Family Affair: "Serious About Adopting from Haiti? Start Now"

Over on Double X, KJ Dell'Antonia explains what needs to be done to adopt a Haitian child in need.

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A bit on Haitian adoption from KJ Dell'Antonia over on Double X

The zeitgeist is wrong. Writers for the New York Times, Newsweek, others: all wrong. Anyone with the money, spiritual wherewithal, time, and vocation to adopt a child from Haiti should start now. There were 380,000 orphaned and abandoned children in Haiti even before the earthquake. Adopting from Haiti was a slow, arduous process—now, with buildings and records destroyed and adoption officials killed, it will be even more difficult. It might not, to be honest, be the best use of resources (time, money, your personal energy) to help the people of Haiti. And it certainly isn’t the most economical or even the most environmentally friendly way to add a child to your family. But there is value, and lots of it, in changing one life. One life, that is, plus yours.

The media-publicized concerns about adopting from Haiti are vastly overblown. Given the strenuous requirements of international adoption from any country, “adopting [Haitian] children in droves” simply isn't in the cards. There were all of 310 adoptions from Haiti last year. Families who brought their adopted children home from Haiti in the recent “humanitarian parole” (like this one) started their adoption processes in 2007. Among other things, an international adoption (or a domestic adoption, in many states) requires multiple visits from a social worker, interviews with family members, letters of recommendation, and dozens of affidavits attesting to everything from one's birth to marriage to lack of a police record from every place one has ever lived—each of which may need to be printed in one place, signed in another, notarized in a third, certified in a fourth, translated in a fifth, and then blessed by an Indonesian medicine man with a rabbinical degree. (Last part: exaggeration. But you will have to trust me that that is what if feels like.) It requires hours of education on cultural differences, bonding issues, abandonment, trauma, and the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome or memories of abuse.

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