ramifications. They encourage the parents to keep their children and talk to them about possible ways for them take them back and support them. most of our parents explain their reasons for bringing their child to the crèche.
After this initial meeting, the biological parents come back to IBESR for a meeting with the social workers and the psychologist. This is not a group meeting but is a private meeting that may take a couple of hours or more. After this meeting, the biological parents tell the IBESR staff if they are in a agreement to place their child for adoption or is not in agreement. Then the parents have one month to consider their decision before the child is considered adoptable.
If a birth parent does not want the child to be placed for adoption, then IBESR will do an investigation and go to the birth family’s residence and see whether the child can be returned to the parent. If they decide the child can be returned, then they will give us a date when they will come to pick up the child.
If they decide the child cannot be returned at this time to the home, then they will counsel the family on adoption again or try to find an orphanage where the child can be placed. This part is what I do not necessarily understand. They could not give me a time frame how long this process would take and I fear this may be a very long process with the present staff levels at IBESR. We have to consider that the children that came from the Kenscoff orphanage that closed down are still here after 18 months with no resolution to their status in sight!
Once a child is declared adoptable, IBESR will call us in to talk about the matching. I was very happy that they are willing to approve matches already made by the agencies and the crèches. They said since this is the transition period, they are being more lenient.
Yesterday, they allowed two matches that we already had approved back in 2012 and accepted letters of requests for matches of two children with medical needs! They asked us to please bring all handicapped children, children with medical needs, older children, sibling groups, and abandoned children. They want to try to place these children first.
They did say that if we do not have a family who is a match for the children we bring to IBESR, then IBESR will notify other agencies to ask if they have families who are matches for the children.
As I told the IBESR Staff, GLA wants what is best for the children and we are able to accept and change the way we are used to doing things, if we just know exactly what the procedure is going to be! I think since they have started interviewing parents and have already made some matches through other crèches that they are more organized. They seem to have a handle on how to implement the new procedure.
One thing that they told me is that they are treating all dossiers with the child in mind. They said that it doesn’t make a difference how long the adoptive parents’ dossier has been at IBESR. They will match a child to them when one is available that they think is a good match. They told me this when I mentioned that we have had some adoptive parents’ dossier in IBESR waiting for a match since February.
A match will be sent to the agency. The adoptive parents have 2 weeks to approve the proposal/match and then they must come to Haiti and spend 2 weeks at the orphanage getting to know their child. An IBESR social worker will spend one or two days of that 2 weeks observing the child and the parents. They said the crèche’s social worker must also observe and write up a report too.
IBESR staff said that once the law is published that they will meet with the other sections of the government involved in the adoption process and try to work out that the families can visit the civil court while they are in Haiti for that first visit. They did not promise that this was all going to be arranged quickly.
While we were in IBESR, we also asked about the families who have been in dispensation for a long time. There are many dossiers from many different crèches waiting for dispensation and some have been more than a year in the dispensation office. IBESR has written to the President asking him to please sign these dossiers that have been waiting so long. We will keep asking about them.
We have some dossiers that do not need dispensation that are waiting to be signed in the director’s office. Hopefully, some will come out next week.
IBESR has changed some requirements for children whose mothers have disappeared or are mentally handicapped and they can not sign for the child to be adopted. The adoption lawyers and the IBESR lawyers are arguing over the correct procedures and the interpretation of the law. Hopefully, this week we will have a resolution for what will be required by IBESR each and every time. We do not have that yet and each and every time depending on the IBESR lawyer you talk to, you get a different answer!
IBESR lawyers did tell us that any child at the orphanage whose parents have not come to visit or have not called in the past 6 months can possibly be abandoned by IBESR. We must write a letter to IBESR explaining the circumstances and IBESR will send someone to the last known address and do a search for the parents. If they cannot be found, IBESR will declare the child abandoned even if the birth parent has signed for the children to be adopted when they brought them to the orphanage.
We also found out that no child can be returned to the birth families until after IBESR has interviewed the family, went to their home and decided if the parent can care for the child, and then IBESR returned the child to the birth family. Right now, crèches are allowing children to leave if a parent comes and asks for them. Birth parents have sometimes even brought the police with them, I have heard this from other crèches. The birth parents must go to IBESR first from this point forward.
Over all, we came away feeling, like after a year of trying to find out how the new procedure will work, we now have some idea of the actual procedure and how we can work with IBESR to make the matches go quicker and smoother. It actually feels like there is light at the end of this long dark tunnel called adoption reforms…
And Life in Haiti Goes On….