Even on my best days, I struggle with anxiety. Typically I keep it under control with some cognitive techniques and the occasional Xanax. The earthquake was one of those events that brought my anxiety to the surface. But what was worse than the anxiety were the aftershocks.
In the minutes after the earthquake, the Livesays still had internet access for about 15 minutes (which later went out for several days). When I got online, the first thing I did was to google aftershocks. I knew my time was limited, but I felt compelled to do this before emailing Mark or contacting friends. We experience a nasty aftershock very quickly after the major quake, and I needed to read something that would tell me that this was OVER. I needed to see that aftershocks were just a one-hit-wonder. Instead, this is what I read:
Aftershock can occur for days, and even months, after an earthquake. Aftershocks are dangerous because they are usually unpredictable, can be of a large magnitude, and can collapse buildings that are damaged from the mainshock.
I think this is when the panic really set in for me. I am the queen of catastrophizing. I spent the next several days in hypervigilant mode, sensing to feel if the earth was shaking and running for the door with every tremor. I tried my best not to imagine myself trapped under rubble like the photos and stories I was hearing about outside the gate. I tried not to think about my husband being widowed, my kids being motherless, my baby daughter and Kembert dying painful deaths on my watch. I tried not to think about awful, bloody scenes. I tried.
It's pretty much all I thought about for four days.
It didn't help that the aftershocks were intense and dramatic. In the first 24 hours after the earthquake there were 13 aftershocks measuring over a 4.2. By California standards, those are pretty big earthquakes.
After the earthquake, I was in a daze, but there was one moment that I snapped out of it and took out my camera. It was such a cute moment. It was the day after the big quake, and we were having aftershocks all day. Several of us were holed up at the Livesay house, including another adoptive mom, Erin, and her son. Thank God for that . . . Kembert had an instant playmate as I fretted the days away. I filled a pan full of pool water for them, and they were having a blast scooping it from bowl to cup to pan. It was such a moment of pure childhood bliss. These kids had survived an earthquake the day before, were feeling the tremors just like the rest of us, and yet all they were aware of was that very moment. Fun. Laughter. Friendship. Cool water on a hot day.
I remember thinking that I wanted to capture that - to remind myself that even in the worst of circumstances, there can be joy. I am constantly amazed by the ability of children to live life in the moment, and to go through their day unfettered by the stress and worry that plagues so many of us as adults.
At the same time, I am ever cognizant of the pain the Haitian people are still enduring. It's a delicate balance - trying to figure out how to find joy again, while at the same time still acknowledging suffering.
I'm not finding that balance quite yet.
Since nothing gets me more excited than a little social activism, what say you we step it up a notch? This is a story that begs telling, and a cause that begs fixing. Ernest remains at the embassy for the 4th day in a row. Sleeping on the concrete. Surrounded by other desperate families. Pregnant women. Sick children. Awaiting a response. Getting none.
Since he can't seem to get any news, how about we bring the 'news' to him? If I've learned anything in the past month, it's the power of the media. I think this picture of stalled families might be one of interest to the American people. And to Silverfox 360, too. (Oh, I'm sorry. Do you not call him that too?)
Here is my thought. If we all contacted the national media today, surely someone posted in Haiti would be interested in making their way over to the embassy to see this for themselves. Let's hit them en masse. If you have twitter, tweet @CNN. Tweet @AC360. Tweet any news outlets you can think of.
If you know someone in the media, call them. If you don't, call the tip lines for major news outlets. Tell them there is a backlog of families with humanitarian parole sleeping at the embassy and just waiting for permission to leave. Ask them to go interview the families. Encourage them to expose the political motivations behind this stall.
Larry King did an hour long story on Haiti orphans last night. He spent half the hour talking to well-intentioned celebrities who are clueless to the complex situation in Haiti, and then spent the other half letting UNICEF have the floor. It's time for the truth to be told, from the people who are really living this. Not talking heads and movie stars.
It's time for people who care to ask for the truth.
My heart is heavy tonight for the adoptive parents who are still waiting to get their children home from Haiti, and for the children who wait in the balance. Since we got Kembert out last week, things have changed dramatically. On January 18th, the US government announced it was granting humanitarian parole for orphans already in the process of adoption. This made perfect sense: these children were shown to be eligible for adoption prior to the earthquake. The Haitian and US government go through extensive searches when a child enters the system to show this to be true, including the procurement of death certificates, DNA testing, and birthparent interviews. I was so proud that our country saw the value of evacuating these children into the care of waiting families in the US, not only to remove them from a precarious situation, but also to free up room in orphanages to take care of children who are orphaned or displaced as a result of the earthquake.
This all seemed to make sense for a couple days. The US agreed, Haiti agreed, and we saw lots of personal interest news stories of happy families united with their children. That is, until UNICEF stepped in. UNICEF, with their seemingly charitable gestures towards children worldwide, happens to be an organization that is staunchly, and often illogically, anti-adoption. It is also an organization that wields a great amount of power (and money), and when they put the pressure on, Haiti complies. There is a lot to be said about UNICEF's views. There is an essay brewing there - but for now, the short version is that UNICEF would prefer children without parents to be raised in an institution within their culture of origin rather than by a loving family of a different culture. In other words, race/culture trumps family/nurture/security. (It doesn't take a psychologist to see the faulty logic there).
Over the last week, the effort to get previously-matched children out of Haiti has slowed considerably. Extra steps have been added, redundant steps, steps that pose no added measure of safety since these children HAVE ALREADY BEEN CLASSIFIED AS ADOPTABLE BY THE HAITIAN GOVERNMENT, and since these parents HAVE ALREADY SUBMITTED AN EXTENSIVE HOMESTUDY/DOSSIER/BACKGROUND CHECK. This is effecting hundreds of waiting children. One such child is Ronel. I want to tell Ronel's story, because I think it is a compelling example of the need for international adoption, and a tragic (hopefully only temporarily tragic) example of how UNICEF's corruption affects orphaned children.
Ronel was abandoned at the Rescue Center of Real Hope for Haiti, which is an amazing medical mission that takes in malnourished children and nurses them back to health. I am constantly amazed by the life-saving work these sisters do. When he was brought in, he weight 28 pounds (less than my daughter India). They were unsure of his age, but guessed him to be about 7 or 8 years old. Over a few months at the Rescue Center, his weight nearly doubled. Because his parents had died and no other family came to claim him, they searched for an adoptive family.
Debra answered that call. I've never met Debra in person, but I feel like we're friends through this crazy blogging world. She is friends (the real-life kind) with Jamie, who posted a photo of Ronel on her blog. Debra saw the picture and knew. THIS WAS HER SON. She and her husband Ernest started the process to adopt Ronel. This was well over a year ago. Like many of us, they were in the wait to get him home when the earthquake happened. Like many of us, they moved into action to try to get their son home.
Ronel was supposed to come home the night Kembert did. He was one of the kids who did not get approval, and got left behind. My heart was so heavy for Debra that night, as she rejoiced for those of us getting our kids home. But even worse was reading this visiting missionary's account of what that night was like for Ronel:
Tara told me today that the boys were flying to the US. One was going to his adoptive family in Houston Texas, the other to a family in Dallas. When I got back from my days work, the boys were all dressed in their very best to meet their new families. They were so excited. I was so excited for them. It was hard to watch them go. Later in the evening after dinner, the truck returned from the airport where 27 children were flying to meet their new parents. In the front seat of the truck was Ronel, the 6-7 year old that was staying in my room. I asked why he was still here and Tara told me it was because they needed one more paper for him. The other children got to go. She said she hoped they could get the needed paperwork tomorrow. I would never wish for you to see the disappointment on Ronel's face because it would crush your heart... it did mine. It was dark and the power was off. He went into our room, laid down on the bed, pulled the sheets up and sobbed. It was so sad. Tara came in and talked to him in Kreole... I'm not sure what she said but I know she was trying to comfort him. After a time she got up and left as I sat across the room. I could not leave him by himself. I went over and motioned for him to move over and I laid down next to him. The tears were pouring out of him. He was still in his new clothes as he fell asleep.
The embassy wanted one more paper to send Ronel home. He was supposed to go home the next day. That was a week ago.
Three days ago, Debra's husband flew down to try to get him out. From Debra:
I did not know I would literally have to fight for him.
He [Ernest] just got word that the US is deciding to comply with a request from the Haitian government. That request is to approve of all children who leave the country after they have been cleared by the United States. France and Canada have not complied and are getting their waiting children home. Our US Ambassador has not cleared children and will not see the parents waiting/pleading. They were just told that the Ambassador has left for the day.
There are sick children and pregnant women sleeping on the floor in hopes to bring children home all the while nothing is being signed out. All documents are ready to go except for that approval....
E has said that every time they call him to the window Ronel runs up to his side and says a phrase in kreyol with an expectant look on his face CAN WE GO? As in can we go home. As in can we go to THIS home. His home.
I will not lie and say that I am not fighting fear. I am. I am fearful of Ronel being hurt again. Being left again. It would break Ernest. I cannot imagine what it would do to Ronel. Would he understand that we would still fight for him? To think of it makes my stomach sick.
That was written yesterday. They spent all day at the embassy again today. They still don't know if or when the ambassador will sign them out.
Ronel's story is just one story of hundreds. Hundreds of orphaned children with waiting families, and nothing separating them but political manoeuvrings and power plays that put children at risk. I hope that you will read this and consider educating yourself on UNICEF's history in thwarting international adoption, and register your voice of dissent.
Haitian Ambassador to US
Kenneth H Merten
US Ambassador to Haiti
Tabarre 41, Blvd 15 Octobre
P 509 22 29 8000
F 509 22 29 8028
Hilary Clinton/Dept of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
I thought it would be a fun project that they could open in ten years when they are 15, 13, and 10, and look back on some memories from their preschool days. In the year 2000, I bought a time capsule kit that Mark and I completed together. It was before we had kids, and we wrote that we couldn't open it until 2015. Oh, how tempted I was to open it early! But I know it will be more fun (and mean more to the kids) in five years. So now, we will have one to open in 2015 and another to open in 2020. We are such dorks. And by we, I mean me. Mark is merely a helpless witness.
But for this year, I just purchased a plastic container from the hardware store. I filled it with some of the smaller memorabilia we had around the house. I put in their preschool pictures, a shot with santa, Jafta's first team shirt, India's birthday pom poms, Karis's ultrasound pictures, and a copy of a shutterfly book I made for Keanan. Along with some other odds and ends, I also added an old cell phone, because I thought it would be funny to see how the technology has changed.
I also interviewed the kids to try to get a fun snapshot of what their interests are at this point in their life. I asked about favorite foods, favorite movies, and favorite pastimes. Here are a few of my favorite answers from Jafta:
What are your favorite songs?
"Beatle, the Backyardigans song . . . I used to like Do You Know Your Enemy (Green Day) but not anymore, because now I like a few more songs better. Like this song that goes like this: (starts humming the bass part of a White Stripes song). Bam bam, bam bam bam BAM BAM."
What are your favorite foods?
"Medieval Times food, tortilla soup, and sushi, but not the spicy part where you put your finger in your mouth, but I’m gonna need to think about this more."
What are your favorite movies?
"Transformers (he has never seen this), Star Wars (never seen it), Spiderman (nope, never seen it). And this one movie called How to Teach Dogs. it’s about a guy that, like, turns into an alien. And then there’s a guy that, like, turns into a dog. What a funny part." (I believe this to be a completely made up movie)
"And Scary Vine. It has skeletons and vampires and mummies. And wolves. And coyotes. Ow-oooooooohhhhhhhh!" (I also believe this to be a fictional movie).
"And Wobble Snow. That's where penguins dive into the water and there’s like a huge kind of whale that’s called a killer whale. There’s, like, snow that cracks and turns into a water. And then there’s a tiger that fights the penguin and then the killer whale eats them. It swims totally fast. It’s very disturbing. And there’s a type of fish that’s called an eagle fish. It has two sharp knives and it kills the penguins so they swim very fast and they go all the way down under water and make this noise: woierowier. It’s a funny part. You’re gonna wanna see this movie. And the like this guy that throws a ball at the penguins and he hits the water in his big army boat, with Lego guys underneath."
Okay, my guy is kind of a fibber. But I think it will be hilarious to read these answers to him when he is a teenager!
It is surreal to finally have Kembert in our home. It is surreal to get to know a three-year-old who is your son. He has a huge personality - almost reminds me of a little frat boy. He is silly and playful and extremely confident. He's got mad skills with any kind of ball. He is loud and wildly energetic . . . a great match for Jafta. He thinks that a bathtub full of water is the best thing ever. He's not so sure about grapes or elevators. He is sweet and affectionate, and in the evenings he gets a little homesick. He sleeps with a soccer ball. HE IS POTTY TRAINED. He squeals at the top of his lungs when he is happy. He loves to cuddle, and we are absolutely smitten with him.
We are having a blast with Kembert home. Despite the language barrier, the kids are having a non-stop party, laughing and squealing and enjoying each other. Last night, Jafta told me, "Mommy, Kembert is a wonderful person." We think so, too. Our homecoming yesterday was amazing. So many friends came to welcome him home, after years of supporting us and praying for us. We are so thankful.
Our house is pretty much in chaos mode, and the inmates seem to be running the asylum. All three big kids are tearing up the house and working each other into a frenzy of fun. I keep wondering if this is all just a honeymoon phase, and if things are gonna come crashing down in a few days as their adrenaline wears off. For now, it is joyful and exuberant and TOTALLY FREAKING EXHAUSTING. Though I must say, I have never been so proud of Jafta and India as I have this week. Their welcoming generosity and tenderness to Kembert is enough to make me weep.
We are so, so happy that Kembert came home so much earlier than expected, but of course that early arrival adds a bit to the craziness right now. I truly thought I would have a couple months where I could buy a bunch of Creole books and cram before he came. Instead, he showed up with me knowing only a handful of phrases. The language barrier is difficult. I can't imagine how that must feel for him, to talk and have no one understand him. Today he seemed very frustrated by it. I walk around the house holding my Simple Creole for Adoptive Families, reading out phrases and trying my best. It still isn't enough. He's picking up English very quickly but I know he is grieving at times and it pains me that I can't talk that through with him.
We also thought we would have more time to transition him from Kembert to Keanan. The nannies were beginning to call him Keanan, but for the most part he knows his name to be Kembert. We planned to change his name completely, thinking there would be plenty of time for that transition to occur while he was in Haiti. That didn't happen, and now that he's home and dealing with all sorts of acculturation issues, it doesn't feel right to go switching up his name at this point. So we are calling him Kembert, pronounced Kem-Bay. But some people say Kem-Bear. The real pronunciation is more like Kem - and then a nasal R (make the sound your throat makes if you stick your toothbrush in too far.) Since we don't plan on going around teaching everyone we know how to do french nasal tones, we say Kem-Bay. I think we may end up keeping that pronunciation but changing the spelling. We went to the doctor today and everyone pronounced it Kimburt. I don't want him going through life with his name mispronounced. Kembe maybe? Not sure yet.
Speaking of the doctor - two more things we need to figure out: transporation and insurance. We've had to drive in two separate cars so far. I've always resisted a minivan but at this point I am willing to drive a school bus if it holds all of us. We may have a solution in sight thanks to some very generous friends. We also don't have health insurance for Kembert. We did not get the IR-3 visa we were hoping for (though we are THRILLED he got humanitarian parole). At this point, his identity is in a kind of limbo . . . he's not a citizen, and he's not adopted, and therefore not eligible for any insurance. I'm hoping we can find a solution to that one.
Bedtime is also a big "degaje". Just the process of readying these four for bed is a two-man, all-hands-on-deck operation. We have two bedrooms for four kids, and every night it's musical beds trying to figure out the best system. India used to sleep with Jafta, but now she's booted into Karis's room, and they are waking each other up. Kembert is waking up at 5am, and the last two mornings we've found him playing in Jafta's bed, who is still trying to sleep. Tonight, we have Kembert in our room, with the hopes that he can fall back to sleep at 5am with gentle encouragement (and cuddling) from us.
And on that note, I think I should go to bed. Because I have a feeling my new son may not comply with that fantasy!
So many feelings tonight. I am so excited, and yet my heart is heavy for my little boy, who will be leaving his dear caretakers and friends who have been his family for his whole life. I sit here in anticipation, but also wondering what this experience is like for him.
I desperately wish I could be there. Mark is with my mom and my sister, who live in Orlando. How amazing for them to be a part of this. I am thrilled for the other families we have walked this journey with, too.
If you can, say a prayer tonight for the seven children from Heartline who did not get their papers today and had to be left behind. They need to come home soon.
Sometimes I feel like I'm handling this wait with grace. And other times . . . not so much. Like today, when I decided that I had to remodel the boys' room before Keanan gets home. (Did I really just say "boys' room"? As in plural? Wow. That feels weird.) I tried to patch some of the pain on the walls, only to use the wrong color and make a bigger project for myself. Then I went to Home Depot and bought a 6x6 area rug of astroturf to try to replicate this kitschy look I saw on apartment therapy, only to find an hour after placing it that Karis was crawling around the perimeter pulling "grass" pieces off the side and putting them into her mouth, rendering the carpet a certifiable choking hazard. It was a Bad News Bears kind of morning, that culminated with me calling my best friend in tears because I don't have a maternity bra to wear (left them all in Haiti) and because I can't fit the borrowed carseat in the car (left the carseat in Haiti) to get to the mall to get a new bra.
Don't judge me on the bra. I took it off because I was hunkering down for a good night's sleep out on the lawn of the embassy. . . little did I know I would be that way for the next 18 hours.
And really, we all know I wasn't crying about those things. I was crying about the earthquake, and the stress, and missing my son, and how tired I am, and how much anxiety I'm feeling. But those were the things that seemed unsurmountable in the moment. The bra. I was crying about a bra.
And not 15 minutes later, a friend showed up to take Karis and India. And another came and got Jafta. And another brought me a bra. And another brought me a carseat.
And then I cried some more.
Then this evening, a whole crew showed up and got all Extreme Home Makeover in the boy's room. We painted it bright green. With robots. IT IS AWESOME. And another friend put together some IKEA furniture, which might be the biggest sacrifice one friend can make for another.
And a little more crying. And some wine. And now . . . sleep.
I'm hoping tomorrow is gonna be a big day.
I am overwhelmed with excitement at the thought of having him home.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my friends, and even strangers, who advocated on my behalf. I have had touchpoints with my senators, congressmen, and even people in the state department. Thank you for that.
I am overwhelmed with love for my two kids who have talked all day about their brother coming home.
I am overwhelmed with emails. Please be patient with me to respond.
I am overwhelmed with fatigue. I have been running on pure adrenaline since Orlando.
I am overwhelmed with grief as I watch coverage of the devastation, and think of the families who have lost loved ones.
I am overwhelmed with anger that so much aid is not getting where it needs to go.
I am overwhelmed with pride at the work my friends at Heartline are doing right now.
I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for Megan, Tim, and the people in Haiti who are working to get our boy home.
I am overwhelmed with despair for the countless orphans who do not have adoptive families to fight for them.
But we would be perfectly happy for Humanitarian Parole. Or whatever brings him home.
We are scrambling with the possibility that he could really come home this week. We don't have the room set up. We don't have a car that holds four kids. We don't have so many things we need. I avoided setting everything totally up, because it seemed depressing to have a room set up for a child that didn't live here. I was trying so hard to banish daily reminders of our missing son. Now, I am wondering why I didn't do at least a little prep work! We are planning trips to IKEA and Target for the myriad of items we need. And the car thing . . . oi vey. No clue.
I am also talking to the kids about him coming home. We gave a big explanaition about the language issues, and how the kids will need to be helpful. Jafta got really excited and exclaimed, "SIGN LANGUAGE! We can talk in Sign Language!" He's been walking around all morning making weird and spastic gestures that no one can decipher. India's idea was to put on a ballerina skirt. So helpful, these two are gonna be.
And we wait.
Today there has been so much news, and yet so little clarity as to what it means for me. I am hopeful, but terrified. My friend Jamie's husband is an amazing musician . . . they are also waiting for their son in Haiti. He wrote a song about the wait, and it is a song that so clearly expresses most of the feeling I have myself. This song was on my playlist as I trained for our big run. Some days, I listened to it and it made me run faster, because it fueled my anger. Other days, I could only get a few bars in, and had to skip to the next song. Because running while sobbing is not best practice.
Today I saw the video for the song for the first time, and as we wait with the possibility of a homecoming, I felt my heart could burst.
Please pray for him coming home. Please pray for all of them to come home. Amos, Frankie, Gino, Sammy, Angelo, Ronel, Naomi, Geoff, Sebastien, Steven, Annie, Phoebe, Danae, Isabelle, and so many others who are waiting.
"Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, in coordination with the U.S. Department of State, today announced a humanitarian parole policy allowing orphaned children from Haiti to enter the United States temporarily on an individual basis to ensure that they receive the care they need—as part of the U.S. government’s ongoing support of international recovery efforts after last week’s earthquake.
"We are committed to doing everything we can to help reunite families in Haiti during this very difficult time," said Secretary Napolitano. "While we remain focused on family reunification in Haiti, authorizing the use of humanitarian parole for orphans who are eligible for adoption in the United States will allow them to receive the care they need here."
Humanitarian parole into the United States may be granted by the Secretary of Homeland Security to bring otherwise inadmissible individuals into the country on account of urgent humanitarian reasons or other emergencies. The humanitarian parole policy announced by Secretary Napolitano today will be applied on a case-by-case basis to the following children:
Children who have been legally confirmed as orphans eligible for intercountry adoption by the Government of Haiti and are being adopted by U.S. citizens.
Children who have been previously identified by an adoption service provider or facilitator as eligible for intercountry adoption and have been matched to U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents.
Under applicable laws, unaccompanied minors entering the country without a parent or legal guardian are subject to special procedures regarding their custody and care. DHS coordinates with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement on the cases of these unaccompanied minors."
Kembert is Keanan is Kembert. We've been using his legal name in the press, in case someone decides to advocate on our behalf with the government. That is our hope in all of this.
I saw kids on CNN going home, and the State Dept issued a statement. Does that apply to you?
There are statements from the state department about emergency visas and news reports of some families being "reunited". Unfortunately this good news does not apply to us, or to most of the families waiting. These emergency visas are for children who were already legally adopted in Haiti, and waiting for the US to approve them. Most of us are not there yet and still need humanitarian parole.
What do I write to the congressmen/senators?
Great sample letters are here.
Why did you leave him in Haiti?
I've been emailed this question a lot today. This is an impossible situation and there is no right answer, but for our family we feel it's not wise to move to Haiti right now and put our other three children in danger as well.
Why were you wearing a different shirt in three different broadcasts last night, while Mark was wearing the same one?
I've asked myself the same question all day long.
Why haven't you called/emailed/facebooked me back?
Because of this:
How many times have you cleaned up puke today?
Eleven. Eleven times.
How many times did you pretend to be breastfeeding so Mark would have to clean it up by himself?
Not nearly enough.
Why are you writing this blog post in interview style?
Because my recent media appearances have totally gone to my head. Now someone bring me a latte!
I am home from Haiti, safe and relieved. So many stories to tell, but right now we are mobilizing our energy towards trying to get our son home, too. It was extremely difficult to leave him in Haiti under the current situation. We are hearing rumors that there may be an option for getting him home under humanitarian parole. I know a lot of you are reading this blog and offering help. THIS IS HOW YOU CAN HELP. If this smacks of desperation, it's because we are desperate. We want to get him home. Watching the news since I've been home has made me even more aware of how bad things are over there. I am grateful to be home, but very upset to have left our son there.
We need to make some noise to get our congressman and senators working on this. I would also love you to use any contact you have with immigration, attorneys, press, or anyone who might have influence to get our story out there and put pressure on the state department to intervene. I am outlining the points below. There are also easy form letters on facebook here. If you are interested, let's flood our state reps from all sides: phone, email, and fax. If you contact people in Haiti, please be very sensitive to the fact that they are dealing with their own grief right now.
I've outlined the talking points below, which is followed by the contact info for some of our government officials. If you know of others, feel free to pass this along. I am willing to do press interviews IF they will allow me to talk about Heartline's relief efforts, or about the need for orphans to be granted humanitarian relief.
We have been in the process of adopting our son for 2 ½ years and were nearing the final stages when the earthquake hit. I was in Haiti visiting when the earthquake happened and I had to be evacuated and leave our son there. The government buildings that were processing our adoption were demolished. Many government workers are feared dead. Orphans in Haiti are in grave danger, and yet have willing families in the US who can care for them. When we left our son, he and the other children from the orphanage were homeless, sleeping outside of a missionary’s house because of damage to the crèche and to the missionary’s home. They are at risk of looting and robbery. Everyone in Haiti is at risk of food and water shortages and air-born disease due to the current situation. The local caregivers are focused on their own families, so the orphanage is short-staffed. Supplies are running low. The situation is desperate.
THE SOLUTION IS HUMANITARIAN PAROLE FOR ADOPTIVE CHILDREN. These children have willing families to care for them and can be brought to the US for care. While granting a humanitarian parole is outside the normal procedures, the United States government has granted them in the past (e.g. Cambodia and Romania).
THIS IS NOT AN EXPEDITED ADOPTION. The adoption process is now completely incapacitated, but when it resumes the United States seeks to honor the adoption process established in Haiti. This is a humanitarian effort to care for these kids, and the adoption will be processed using the usual procedure at a later time.
Humanitarian parole for adoptive children benefits everyone involved. The kids are moved to safety. There is no cost to the government because these children have families ready to care for them. This frees up the orphanages in Haiti to care for more children. It does not circumvent the already established adoption process. It is ethical and compassionate.
OUR FAMILY’S DETAILS:
Our dossier entered Haiti’s system in the summer of 2007. We have visited numerous times. We have a certificate from IBESR, the Haitian social services office, granting us permission to adopt. We have turned in that permission to the Haitian branch of USCIS. We have filed our I-600, which is the petition to classify him as a US citizen. Our homestudy and fingerprints are up-to-date. Our son’s legal name is Keembert Estime, date of birth is 10/7/06. He lives in Port-Au-Prince. Orphanage is run by John McHoul of Heartline Haiti. If he is granted humanitarian parole, we can arrange for getting him home.
(taken about an hour before the earthquake)
The Honorable Barbara Boxer
United States Senate
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-0505
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
United States Senate
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-0504
The Honorable Dana Rohrabacher
United States House of Representatives
2300 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-0546
Haitian Ambassador to US
Kenneth H Merten
US Ambassador to Haiti
Tabarre 41, Blvd 15 Octobre
P 509 22 29 8000
F 509 22 29 8028
Hilary Clinton/Dept of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520