Wisdom from Tapestry on Haitian Orphans and Adoption

Our friends Michael and Amy Monroe, who lead the Tapestry Adoption and Foster Care Ministry at Irving Bible Church, are always an excellent source of both information and discernment regarding adoption-related matters.  The email Tapestry sent today, pasted below, provides an insightful and appropriately-cautious overview of key issues regarding Haiti and adoption:

As the pictures from the devastation in Haiti continue to pour in, the reality of the long, slow road of recovery and rebuilding is becoming more apparent. But even in the midst of the tragedy, heartache and seeming hopelessness, God is clearly at work. Over the past days we have seen and heard inspiring stories of remarkable faith, hope and courage from Haiti. And the response from Christians across the U.S. – particularly toward the orphans and vulnerable children in Haiti – has been equally encouraging.

Understandably, the situation in Haiti has led many Christians to begin asking questions about international adoption, and specifically about adoption from Haiti. There have been countless news reports about the status and future of international adoptions from Haiti and, not surprisingly, no small amount of confusion has resulted.

In an effort to provide some reliable facts and some helpful next steps, we wanted to let you know what we have learned about the current adoption landscape in Haiti. In doing so we are only attempting to touch on the high points. As always, if you have questions or need more information please contact Tapestry at tapestry@irvingbible.org and we will be sure to follow up with you.

Some Basic Facts about International Adoption from Haiti

Prior to the earthquake there were (according to recent estimates) as many as 380,000 orphans in Haiti. Tragically, some have estimated that the number of orphans in Haiti may double or even triple as a result of the earthquake. Yet despite this staggering number of orphans only a little more than 300 Haitian children were adopted by U.S. families in 2009.  In addition, the average time to complete an international adoption from Haiti pre-earthquake was close to three years.

We could write a book about why this disparity between the number of orphans and the number of international placements exists, whether it is defensible (or not), why the wait time is so long, why the tension between adoption and humanitarian organizations exists and so on. But the reality is that international adoption was not adequate to address the needs of the vast majority of Haiti’s orphans pre-earthquake, and that will continue to be the case for the foreseeable future. As a result, we must all focus on the crucial importance of continuing to pray, give, advocate and serve – not just for the immediate needs in Haiti (which are many and urgent) but for the long-term. Along those lines, let us encourage you to continue to pray about how God would have you, your family and your church be involved to serve the ‘fatherless’.

Adoptions in Process Pre-Earthquake

The U.S. and Haitian governments have determined to “expedite” many of the adoptions that were already in process prior to the earthquake. This is being done via a process known as “humanitarian parole” and it relates to two categories of children whose adoptions were already in process pre-earthquake: (1) children who had been legally confirmed as orphans eligible for intercountry adoption by the Haitian government and (2) children who had been identified by an adoption service provider or facilitator as eligible for intercountry adoption and were matched to prospective U.S. adoptive parents. Certainly this is terrific news for the children and families affected and we rejoice with them.

Adoptions Post-Earthquake

We can make this real simple – as of now no new international adoption processes are being started for children in Haiti. As we noted earlier, one of the best and most reliable places to go for information on all international adoption programs (including Haiti) is the Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS). The JCICS webpage for Haiti indicates very clearly that new adoptions from Haiti by U.S. citizens are “closed.” While there does seem to be some discussion in the U.S. about streamlining the international adoption process for Americans wanting to adopt from Haiti (and possibly other countries as well), there is no clear indication as to whether or when that will happen.

How You Can Respond

The fact that Haiti is currently closed for new adoptions should not discourage you from taking the next step and getting involved. There are many different ways to serve orphans in Haiti and around the world, and we would be happy to discuss your options with you – so don’t hesitate to contact us.

If God has opened your eyes to the needs of the ‘fatherless’ and is calling you to adopt – even if you feel called to adopt specifically from Haiti – there is still much that you can do. Many people think that beginning the adoption process means that they must research information about agencies, gather the necessary financial resources, fill out applications and start waiting. Some people are even considering rushing out to obtain a generic home study.

These are all certainly ways you can get started, but let us encourage you to “get started” in a somewhat different fashion. By pouring yourself into the tangible steps listed below you will be “getting started” in a direction that will help you build a strong foundation for one day loving and serving a child in need – whether from Haiti, your own community or wherever God may lead you:

●  Pray – To some it may sound almost cliché, but the first step (and a continual part) of any adoption journey for those who are followers of Christ must be to pray. No matter where your journey leads you please continue to pray.

●  Examine – Your motivations and expectations matter when it comes to adoption, and yet many people spend far too little time examining themselves. Read this helpful article about the importance of continually examining your motivations and expectations.

●  Prepare – Children who are impacted by adoption and foster care have histories that can have profound impacts in a multitude of ways. These “children from hard places,” which certainly includes all of the orphans in Haiti, will need parents who not only have huge hearts and a deep well of compassion, they need parents who are informed, equipped and committed to building trust and helping their child heal. There are some great resources available to help parents understand these challenges and how to meet them. Some of the best resources can be found at Empowered to Connect.

Tapestry is committed to helping and serving families called to adoption and foster care in any way that we can. As the situation in Haiti continues to develop we will be sure to provide periodic updates on the Tapestry Blog.

In the meantime, please let us know how we can best serve you as you prayerfully consider how God would have you respond.