Index of "International Adoptions Reports"
Index of "Population, Refugees and Migration" ||
Electronic Research Collections Index ||
U.S. Department of State
1995: International Adoption -- Haiti
Bureau of Consular Affairs
INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION - HAITI
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION IN THIS CIRCULAR RELATING TO THE
LEGAL REQUIREMENTS OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN COUNTRIES IS PROVIDED
FOR GENERAL INFORMATION ONLY. QUESTIONS INVOLVING
INTERPRETATION OF SPECIFIC FOREIGN LAWS SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO
GENERAL: Haiti's adoption laws require that an adoption take
place in Haiti before the child leaves. However, this has not
been enforced since the September 1991 coup. This situation
could change at any time, with no notice. The child must
either be orphaned, abandoned, or authorized by a surviving
parent to be adopted. Adoptions must be approved by the
Haitian court and the Ministry of Social Affairs.
AVAILABILITY OF CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION: Recent U.S. immigrant
visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance
IR-3 Immigrant Visas IR-4 Immigrant Visas
Fiscal Issued to Haitian Issued to Haitian
Year Orphans Adopted Abroad Orphans Adopted in U.S.
FY-1988 4 36
FY-1989 2 78
FY-1990 6 58
FY-1991 7 42
FY-1994 19 43
HAITIAN ADOPTION AUTHORITY:
The Haitian courts issue adoption decrees, and the Ministry of
Social Affairs provides authorization to adopt. Both
procedures are necessary. The Haitian immigration authority
requires passports for all Haitian children leaving the country.
AGE AND CIVIL STATUS:
Haitian law does not allow a single person to adopt. A
prospective adopting couple must have been married for at least
ten years and have no offspring from that union. However, any
of these restrictions may be waived with permission from the
Haitian president. There are no age restrictions.
Haitian courts and or social service authorities may require
American prospective adoptive parent(s) to travel to Haiti
before the adoption is finalized.
ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS:
Successful and speedier adoptions generally require the
services of a Haitian attorney. Lists of Haitian attorneys are
available from the American Embassy or the Department of State,
Office of Citizens Consular Services. Adoptions are the
concern of the Institute of Social Welfare and Research in
HAITIAN ADOPTION PROCEDURES:
The natural parent(s) must authorize adoption through the
Haitian legal system. The prospective adopting parent must
obtain proper release from the surviving parent(s) or from
whomever has legal custody of the child. Since the September
1991 coup overthrowing President Aristide, Haitian law
requiring full adoption in Haiti has not been enforced. The
Haitian authorities could change this practice at any time,
without notice. Guardianship for the purposes of taking a
child out of Haiti and adopting the child in another country is
The adoption process takes an average of 2 - 6 months, but may
take more than a year.
There are no specific Haitian fees for adoptions, although
sometimes there are court expenses. The approximate cost to
adopt a child in Haiti is $3,000, with airfare additional, but
costs vary from case to case. Haitian law prohibits payment to
the child's parent/guardian.
HAITIAN DOCUMENTARY REQUIREMENTS:
Prospective adopting parents should have the following:
- birth certificates of adoptive parents
- marriage certificates
- if natural parents of child are deceased, their death
- birth certificate of child
- social history of child prepared by the Ministry of
- statement from a court, usually the Tribunal de Paix,
acknowledging the validity of the documents. Also, if
the natural parents are alive, a statement from the court
yielding legal custody to the adoptive parents.
AUTHENTICATION OF DOCUMENTS:
In addition, all foreign documents must be authenticated.
Generally, U.S. civil records, such as birth, death, and
marriage certificates must bear the seal of the issuing office,
then be authenticated by the state Secretary of State in the
United States, then by U.S. Department of State Authentication
Office, then by the Haitian Embassy or Consulate. Tax returns,
medical reports and police clearances should likewise be
authenticated, beginning with the seal of a notary public in
the United States or some appropriate issuing office. The
notary's seal should be authenticated by the clerk of court of
the county where the notary is licensed or some similar
authority. The document should then be authenticated by the
state Secretary of State, the U.S. Department of State
Authentication Office, and the Haitian Embassy or Consulate.
The U.S. Department of State Authentication Office is located
at 2400 M Street, N.W., Room 101, Washington, D.C. 20520,
tel: (202) 647-5002. Walk-in service is available 8 a.m. to
12 noon Monday-Friday, except holidays. The Department charges
$4.00 per document for this service, payable in the form of a
check drawn on a U.S. bank or money order made payable to the
Department of State. It is advisable to bring several copies
of the completely authenticated documentation with you to Haiti.
HAITIAN EMBASSY AND CONSULATES IN U.S.:
Embassy of Haiti
2311 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
tel: (202) 332-4090
Consulate General of Haiti
60 East 42nd Street
New York, N.Y. 10017
tel: (212) 697-9767
In addition, Haiti has honorary consuls located throughout the
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS:
Orphans adopted abroad who have been in the custody of the
adoptive parents less than two years require orphan petitions
for U.S. immigrant visa processing to enter the United States.
Get Started Early With U.S. Immigration Procedure:
Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that, whether they
identify a child prior to leaving the U.S. or locate the child
on a trip to Haiti, certain very time consuming processes will
have to be completed before the required U.S. Immigration
petition(s) (either the preliminary I-600A or the final I-600
petitions) can be approved. These include, but are not limited
to satisfactory completion and submission to INS of a home
study of the adopting parent(s), compliance with any state
pre-adoption conditions and a fingerprint check by INS of those
parent(s), certified copy of prospective adoptive parents'
birth certificate in U.S. or other evidence of U.S.
citizenship; certified copy of marriage certificate (if
applicable); certified copy of death certificate or divorce
decree reflecting termination of previous marriage (if
applicable). It is therefore suggested that prospective
adopting parents get in touch with the INS office having
jurisdiction over their place or residence in the U.S. at the
Unconditional Abandonment and Meeting the Definition of Orphan:
U.S. law provides for the immigration of children adopted
overseas by Americans under section 101(B)(1)(F) of the
Immigration and Nationality Act. The law states that an
eligible child must be under the age of sixteen at the time the
immigrant visa petition is filed. The child must have no
living parents or only one living parent who is incapable of
providing for the child according to local living standards and
has irrevocably released the child for emigration and
adoption. A child with two living parents can meet the
definition of an orphan only through the disappearance of,
abandonment or desertion by or separation or loss from both
parents. Abandonment of a child must be unconditional.
Agreeing to give a child up for adoption by a specific person
does not constitute unconditional abandonment, since the
parents are giving up custody with the understanding that the
child will be cared for and will be adopted by a particular
individual. The Board of Immigration Appeals of the U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) has ruled that a
child with one surviving parent who has not been abandoned may
qualify for orphan status only if the sole surviving parent is
destitute by local standards or is otherwise physically or
mentally unable to care for the child. This means that the
child may not be classified as an orphan unless the sole or
surviving parent cannot provide the child the nourishment and
shelter necessary for subsistence consistent with the local
standards of the child's place of residence. The parent must
also irrevocably release the child for emigration and
adoption. INS usually requires consular officers to
investigate the parent's inability to care for the child.
Consular Authority to Approve a Case:
Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), consular
officers can only approve clearly approvable I-600 petitions.
If there are any questions regarding the eligibility for orphan
status or whether petition conditions have been met, consular
officers must refer these petitions to the nearest INS office.
Taking the Child to the U.S.:
The U.S. immigrant visa petition (I-600) may be filed for the
child at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti or any INS
office. If it is filed at the Embassy, the petitioner (or at
least one of the members of a married adoptive couple) and the
child must be physically present in the consular district. The
I-600 is filed by one person, but if the petitioner is married,
the petitioner's spouse must also sign the petition. Both
parties must sign the I-600 after the child has been
identified. This means that if one party has already gone
abroad to arrange the adoption, the I-600 must be sent by the
spouse abroad to the spouse in the United States (generally by
express courier). If the petitioner is married and his or her
spouse has not seen the child before or during the adoption
proceedings, then the child must be readopted in the U.S. To
do this, the petitioner must show he or she has met state
pre-adoption requirements. INS makes this determination at the
time the I-600A is filed or it must be established that
pre-adoption requirements have been met at the time of filing
the I-600 at the Embassy.
If the INS has already approved an I-600A advanced processing
application, the I-600 petition may be filed and adjudicated at
the post to which the I-600A was sent. If advanced approval
has not yet been granted, the I-600 petition must be forwarded
to the INS for adjudication. If so, as noted above, a home
study and fingerprinting of parent(s) and any state
pre-adoption requirements will be necessary, perhaps requiring
Scheduling Appointment With U.S. Consular Officer:
It is advisable to contact the Consular Section of the U.S.
Embassy in Port-au-Prince at least one day in advance to check
that the documents are in order and to set an appointment for
the immigrant visa interview. The Embassy cannot guarantee
issuance of the visa in advance of the interview. If you are
outside the U.S. and the child has completed his medical
examination, you will have a preliminary interview with the
consular officer in order to complete form I-604 "Request for
and Report on Overseas Orphan Investigation". The child must
be present at the Embassy for the immigrant visa application.
The medical examination must be performed by a physician from
an approved list of physicians using a specified form. Unless
special circumstances, such as a physical handicap, indicate
the child's care will be particularly costly, the adopting
parents will not be required to provide further proof of their
financial situation, as this information will have already been
provided at the time of petition (I-600A or I-600) approval.
What Documents to Bring With You to U.S. Embassy:
Note: Since each case is different, it is possible that the
Embassy will request additional documents after a preliminary
review of the application of the prospective adoptive parent(s).
For the immigrant visa application the child will need:
1. Certified copy of child's birth certificate issued by the
civil registrar indicating the name of both parents if known.
2. If birth father, mother, or both are deceased, certified
copy of death certificate issued by civil registrar or an
extract (extrait) from the Haitian National Archives.
3. Relinquishment of parental rights executed before
appropriate Haitian authority.
4. Adoption decree issued by a Haitian court if adopted in
5. Valid Haitian passport.
6. Two 1 3/4 inch color visa photographs.
7. Medical examination (according to Embassy instructions).
If the minor has a physical or mental disability, a notarized
statement will be required from the prospective adoptive
parent(s) in the United States indicating that they are fully
aware of the physical or mental disability of the minor and in
spite of that fact that they have the intention of finalizing
the adoption. This statement can be included in item 19 of
form I-600 and also in the home study if more convenient. In
that case a separate notarized statement will not be required.
8. In cases where the minor has not been seen or observed in
person by the prospective adoptive parent(s), a notarized
statement by those parents will be required indicating that
although they have not seen or observed the minor in person,
they are nevertheless willing to adopt or re-adopt the minor in
the United States. Both parties must sign the I-600 after the
child has been identified. This means that if one party has
gone abroad to arrange the adoption, and the other remained in
the U.S., the I-600 must be sent by one spouse to the other
with the child's identity information completed and an original
signature of the spouse reflecting their concurrence with the
procedure. This is generally done by express courier in the
interests of time.
9. Note: There are no provisions in INS regulations for
approving petitions signed by agents with powers of attorney.
Consequently, even if an agent is physically accompanying the
child to the U.S., the petition itself must be signed by the
adoptive parent(s), after the child has been identified.
INS Fees for I-600 and I-600A Petitions: There is a new fee
schedule effective July 14, 1994 in the amount of $155 for an
I-600 or I-600A petition. If you have a valid I-600A and file
an I-600 within one year of the approval of the I-600A, no fee
will be charged for the I-600 provided you are only petitioning
for one child or for siblings. If you are petitioning for more
than one child and the children are not siblings, the I-600 fee
will be charged.
U.S. State Department authentication fee: If you are having
documents authenticated by the Department of State
Authentication Office, there is a fee of $4.00 per document.
Medical Examination Fee:
The adopted child must have a medical examination performed by
one of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate's panel physicians before
the immigrant visa can be issued. The cost of this medical
examination is approximately U.S. $12.00 and must be borne by
the adoptive parent(s).
U.S. Immigrant Visa Fee: The fee for the immigrant visa is
$200.00, $170.00 for the application fee and $30.00 for the
visa itself, and may be paid either in U.S. dollars or local
currency. This $200 does not include medical examinations,
costs of documents, the petition, etc. The American Embassy
does not accept personal checks or credit cards.
Prospective adopting parents should consult INS publication No.
M-249, "The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive
Children" and the Department of State information flyer
AMERICAN EMBASSY ASSISTANCE:
Upon arrival in Haiti to try to arrange an adoption, U.S.
citizens should register at the American Embassy, Consular
Section, American Citizens Services. The Embassy will be able
to provide information about any outstanding travel advisories
and to provide other information about Haiti including lists of
physicians, attorneys, interpreters and translators. The
American Embassy Consular Section is located on Rue Oswald
Durand, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. tel: 011-509-23-70-11;
23-70-08; 23-64-21; 23-64-24 and 24-64-43. Fax:
QUESTIONS: Specific questions regarding adoptions in Haiti may
be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or
Consulate. You may also contact the Office of Children's
Issues, U.S. Department of State, Room 4800 N.S.,
2201 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, telephone
(202) 647-2688 with specific adoption questions. Recorded
information concerning significant changes in adoption
procedures is available 24 hours a day at: (202) 736-7000, or
by automated fax (calling from the telephone on your fax
machine) at (202) 647-3000. If the country you are interested
in is not listed, procedures have not significantly changed.
Information on immigrant visas is available from the State
Department's Visa Office, at (202) 663-1225. This 24 hour
automated system includes options to speak with consular
officers during business hours for questions not answered in
the recorded material. Application forms and petitions for
immigrant visas are available from the
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, the nearest office
of which is listed in the federal pages of your telephone book,
under U.S. Department of Justice.
In addition, the State Department publishes Consular
Information Sheets and Travel Warnings. Consular Information
Sheets are available for every country in the world, providing
information such as the location of the U.S. Embassy, health
conditions, political situations, and crime reports. When
situations are sufficiently serious that the State Department
recommends U.S. citizens avoid traveling to a country, a Travel
Warning is issued. Both Consular Information Sheets and Travel
Warnings may be heard 24 hours a day by calling the State
Department's Office of Overseas Citizens Services at
(202) 647-5225 from a touch-tone telephone. The recording is
updated as new information becomes available. In addition,
this information is accessible through the automated fax
machine, as above, and is also available at any of the 13
regional passport agencies, field offices of the U.S.
Department of Commerce, and U.S. Embassies and Consulates
abroad. Furthermore, you may write in requesting information,
sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Overseas Citizens
Services, Room 4811 N.S., 2201 C St., N.W., U.S. Department of
State, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818. Finally, information is
available through your personal computer. If you have a
computer and a modem, you can access the Consular Affairs
Bulletin Board (CABB). This service is free of charge, and may
be reached at: (202) 647-9225. Consular Information Sheets and
Travel Warnings may also be accessed by subscribers to many
on-line services. For complete information on accessing
consular information via computer, please request document
1016, entitled "Consular Information Program," from the
automated fax system, which is described in the preceding
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