International Adoption - Haiti
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 foreign legal counsel. PLEASE NOTE:
Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator
they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and licensing office of the Department of Health and Family Services in the state where the agency is located.
The following is a guide for U.S. citizens who are interested in adopting a child in Haiti and applying for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. This process involves complex foreign and U.S. legal requirements. U.S. consular officers give each petition careful consideration on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the legal requirements of both countries have been met, for the protection of the prospective adoptive parent(s), the biological parents(s) and the child. Interested U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. consular officials in Haiti before formalizing an adoption agreement to ensure that appropriate procedures have been followed, which will make it possible for the Embassy to issue a U.S. immigrant visa for the child.
American families adopt over 100 Haitian children per year. This circular seeks to explain the specific requirements of Haitian and United States laws vis à vis foreign adoptions and the issuance of IR3 and IR4 visas. U.S. citizens wishing to adopt a Haitian child should be aware that Haitian adoption law requires that an adoption take place in Haiti before the child leaves the country with an American visa (Article 126, "Droit de la Famille," reprinted in 82 Le Moniteur 916 (November 24, 1983); "Decret du 25 Mars 1966 sur l'adoption," reprinted in 32 Le Moniteur 353 (April 18, 1974)). As a consequence, prospective adoptive parents must satisfy both Haitian adoption and U.S. immigration laws to obtain an immigrant visa for the adopted child. As explained below, adoptions must be approved by Haiti's courts and by the Haitian Ministry of Social Affairs' Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR) the Haitian Government's adoption investigatory agency, located at 18 Avenue des Marguerites, Port au Prince, Haiti. AVAILABILITY OF CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION:
Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to orphans:
Fiscal Year, IR-3 immigrant visas issued to Haiti orphans adopted abroad, IR-4 immigrant visas issued to Haiti orphans adopted in the U.S.
1997, IR-3 visas: 20, IR-4 visas: 122
1998, IR-3 visas: 41, IR-4 visas: 83
1999, IR-3 visas: 96, IR-4 visas: 0
2000, IR-3 visas: 129, IR-4 visas: 1
2001, IR-3 visas: 144, IR-4 visas: 48 HAITI ADOPTION AUTHORITY:
The Haitian courts issue adoption decrees and other legal documents, and the Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR) provides authorization to adopt. The IBESR is also responsible for accrediting adoption agents and orphanages in Haiti. Documentation from both the Haitian courts and from the IBESR is essential if you are planning to adopt a child in Haiti HAITI ADOPTION PROCEDURES:
Haitian law does not allow adoptive parents to take a child out of the country until that child first has been adopted in Haiti. Applications for guardianship for the purposes of taking children out of Haiti for adoption in another country are not permitted.
Adopting a child under Haitian law involves three steps. First, the prospective parents must obtain from the Tribunal de Paix (Justice of the Peace) having jurisdiction over the residence of the child the proper release (known as the "Extrait des Minutes des Greffes") from the surviving parent(s) or from whoever has legal custody of the child. Second, this legal document must be submitted to the IBESR, which will investigate, among other things, the medical and psychological well-being of the prospective parents and child. If the IBESR approves the adoption, it will issue a document known as the "Autorisation d'Adoption." Note: only the IBESR office in Port-au-Prince can authorize an adoption; IBESR regional offices do not have this authority. Third, the adopting parents or their legal representative must present the authorization from the IBESR to the Tribunal Civil (Civil Court) having jurisdiction over the residence of the child, and obtain from that court a Haitian legal document known as the "Acte d'Adoption," which serves as the official adoption decree. AGE AND CIVIL STATUS REQUIREMENTS:
Under Haitian law, a prospective adopting parent must be older than age 35; for married
couples, one prospective parent may be under age 35, provided the couple has been married for 10 years and has no children together. Pursuant to the terms of the United Nations Convention on Children, the Haitian Government may lower its age requirement.
Haitian law permits adoptions by single parents. Adoptions by married couples require the consent of both spouses. This restriction can be waived with permission from the Haitian president. RESIDENTIAL REQUIREMENTS:
Haitian law does not require prospective parents to reside in Haiti. Haitian courts and/or the IBESR may require American prospective adoptive parents to travel to Haiti before the adoption is finalized. ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS:
Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and licensing office of the Department of Health and Family Services in the state where the agency is located. The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince has a list of agencies known to work in Haiti. Neither the U.S. Embassy nor the Department of State can vouch for the efficacy or professionalism of any agent or facilitator.
Please see Important Notice Regarding Adoption Agents and Facilitators at the Web site for the Bureau of Consular Affairs at http://travel.state.gov
. HAITI DOCUMENTARY REQUIREMENTS:
Prospective adoptive parents or their attorney
should be prepared to present the following documents to the Haitian courts and/or the IBESR: the birth certificates of the adoptive parents; the child's birth certificate; the marriage certificate of the adoptive parents; and if the natural parents of the child are deceased, their death certificates. The IBESR also will require tax returns and police clearances from the prospective parents, as well as medical and psychological reports for the adopting parents and child. The Embassy will send prospective parents a list of the IBESR documentary requirements when the Embassy receives from the INS
an approved Form I-600 or I-600-A. For an IR3 or IR4 immigrant visa the child will need:
A Haitian passport reflecting the child's legal name as shown on the Acte d'Adoption.
Three "immigrant visa" photographs, which show 3/4 of the child's facial features, including the right ear against a white background. The face of the child on the photo should measure approximately one inch from the chin to the top of the hair. Note: the U.S. Embassy cannot accept "passport" photographs, which only show a frontal image of the face.
A medical report, including vaccinations (unless a vaccination waiver is requested), from an Embassy approved panel physician. Note: the physician can perform the required medical examination only if the adopted child is in possession of a valid Haitian passport.
Form OF-230, the biographical data sheet for the child, completed by an adopting parent in the name of the adopted child. A copy of this form is included in the Embassy's mailing to prospective parents after the receipt of the cabled notice of approval. Additional copies are available at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti.
The Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), 1040s and W-2s for the past three years, and evidence of current employment, such as a letter of employment or check stubs. Part 864A of the Affidavit of Support, part I-864A, must be signed by both parents as indicated.
The child's Extrait de l'Acte de Naissance (birth certificate) from the Archives Nationales.
An Extrait des Minutes de Greffe of the Tribunal de Paix having jurisdiction over the domicile of the child.
An Autorisation d'Adoption from the Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR), located at 18 Avenue des Marguerites in Port-au-Prince, indicating that the adoption conforms with the laws of Haiti. This issuance of an IBESR attestation is predicated on the parents satisfying IBESR's requirements, which are contained on a list that the U.S. Embassy will forward to all approved adoption petitioners. Certain IBESR requirements can be satisfied by elements of the petitioner's home study.
An Acte d'Adoption by the Tribunal Civil having jurisdiction over the domicile of the child.
The approved Report on Overseas Orphan Investigation (I-604). Adopting parents should ensure that INS-Port-au-Prince has forwarded this document along with the approved I-600, if filed locally, to the U.S. Embassy Consular Annex in advance of their appointment with the consular officer.
Note: To obtain Form I-604 from the INS, the adopting parents must show proof that the child is an "orphan" as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act. To do so, the adopting parents or their agent must demonstrate that either (1) the child has no parents due to the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation from or loss of both parents, or (2) the sole surviving parent is unable to provide proper care for the child and, in writing, has irrevocably released the child for adoption and immigration.
If the adopting parents have an approved I-600A application only, they will need to file Form I-600 with INS Office in Port-au-Prince and bring the approved form to the Consular Section at the time of the interview.
For IR-3 visas, prospective adoptive parents must show evidence that both adoptive parents, if the petitioners are a married couple, have personally observed the child prior to the issuance of the visa. For IR-4 visas, prospective adoptive parents must provide a written, notarized statement attesting that they intend to re-adopt the child according to the laws of their U.S. state of residence. An additional statement must be provided from their state's Bureau of Health and Family Services (or equivalent body) to the effect that all pre-adoption requirements have been satisfied (this usually exists as part of the home study).
Note: Since Haitian law requires that all adoptions be completed in Haiti before a child may depart the country, the distinction between the IR-3 and IR-4 category of visas is based on whether both parents have met the child prior to the issuance of the visa and, thus, whether the child must be re-adopted in the parents' state of residence to comply with U.S. law. IR-3 visas are issued when both parents have completed all requirements for adoption in both the U.S. and Haiti. IR-4 visas are issued in cases where the child must be readopted in the U.S. IR-4 visas require that either: (a) the I-600A be filed and approved by the INS branch office in the U.S. and one parent travel to Haiti to file the I-600 with the INS in Port-au-Prince and complete the process at the INS and Consular Section of the Embassy, or; (b) the I-600A and I-600 be filed at an INS branch office in the U.S. and a representative with power of attorney for both parents complete the process in Haiti at the INS and the Consular Section of the Embassy. In case (a), the parent remaining at home must sign the I-600 in advance.
Sufficient funds to satisfy all applicable fees. The U.S. Embassy Consular Section cashier is not authorized to accept checks or credit cards. Sogebank and Unibank are among some of the banks that have ATM machines in Port-au-Prince. ATM machines are also located in the U.S. Consulate. AUTHENTICATION OF DOCUMENTS:
The Haitian courts and the IBESR require that documents be translated into French and authenticated by Haiti's consulates in the United States. Addresses of the Haitian Embassy and Consulates General in the United States are as follows: HAITI EMBASSY AND CONSULATES IN THE UNITED STATES:
Embassy of Haiti, Consular Section
2311 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
tel: (202) 332-4090
Consulate General of Haiti
271 Madison Ave.
New York, N.Y. 10016
tel: (212) 697-9767
Consulate General of Haiti
259 S.W. 13th Street
Miami, FL 33130
tel: (305) 377-3547
Consulate General of Haiti
220 State Street
Chicago, IL 60601
tel: (312) 922-4004
Consulate General of Haiti
545 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
tel: (617) 266-3660
In addition, Haiti has honorary consuls located in the following cities who may perform authentication services (consult your local telephone book or operator for the telephone number of the honorary consulate nearest your home): Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, Evansville, New Orleans, St. Louis, San Francisco and Trenton. U.S. EMBASSY IN HAITI:
104 Rue Oswald Durand
tel: 011-509-223-6440 AUTHENTICATION PROCESS:
All documents above must be authenticated. Generally, U.S. civil records, such as birth, death, and marriage certificates must bear the seal of the issuing office. Then it must be authenticated by the state's Secretary of State in your state capital, then by the U.S. Department of State Office of Authentications and then by the Embassy or Consulate in the United States. Check with the Consulate in the U.S. with jurisdiction over your state to see what seals and signatures the Consulate can authenticate. It may be possible to eliminate some of the steps if the Consulate has the seal of the local issuing authority on file.
Tax returns, medical reports and police clearances should likewise be authenticated, beginning with the seal of notary public in the United States or some appropriate issuing office. The county clerk where the notary is licensed or some similar authority should authenticate the notary's seal. The document should then be authenticated by the state Secretary of State (in your state capital), the U.S. Department of State Office of Authentications, and the Embassy or Consulate. Advance Processing from INS:
Approved Form I-600A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition)
Fingerprints of each prospective adoptive parent on Form FD-258
Proof of the prospective petitioner's United States citizenship
Proof of the marriage of the prospective petitioner and spouse, if applicable
Proof of termination of any prior marriages of the prospective petitioner and spouse or unmarried prospective petitioner, if applicable
A "home study" completed by the appropriate State organization with a favorable recommendation
Filing fee of U.S. $460. Orphan Petition from INS:
Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative;
Proof of the orphan's age;
Death certificate(s) of the orphan's parent(s), if applicable;
Proof that the orphan's sole or surviving parent cannot give the orphan proper care and has, in writing, forever or irrevocably released the orphan for emigration and adoption, if the orphan only has one parent;
A final decree of adoption, if the orphan has been adopted abroad;
Proof that the orphan has been unconditionally abandoned to an orphanage, if the orphan is in an orphanage;
Proof that the pre-adoption requirements, if any, of the state of the orphan's proposed residence have been met, if the orphan is to be adopted in the United States. U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS
A child adopted by an U.S. citizen must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. The child must be an orphan, as defined by U.S. immigration regulations. Children who do not qualify under this definition may not immigrate to the U.S. as an orphan even if legally adopted by a U.S. Citizen. The Department of State encourages U.S. citizens to verify that a particular child is an orphan according to U.S. immigration law and regulations before proceeding with an adoption. There are two distinct categories of immigrant visas available to children adopted by U.S. citizens. A detailed description of the orphan definition used by INS is described below and can also be found on the INS web site at http://www.ins.usdoj.gov
. An Orphan.
If an adopted child has not resided with the adoptive parent for two years (or if the child has not yet even been adopted) the child must qualify under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act in order to apply for an immigrant visa. The main requirements of this section are as follows:
The child must be under the age of 16 at the time an I-600 Petition is filed with the INS on his or her behalf
The child has no parents because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation from or loss of both parents; or
The sole or surviving parent is incapable of providing proper care and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.
The adopting parent(s) must meet the following INS requirements in order to file the I-600 petition for the immigrant visa for an adopted child:
If the adoptive or prospective adoptive parent is married, his or her spouse must also be a party to the adoption
If the adoptive or prospective adoptive parent is single, he or she must be at least 25 years of age
The adoptive or prospective adoptive parent must be a U.S. citizen. U.S. IMMIGRATION PROCEDURES FOR ORPHANS I. The Petition.
Adoptive and prospective adoptive parents must obtain approval of a Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative (Form I-600) from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization
Service (INS) before they can apply for an immigrant visa on behalf of an orphan. The adjudication of such petitions can be very time-consuming and parents are encouraged to begin the process well in advance.
A prospective adoptive parent may file Form I-600A Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) office having jurisdiction over their place of residence. This form allows the most time-consuming part of the process to be completed in advance, even before the parent has located a child to adopt. In addition, a parent who has an approved I-600A may file an I-600 in person at the U.S. Embassy.
Detailed information about filing these forms can be found on the INS web site at http://www.ins.usdoj.gov
. U.S. citizens who have adopted or hope to adopt a child from should request, at the time they file these forms, that INS notify the U.S. Embassy in as soon as the form is approved. Upon receipt of such notification, the Embassy will contact the parents and provide additional instructions on the immigration process. U.S. consular officers may not begin processing an orphan adoption case until they have received formal notification of approval from an INS office in the U.S. II. The Orphan Investigation
One part of the petition process that INS cannot complete in advance is the "orphan investigation". An orphan investigation Form I-604 Report on Overseas Orphan Investigation) is required in all orphan adoption cases - even if an I-600 has already been approved - and serves to verify that the child is an orphan as defined by U.S. immigration law. A consular officer performs this investigation at the time of the child's immigrant visa interview. NATURALIZATION:
The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows for the automatic acquisition of U.S. citizenship for the adopted children of U.S. citizens who are born abroad. If a foreign -born child was adopted abroad and entered the United States on an Immediate Relative (IR) -3 visa, the child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen. If a foreign-born child enters the United States on an IR-4 visa and is adopted in a U.S. court, the child will become a U.S. citizen when the adoption is finalized (the child will be a legal permanent resident until then). ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult INS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. QUESTIONS:
Specific questions regarding adoption in Haiti may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Haiti. You may also contact the Office of Children's Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-22, Room 2100, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, Tel: 1-888-407-4747 with specific questions.
Information is also available 24 hours a day from several sources: Telephone
Office of Children's Issues - recorded information regarding changes in adoption procedures and general information, 1-888-407-4747.
State Department Visa Office - recorded information concerning immigrant visas for adoptive children, (202) 663-1225.
Immigration and Naturalization Service - recorded information for requesting immigrant visa application forms, 1-800-870-FORM (3676). Automated Fax
Contains the full text of the office's international adoption information flyers and general information brochure, International Adoptions. From the telephone on your fax machine, call (202) 647-3000. Internet
The Consular Affairs web site, at: http://travel.state.gov
contains international adoption information flyers and the International Adoptions brochure.
INS web site - http://www.ins.usdoj.gov Other Information
Consular Information Sheets - The State Department has general information about hiring a foreign attorney and authenticating documents that may supplement the country-specific information provided in this flier. In addition, the State Department publishes Consular Information Sheets (CIS's) for every country in the world, providing information such as location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. If the situation in a country poses a specific threat to the safety and security of American citizens that is not addressed in the CIS for that country, the State Department may issue a Public Announcement alerting U.S. citizens to local security situations. If conditions in a country are sufficiently serious, the State Department may issue a Travel Warning recommending that U.S. citizens avoid traveling to that country. These documents are available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov
or by calling the State Department's Office of Overseas Citizen Services at (202) 647-5225. The recordings are updated as new information becomes available, and are also accessible through the automated fax machine and the Internet web site, as above.
© July 2002