In recent years, adoption in Haiti has become increasingly prevalent. As a result, the country’s adoption standards and guidelines have been in a rapid state of change to protect the wellbeing of Haitian children. As of 2014, the country has been a part of the Hague Adoption Convention, and as adoptions became more common, Haitian authorities began to set limits on how many U.S. agencies could be accredited and how many adoptions could take place. Currently, the country remains one of the more popular Hague Convention countries for hopeful adoptive families.
Read the following collection of information to learn more about adoption requirements in Haiti and how the process works.
Haiti Adoption Quick Facts
- Hague Convention Country: Yes
- Adoption Authority: Institut du Bien-Être Social et de Recherches (IBESR)
- Average # of adoptions to U.S. families: 100-400/year
- Average travel time for adoption: 15-20 total days
Who Can Adopt in Haiti?
If you are interested in adopting from Haiti, you must first make sure that you fit the Hague Convention standards and Haiti’s adoption guidelines as outlined below:
In order to adopt internationally from Haiti, you must habitually reside in another country (e.g. the United States).
If you are adopting as a couple, then at least one partner must be 30 years old or older. If you are a single parent, then you must be at least 35 to adopt. You must also be at least 14 years older than the child you wish to adopt (unless the child is a relative, in which case the requirement is reduced to 9 years). Prospective adoptive parents over 50 are not eligible to adopt in Haiti.
Under Haitian law, married and unmarried heterosexual couples may adopt, while same-sex adoption is prohibited. If you are adopting as a couple, you must provide proof of marriage or co-residence for at least 5 years.
Prospective adoptive parents must supply proof of employment and a stable income in order to adopt. There are no explicit requirements for the amount of money a family must make.
Previous Adopted/Biological Children
If a couple has adopted a child from Haiti, they must wait two years before they are eligible to adopt again. If any children in the household are above 8 years old, they will be interviewed and asked how they feel about the adoption.
Who Can be Adopted in Haiti?
Children must meet the Hague definition of an adoptee in order to be eligible. Additionally, the birth parents of the child must relinquish their parental rights or have them terminated by a court order. If the child was abandoned, then the local authority where the child was found will give consent instead.
Children must be between 3 months and 16 years old in order to be adopted, and if they are older than 12, they must give their consent. Excepting special circumstances, the Central Authority in Haiti will keep sibling groups together.
Adoption Process in Haiti
Since Haiti became party to the Hague Adoption Convention in 2014, they have been making changes to their adoption process and guidelines. When you adopt in Haiti, your processing and travel times can overlap in various ways: once you receive approval to travel and meet your child, you will still have to wait several months for Haitian authorities to give you clearance and issue the documents you need. In the following sections, you can find an overview of common steps of the process.
How Long does it Take to Adopt a Child from Haiti?
In general, it takes a year and a half to three years to complete an adoption in Haiti. Some of the known time frames in the Haiti adoption process include:
- Find a professional and complete a home study: 3-6 months
- Apply for adoption eligibility: 3 months
- Wait for a referral: 6-8 months
- Travel for familiarization: 15 days
- Gain approval to adopt: 6-8 months
- Travel to adopt your child: 3-7 days
Please remember that these numbers represent an average of all Haiti adoptions. It is possible that the timeline of your adoption could be significantly shorter or longer.
How do I Find an Adoption Professional?
Your adoption professional must be Hague-accredited and be authorized by IBESR to work in Haiti. In addition, they must send annual financial statements and post-adoption reports to IBESR in order to maintain their eligibility to operate in Haiti.
Here are some professionals who are qualified to help you with your Haiti adoption:
- MLJ Adoptions
- A Love Beyond Borders
- All Blessings International
- Holt International
- Children of All Nations
- Children’s House International
- Dillon International
- Bethany Christian Services
How to I Become Eligible for Adoption?
Once you choose an adoption professional and complete a home study, you’ll be ready to apply to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to be found eligible to adopt. As part of the Hague requirements, you must send Form I-800A to USCIS, who will determine if you meet the qualifications for international adoptive parents. Once you receive approval, it is good for 15 months.
From there, your adoption professional can send on your dossier to Haitian authorities for approval. When you have been cleared to adopt by both the United States and Haiti, you can begin the wait for a child referral.
What Do I Do After I Receive a Referral?
Once you have been matched with a child, you have two weeks to send a written agreement to the match. While you have the option to refuse a referral, keep in mind that it may significantly delay your adoption process. It is recommended that you only refuse a referral if you do not have the means to meet the child’s specific needs.
Once you accept a referral, you will need to need to file the Form I-800 to apply for your child to be an eligible Convention adoptee. If USCIS determines that your child meets the Hague standards, you can send your child’s visa application (DS-260) to Haiti.
How do I Complete the Adoption?
After receiving a referral and beginning the visa application process, you can begin your travel preparations. Adoption in Haiti requires at least two trips, and you will be notified of when you need to travel. Between getting your referral and finishing your adoption, you will need to go through the following steps to adopt your child:
- Apply for the child to be eligible to adopt – You cannot adopt the child until you apply to USCIS through Form I-800. Processing times can take up to several weeks, so you want to submit this as soon as possible.
- First trip – You are required to travel to Haiti for approximately 15 days in a familiarization period. During this time, you will meet the child and have an interview with a social worker in Haiti.
- Apply for your child’s immigrant visa – After you receive approval to the child to be adopted, you can file the DS-260 form to request a visa for your child.
- Complete the adoption – Several different authorities are involved in the adoption process in Haiti, and you will need to submit several items from your dossier during this time. After you’ve completed all the steps, you will obtain an adoption decree, and your child will assume your last name.
- Obtain a birth certificate, passport, and visa – Before you take your child home, you will have your final visa interview, after which you will receive your child’s visa. You also need to receive your child’s birth certificate and passport, which can take up to a few months.
Before you go back to the United States, you will also need to obtain an exit letter from Haitian authorities. To get this, you must present them with a letter from the child’s orphanage, the final adoption order, and your child’s passport information. Once you return home, you will be required to participate in 4-7 post-placement assessments. Then, your adoption journey will be officially finished.
Haiti Adoption Costs
On average, you can expect to pay $25,000-$40,000 over the course of your Haiti adoption. Some of the primary adoption expenses you will encounter include:
- Program Fees – Program fees will depend entirely on the agency you choose to work with, and they can range anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000.
- Third-Party Fees – Third-party fees include processing, application, and translation fees that you may need, including any charges for forms you send to USCIS or Haiti. Because of the many levels of authority your information goes through in Haiti, these costs can add up to $5,000-$8,000.
- Travel Costs – Because adoption in Haiti requires two or more trips, your travel expenses will likely be greater than if you were adopting in another country. This can be between $9,000 and $13,000.
- Post-adoption/Re-adoption – Ranging between $1,000 and $2,500, this includes your post-placement assessments as well as the costs of a formal re-adoption.
For more details on the costs of adopting a child in Haiti, contact your adoption service provider.
Haiti Travel Tips
Over the course of your adoption, you will be taking two or more trips to Haiti to meet your child, schedule interviews, and finally complete the adoption. While you’re there, here are some things to keep in mind:
- When making purchases, you may find prices listed in gourdes, Haitian dollars, or U.S. dollars. The gourde is the official currency in Haiti, and one Hatian dollar equals five gourdes.
- In many populated areas of Haiti, there is limited sidewalk space and a lack of crosswalks in the streets. If you are walking, always be very aware of your surroundings, as there is little accommodation for pedestrians.
- If you find yourself driving in Haiti, be prepared for heavy traffic and very few road marks or signs. Public transportation in Haiti is also discouraged.
U.S. Embassy in Haiti
The U.S. Embassy is a crucial contact to know in case anything goes wrong on your trip. If you are travelling to Haiti, find the information for the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince below:
Address: Boulevard du 15 October, Tabarre 41, Route de Tabarre, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Phone: +(509) 2229-8000