Building Families Through The Miracle Of Adoption

Jan 15, 2010

"Adoptions of Haitian children thrown into chaos"

The story below brings back memories of the worry that caused sleepless, tear soaked pillow nights each time a hurricane/flooding of any sort ran through TQ before we traveled to adopt HG (none of which were anywhere near as devastating as what happened in Haiti. My heart goes out to everyone in Haiti! The Adoptive Parents are horrified! I can only imagine!!! God please move Government officials to do what is best for the safety of the children!

by: Glen McGregor, Canwest News Service
Published: Friday, January 15, 2010
OTTAWA -- In an orphanage in the mountains above the shattered city of Port-au-Prince, twin boys Jacques and Jackson are waiting for the Canadian parents they have never met.
The Poirier family of Regina is adopting the two active 19-month-year-olds and hopes to bring the boys home to Canada to take their place as little brothers of Maia, a five-year-old girl adopted from the same orphanage three years ago.
The Poiriers are among an estimated 100 Canadian families whose adoptions of Haitian children have been thrown into chaos. They are calling on the federal government to fast-track the adoptions and bring the children to their new home.
"It's a matter of the Canadian immigration deciding that, yes, we will accept children who are already in the process," said Laurier Poirier.
Although he has learned from another Canadian family visiting the orphanage this week that the twins are safe, Ms. Poirier worries what will happen if food and water run out.
NDP MP Olivia Chow wants Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to issue emergency visas for the children, allowing their Canadian parents-to-be to travel to the Dominican Republic and overland into Haiti to retrieve the kids. So far, she's had no response from Kenney's office.
Normally, these adoptions must be approved by a Haitian court. But the government building that houses the offices that process the applications is reportedly in ruin, and there are reports that the Haitian judge who signs off on adoptions has been killed.
"There's no Haitian government anymore," says Ms. Chow. "The Canadian parents are ready to fly there to pick them up. They just have to be allowed in."
Ms. Chow says food is running short and orphanages are likely to become more crowded as they take in more children left homeless by the disaster.
Adoptive parents are ready to do whatever it takes to get their children home safely, says Heidi Van Ry, a physiotherapist in Edmonton. She and her husband, Brady, visited Haiti last year to meet the little boy they plan to adopt. They know that Trey, now a year old, is safe in an orphanage far from the city, but they are desperate to bring him home.
"He's just such a wonderful little boy. We love him to pieces. He's our son," she said. "We really need to get all these little guys home."
The news on television is particularly difficult to watch for Canadian families who have already travelled to Haiti to meet the child they will adopt, said Rev. Gordon Lewis, who runs the Toronto-based Mission of Tears, the only agency in Ontario that deals with Haitian adoptions.
"They've already held these children. They know these kids and it is like someone tearing these children from their arms," he said. "It's almost more than they can bear."
His agency has seven Ontario families that have been matched with Haitian children. There were reports on Friday that three teenage girls had been killed in one orphanage, but there has so far been no information about children bound for Canada being injured.
Across the country, a Kelowna, B.C., couple are also anxiously awaiting news of when they can get the little girl they're adopting out of earthquake-crippled country.
Dana Smid was standing in the future bedroom of 19-month-old Carmalisa when she heard the quake had hit.
"We heard that [the orphanage] swayed ... they could actually see it swaying back and forth," she said.
Dana and her husband, Ryan, recently visited Haiti to spend time with Carmalisa and sign some legal documents; since the adoption still didn't have final approval, they returned to Canada without her.
The Smids heard quickly the child was unharmed but the Haitian judge in charge of the adoption wasn't so lucky, he was killed. They now worry the paperwork could also have been lost, which could force them to start all over again.
"We wait so long and its been so emotional and we fought so hard to get her home," said Dana. "The thought of having to do that all again and leave my daughter there breaks my heart."
"It's time to bend the rules and get children home to their families," Ryan added.
Many of the children have been sleeping outside their orphanages for at least two or three nights because of the fear of aftershocks.
Though reports indicate the children in the orphanages are safe, he is concerned about the kids living with families in Haiti and awaiting adoption by relatives in Canada. Getting information about these children is difficult.
God's Littlest Angels, the Petionville orphanage where Jacques and Jackson now live, withstood the earthquakes and its children are safe, said Jerry Epp, president of an Alberta organization that helps runs the orphanage.
About 120 children there have been matched with adoptive parents, many of them in Canada, Mr. Epp said. Completion of an adoption in Haiti takes anywhere between 10 months and two years and must be approved by a Haitian court.
"We anticipate this will slow down the process quite a bit."
For parents, the earthquake means longer delays and more uncertainty about the safety of their children. "I can't comprehend what they're going through right now," he says.
Adoption agencies fear that the reams of paperwork required to complete adoptions has literally been lost in the rubble of collapsed government buildings, says Fabienne Dubeau, a volunteer with the Quebec adoption agency Soleil des nations.
Her agency is processing adoptions for about 40 Quebec families, she said.
"They are very courageous. They just want their children to be alive but they know it will be very, very long," she said. Some parents were as close as two weeks from bringing their children home when the earthquake struck.
Also watching closely are families that have already completed Haitian adoptions. Alice Hutton of Ottawa adopted a girl two years ago from God's Littlest Angels.
"It's a difficult thing to explain to a four-year-old. She hears Haiti on the news and her ears perk up, then she hears people are dead."
Some adoptive families stay in touch with the birth parents of the children. Sharon Bellerive of Gatineau, Que., says she was able to learn that the birth father of her two teenage boys, both from Jacmel, Haiti, survived the disaster.
Her boys, aged 14 and 15, have been watching the television coverage, she says
"They're just so glad that they're here and not there."
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