U.S. Adoptions in Post-Earthquake Haiti

The devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, “set off an international adoption bonanza in which some safeguards meant to protect children were ignored.” The Obama administration responded to the crisis in Haiti by lifting visa requirements for children in the process of being adopted by Americans. Adoptions were expedited under a sparingly used immigration program called Humanitarian Parole. Humanitarian Parole is often referred to as an “extraordinary measure.” Although the program has now ended, many are concerned about the long-term effects of the effort. While, no doubt, many children were saved, there is concern that some may have been hastily removed and separated from relatives willing to care for them. Others note that some parents, in times of crisis, sell their children to orphanages. The biological father of two Haitian children, featured in the article, initially believed that his children would be taken to the U.S. for schooling and return to him when they were older. After learning what adoption really means, he terminated the process. After the earthquake, the case was resumed and the children adopted by a U.S. family with no mention of the father. Dozens of scenarios such as these will be played out in the months and years to come.

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