Monday, October 27, 2008

Adoption: Part I

I do work for the Dept. of Social Services..I think it should be difficult to adopt from foreign countries.. especially when there are neglected and needy children in the USA. I know the process can be difficult in either case. Best of luck. and thanks for bringing attention to need of Haiti.

The above comment was made in response to this post, detailing the burdensome process we went through to adopt our son from Haiti. I agree with the person who made the comment, that people wanting to adopt children from other countries or from the United States should be checked out thoroughly. Children--especially children who aren't living with their biological parents--are very vulnerable and their safety must be the first priority. The process also must ensure that the biological parents of these children weren't deceived or paid money to offer their children for adoption.

The United States has procedures in place to safeguard the integrity of the process. My husband and I had to be fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check. Actually, we did this three times: in our home state of Illinois when we began the process; at the U.S. consulate in Port-au-Prince two months before this first set of fingerprints was going to expire; and a couple of months later in Miami after we discovered that the U.S. consulate in Haiti lost our fingerprint cards. We were also interviewed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Port-au-Prince. Had our son's biological parents been known, they also would have been interviewed by USCIS to ensure that no fraud had been committed.

While the United States government wasn't blameless in delaying the adoption, most of the fault lies at the feet of the Haitian government. I won't bore you will all the stories of bureaucratic ineptitude. I cycled between being upset about the delays and what they meant for us and more importantly for all of the children who were waiting in orphanages (and all the children who were turned away from these orphanages because they were full) and stoicism, thinking about how difficult it must be for people in a poor, black country to see all these relatively wealthy white people swoop in and "take" their children.

I have something in common with the person who left the above comment. For 13 years, I worked for Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Peoria. I spent five of these years as a special needs adoption worker. . . to be continued in the next post.

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