Thursday, April 10, 2014

A halt to a Haiti Adoption

Well, I guess it's official now.  We're not adopting a child from Haiti.

The background of this story is that we had a friend who went on a medical missions trip to Haiti in the summer of 2011, met the child X there, decided he needed a good family, and told us that ours was it.  We knew it was crazy, but figured we'd pursue it until we either ran into a dead end or succeeded.

We've adopted children from the U.S. through the "foster-to-adopt" program, but we knew nothing about Haiti.  We asked around and got the name of an agency who might help us, "Giving Hope Haiti".

Now, part of me wants to say, "And this was our big mistake . . . " because this whole organization sort of exploded last summer . . . if tales of corruption, lies, fake kidnappings, and the like intrigue you, you can even read a whole blog devoted to the misdeeds of Giving Hope.    But at the same time, I'm cynical/pragmatic enough to have figured we'd run into corruption and inefficiency along the way, and we had to start somewhere, really.  So we called a few parents who had worked with them (happily), and then in the fall of 2011 we contacted them.  We figured they were our best shot at moving forward.

We got to go visit X in Haiti in December 2011, and also to meet Heather, the now-infamous women who ran Giving Hope.  That was an amazing trip; Heather was bustling and bossy; the country itself was horrible/beautiful beyond words, and the boy X was . . . well, charming.

We gave the boy pictures of our family, and I explained that we couldn't promise to know how the paperwork would turn out, but we could at least promise to try to adopt him.  When children in Haiti are adopted, they change names.  This boy's Haitian name would have been slightly phallic in the U.S., so my husband and I offered him the new name "Xavier", which he loved.  (Hence, X, or X-son).

We returned to the U.S. a week later to begin the mountain of paperwork.  Fast-forward to May 2012, when the giant dossier was finally complete, notarized, and apostilled.  From then, the waiting began.

Somewhere between Haiti suspending adoptions for a while and our agency starting to unravel, our dossier sat still for a year.  In May 2013, we heard that Haiti's IBESR had received our paperwork and given us a number in return.  During this time Xavier ran away from one orphanage (where he'd gotten typhoid, beatings, and not enough food) and found his way miraculously to the orphanage of Annie.

For the last year, we've waited for news from IBESR; instead we get letters from Annie which are carnivals of exclamation points:  What a great kid!!! This new lawyer is our last chance!  We have to act right now!!  We've scoped out several new Haitian lawyers (three, in fact).  The most recent of these actually checked on the status of our paperwork at IBESR; several documents from our file and Xavier's file were missing --- a mistake on the part of Giving Hope.

Now, we could probably fill in those missing papers.  It's just time and money, after all.  But Xavier will turn 16 this September, and IBESR usually takes a year or two to process a complete application.  And after that, there's still another six-month wait for the child to clear USCIS (US Customs and Immigration Services).  So at this point, we're looking at bringing an 18-year-old man into our family -- one who doesn't speak the language and who grew up in an incredibly different culture.

So there's that.  Not easy, y'know?

But then Annie, the exuberant orphanage director, wrote to say that she's sorry to have to tell us that Xavier has to leave her place.  He's been having behavior problems -- stealing, lying, misbehaving -- and she can't control him.  (She also says she's sure he has a great heart and will grow to be a fine young man!!!  I love Annie).   Over the past month or so, the problems seem to be getting more deeply entrenched.

Our family had dealt with our share of lying/stealing/worse, so we know what it's like to live through that, and we have no idea how to deal with that issue on top of his age and assimilation issues.  So, he's too much for us.  Or we've done too little, too late.  We've declared it over.


Well, sort of.  We are still trying to suss out ways to support his education down there in Haiti.  He's in a good school now, and that seems to be something he's interested in continuing.  And we're talking about possibly heading to Haiti with our entire family on my sabbatical, about a year or two from now -- it's sort of a, "If he can't come to us, maybe we can go to him" idea.  But that's still tentative.

But the adoption . . . that's a no go.  Which is too bad.  


  1. Well no one can say you didn't try. No doubt your efforts and the intents of your heart are recorded in Heaven and you'll be blessed for it.

  2. Oh, no.

    I like that you're still trying to keep him in your life.

  3. :(

    What a terrible situation.

  4. :( I'm sorry to hear about that, I know you guys have been putting so much into this process. I'm glad that you're planning to keep doing what you can for im.

  5. I am sorry to hear that things did not work out, but I commend you and Neil for such dedicated efforts on his behalf. Perhaps there's a chance, if he does well in school and desires to go to college, that he could get involved with an exchange program and you could host him in the U.S. for the length of his educational program and be that support system every college kid needs to take their dreams to the next level. God bless you both for your love for children and desire to do what's right.