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HaitiOfficial Name: Haiti Last Updated: March 9, 2016
Alerts & Notices
Hague Adoption Convention Country? Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between Haiti and the United States possible? Both adoptions to the United States from Haiti and from the United States to Haiti are possible.
Hague Convention information
Please see our section on Adoptions from the United States for more information on the process for adopting a child from the United States.
Haiti is a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries must be done in accordance with the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations; as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Haiti.
Identifying an agency: Haiti’s 2013 adoption law prohibits independent and private adoptions. U.S. prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt from Haiti are required to contract one of the accredited or approved U.S. adoption service providers authorized to operate in Haiti. A list of these agencies is available in the Department’s April 30, 2015 Adoption Alert. Please note that as of October 1, 2016, each U.S. adoption service provider will be allowed to present no more than one (1) dossier/application to adopt from Haiti to Haiti’s central authority, the Institut du Bien-Être Social et de Recherches (IBESR), each month (for a non-special needs or non-relative adoption), plus up to 10 dossiers/applications to adopt from Haiti per year for families seeking to adopt relatives or children with special needs.
In addition, prospective adoptive parents who are not adopting relatives must adopt from a crèche/orphanage that IBESR has licensed and rated a “green light” facility. Your adoption service provider should be able to confirm the status of any crèche/orphanage with which it works in Haiti.
Matching: Haiti’s adoption law prohibits birth parent(s) or other guardian(s) from identifying who will adopt a Haitian child, unless the prospective adoptive parents are relatives. In addition, neither adoption service providers nor crèche/orphanage directors are allowed to match prospective adoptive parents with specific Haitian children. They are also prohibited under Haiti’s adoption procedures from disclosing information about a proposed match to prospective adoptive parents before IBESR formally makes a match. IBESR may take a proposal from a crèche director under advisement, but this does not guarantee that any such matching proposals will be approved by IBESR. Exerting pressure on IBESR to approve a proposed match may result in the proposal being denied. Under Haiti’s law, only IBESR may officially match prospective adoptive parents with Haitian children.
Prospective adoptive parents are strongly cautioned against having any contact with a child’s crèche director or employees, birth parent(s), other guardian(s), or other caregiver(s) until the PAPs have been found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS (Form I-800A approval) and IBESR has reviewed the necessary consents to the adoption and determined the child is available for adoption. Such contact may constitute “prior contact” as defined in the Convention, U.S. law, and/or Haitian law, and may cause IBESR to delay making an official a match or to decide against allowing a case to proceed under the Convention process. Prior contact may also constitute grounds to deny a Form I-800 petition. Prospective adoptive parents should also not complete an adoption or take legal custody of a child until after USCIS provisionally approves the Form I-800 petition, and the U.S. Embassy issues the Article 5/17 letter to IBESR, and IBESR in turn issues the authorization to adopt (autorisation d’adoption).
Plenary adoptions: Under the 2013 Haitian adoption law, all intercountry adoptions of Haitian children completed on or after November 15, 2013, must be completed as full (pleniere or plenary) adoptions. Plenary adoptions cannot be nullified, revoked, or revised. Additional guidance on obtaining consents to adoption in plenary adoptions and requirements related to children’s names after adoption is available in the Department’s October 22, 2015 Adoption Alert.
Moving children before and after adoption: Adoptive parents, adoption service providers, and other individuals are prohibited from moving children from the crèches or orphanages in which they were residing before the match was made by IBESR until after the exit letter is issued by IBESR at the end of the Convention adoption process (after the U.S. Embassy issues an immigrant visa).
Domestic adoptions in Haiti: Under Haiti’s 2013 adoption law, individuals seeking to complete a domestic adoption in Haiti must have resided in Haiti for at least five (5) years prior to starting the adoption process in order to be considered habitually resident in Haiti (regardless of citizenship). In addition, under Haiti’s 2013 adoption law, prospective adoptive parents must demonstrate that they intend to continue living in Haiti and have professional and personal ties to the country. Additionally, the Department of State and USCIS caution that, under U.S. law and regulations, prospective adoptive parents who adopted Haitian children under the Haitian domestic process will not be eligible to immigrate to the United States as adopted children until they meet the criteria for a Form I-130 petition as an immediate relative. More specifically, children adopted through the Haitian domestic process may not be eligible for U.S. immigrant visas on the basis of the adoption until the adoptive parents accrue two years’ legal custody and joint residence with the child outside the United States, among other requirements. Please see the USCIS website for additional information on this process. The information provided in the remainder of this webpage is intended for intercountry adoptions.
Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2014 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for Haiti), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, identifying Haiti as the country where you intended to adopt and the approval is still valid; 2) you filed a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, on behalf of a child from Haiti, or 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s case could continue to be processed as a non-Convention intercountry adoption, provided the child’s country of origin agrees. For more information, read about Hague Transition Cases. Please contact email@example.com with the details of the case if this situation applies to you.
Additional requirements apply to Haiti transition cases that meet exception 1 or 2 listed above. IBESR has agreed to process as a transition (non-Convention) case, any case in which a Form I-600 or I-600A was filed before April 1, 2014, as long as IBESR completes the matching by April 1, 2016. More information on the definition of transition cases as applied to adoptions from Haiti is available on the USCIS website.
U.S. Immigration Requirements for Intercountry Adoptions
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Haiti, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), determines who is suitable and eligible to adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law in order to immigrate to the United States with an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.
Who Can Adopt
In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child from Haiti must meet the following requirements imposed by Haiti:
- Residency: Under Haitian law, prospective adoptive parents seeking to complete an intercountry adoption from Haiti need to be habitually resident in another country, such as the United States.
- Age of Adopting Parents: If married or a couple living together, one of the prospective adoptive parents must be at least 30 years old; if single, a prospective adoptive parent must be at least 35 years old. No prospective adoptive parents may be over age 50 when their application to adopt (dossier) is submitted to IBESR, unless the prospective adoptive parents are adopting a relative.
In addition, prospective adoptive parents must be at least 14 years older than the child(ren) they seek to adopt. When adopting relatives, prospective adoptive parents must be at least nine (9) years older than the child(ren) they seek to adopt.
- Marriage: Prospective adoptive parents may be unmarried, married, or in common law relationships, although Haitian procedures do not allow adoptions by same-sex couples regardless of their marital status. Married couples must be living together and be able to provide proof that they have been married for at least five (5) years before seeking to adopt from Haiti. Couples in common-law relationships must provide proof of at least five (5) years’ co-residence.
- Income: Haitian law and procedures do not specify any income requirements for adoptions, although prospective adoptive parents must be able to provide proof of employment and financial stability.
- Other: Prospective adoptive parents may not submit an application to adopt again from Haiti until at least two years after a previous adoption was finalized in a Haitian court.
Any biological or adopted children age eight (8) years or older who are already in the prospective adoptive parents’ home must state their opinion regarding an adoption from Haiti.
Haitian law bars adoptions by any prospective adoptive parents who have been convicted of a felony or ever lost their parental rights over a child.
- Residency: Under Haitian law, prospective adoptive parents seeking to complete an intercountry adoption from Haiti need to be habitually resident in another country, such as the United States.
Who Can Be Adopted
Because Haiti is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, intercountry adoptions from Haiti must meet the requirements of the Convention in order for the child to be eligible to immigrate to the United States. This means the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Haiti have determined that placement of the child within Haiti has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.
Note: Under Haiti’s 2013 adoption law, the birth parents’ economic status is not considered sufficient grounds for a child to be placed for adoption. Only IBESR has the authority to determine whether a Haitian child is adoptable under Haitian law (regardless of whether the child will be placed domestically or through an intercountry adoption).
In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a child must meet the following requirements of Haiti:
- Relinquishment: Children may be relinquished for intercountry adoption by their birth parents or, in instances where both birth parents are deceased, by the local Family Council. The consent of only one birth parent is needed if the second birth parent is unknown, deceased, legally missing, or has had his/her parental rights terminated in a Haitian court.
Children may also be placed for intercountry adoption if a court determines that terminating the birth parents’ parental rights is in the child’s best interests. In these situations, consent to a plenary adoption must be provided by a legal guardian.
Consent to a child being considered for adoption may only be provided by a child’s birth parent(s) or legal guardian(s) after IBESR conducts a social evaluation. Any consent provided without this evaluation is invalid under Haitian law.
- Abandonment: Children whose birth mothers and birth fathers are unknown may be eligible for intercountry adoption, if a Tribunal of First Instance declares the child to have been abandoned. IBESR must first conduct a six-week search for the child’s family and extended relatives, and should not begin the search until after the child has resided at the orphanage for six months. Once an abandoned child is deemed a ward of the state, IBESR may propose that the child be placed for adoption. Consent to a plenary adoption would be provided by the mayor of the locality (commune) where the child was found.
- Age of Adoptive Child: Haitian children must be younger than 16 years old when the application for the child to be found eligible for intercountry adoption is submitted to IBESR. Children may not be placed for adoption, nor any consents to adoption provided by birth parents or other legal guardians, until a child is at least three (3) months old.
Please note that in order for a child to meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)). Please see the USCIS website for special rules on filing dates for children aged 15-16 or siblings aged 17-18.
- Sibling Adoptions: Haiti’s adoption law requires that siblings be placed with the same prospective adoptive parents, unless a competent authority determines that this is not in their best interests.
- Special Needs or Medical Conditions: IBESR defines children with special needs as children who suffer from behavior disorders or trauma, physical or mental disabilities, are age six (6) or older, and/or members of a sibling group.
- Waiting Period or Foster Care: None.
- Other: In intercountry adoptions, all known birth parent(s) or legal guardian(s) must give their informed and written consent to a plenary adoption in person to a Children’s Court judge. The consent may only be provided after the birth parents or legal guardians are counselled by IBESR as to the effect of a plenary adoption, IBESR conducts a family interview, and the child’s legal guardians undergo a physical, psychological, and socioeconomic assessment.
Children ages eight (8) years and older must be provided counselling by IBESR, and children ages 12 and older must consent to a plenary adoption in person to a Children’s Court judge.
Consent to an adoption may be retracted at any point during the first month after the consenting individual appears before the Children’s Court judge. The consent becomes final after one month. At this point, IBESR becomes the adoptable child’s legal guardian.
Crèches and orphanages are required to inform IBESR of the arrival of a child at their facilities within 48 hours. The person informing IBESR must be accompanied by the child’s birth parent(s) or legal guardian(s), and must provide IBESR with the child’s birth certificate.
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are available for adoption. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).
- Relinquishment: Children may be relinquished for intercountry adoption by their birth parents or, in instances where both birth parents are deceased, by the local Family Council. The consent of only one birth parent is needed if the second birth parent is unknown, deceased, legally missing, or has had his/her parental rights terminated in a Haitian court.
How to Adopt
Warning: Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Haiti before: 1) USCIS has approved your Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, 2) the Central Authority of Haiti has determined the child is available for intercountry adoption, 3) USCIS has provisionally approved your Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, and 4) a U.S. consular officer has issued an “Article 5/17 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
Haiti’s Central Adoption Authority
Institut du Bien-Être Social et de Recherches (IBESR)
Note: Special transition provisions may apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2014. Read about Hague Transition Cases.
Because Haiti is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Haiti must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided below. You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.
- Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider That Has Been Authorized by Haiti’s Central Authority to Operate in Haiti
- Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-800A)
- Apply to Haiti’s Authorities to Adopt and Be Matched with a Child
- Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee (Form I-800) and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption (Art. 5/17 letter)
- Adopt the Child in Haiti
- Obtain a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider That Has Been Authorized by Haiti’s Central Authority to Operate in Haiti
The first step in adopting a child from Haiti is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases and that has been authorized by IBESR to operate in Haiti. A primary provider must be identified in each Convention case and only accredited or approved adoption service providers may act as the primary provider in your case. Your primary provider is responsible for:
- Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided consistent with applicable laws and regulations;
- Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
- Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44.
Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must be found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS by submitting Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. You will need to submit a home study, fingerprints, and a background check as part of this application. Read more about Suitability and Eligibility Requirements.
3. Apply to Haiti’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child
Submit Your Dossier to the Central Authority
After USCIS determines that you are suitable and eligible to adopt and approves the Form I-800A application, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Haiti as part of your adoption application. Haiti’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under Haiti’s law.
Haiti’s adoption procedures require IBESR to review an application to adopt from Haiti, and determine if the dossier is complete and acceptable for receipt. Prospective adoptive parents or their adoption service provider should not pay the IBESR initiation fee until the dossier is officially received, and are strongly encouraged to obtain receipts for all fees associated with an adoption and paid in Haiti.
Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority
If both the United States and Haiti determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and Haiti’s Central Authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Central Authority for Convention adoptions in Haiti may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of the child. The adoption authority in Haiti will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a specific child and must conform to the recommendations in the home study submitted to USCIS for the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the central authority in Haiti. Learn more about this critical decision.
Haiti’s adoption law and procedures place no time limits on IBESR between its receipt of a family’s dossier and when it may make a referral for a particular child. However, prospective adoptive parents must inform IBESR in writing whether they will accept or refuse a proposed match within 15 days of the referral letter being issued. This acceptance of a match must be communicated to IBESR through the U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider that is serving as the primary provider for the adoption and is authorized by IBESR to operate in Haiti.
4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption
Submit a Petition for a Determination on the Child’s Immigration Eligibility
After you accept being matched with a particular child, you will apply to USCIS for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States by filing the Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child appears to meet the definition of a Convention adoptee and will likely be eligible to enter and remain in the United States.
Submit an Immigrant Visa Application
After provisional approval of Form I-800 petition, you or your adoption service provider will submit a visa application to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Haiti.
You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. Use this information to log into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to file the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form. A consular officer will review the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and the visa application and, if applicable, advises you of options for the waiver of any ineligibilities related to the visa application.
In order for the U.S. Embassy’s consular officer to review the petition and visa application, you will need to pay the immigrant visa application fee after filing the DS-260 online immigrant visa application. The fee can be paid to the cashier at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in U.S. dollars, Haitian Gourdes, or by credit card. Prospective adoptive parents should not pay this fee or any other “visa fees” to anyone outside the U.S. Embassy. Any requests for Embassy “document” fees or processing fees should be reported to the U.S. Embassy’s consular staff.
The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5/17 Letter”) to Haiti’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Haiti if all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform Haiti’s Central Authority that the parents are suitable and eligible to adopt, that the child appears eligible to enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.
Warning: Do not attempt to adopt of a child in Haiti before you receive provisional approval of your Form I-800 petition AND a U.S. consular officer issues the “Article 5/17 Letter” for your adoption case.
Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5. Adopt the Child in Haiti
Remember: Before you adopt a child in Haiti, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption.
The process for finalizing the adoption in Haiti generally includes the following:
Role of Adoption Authority: IBESR, as the Haitian Central Authority for adoptions, is responsible for all child welfare issues in Haiti. IBESR works with birth families to provide support so that children may remain with their families, authorizes foreign adoption service providers to facilitate adoptions from Haiti, and accredits Haitian crèches and orphanages to house children. It also promotes cooperation among the relevant child protection authorities and takes all appropriate measures to prevent illegal behavior and improper financial gain during the child’s placement.
IBESR provides counselling and support to a child’s legal guardians. If the child cannot remain with his or her family, IBESR ensures that the legal guardians (who may include birth parents) understand the consequences of consenting to a plenary adoption before IBESR issues the pre-consent form (preconsentement) confirming the counselling occurred. IBESR also provides counselling to children ages eight (8) and older. Haitian courts will not proceed with an intercountry adoption without this form.
IBESR is also responsible for:
- Making decisions about the temporary placement of children in crèches, orphanages, or foster homes;
- Proposing that children who are wards of the State be placed for adoption;
- Conducting family interviews and the physical, psychological, and socioeconomic assessment of children whose families or legal guardians are considering consenting to adoptions;
- Maintaining a physical and electronic record of all children who receive IBESR services, including adoption processing;
- Reviewing prospective adoptive parents’ applications to adopt from Haiti and determining if they meet Haitian criteria to adopt;
- Making the match between prospective adoptive parents and a proposed adoptee (in both domestic and intercountry adoptions);
- Issuing the official referral letter, with the child’s background report (Article 16 letter);
- Authorizing and supervising the 15-day familiarization period in Haiti, and then issuing a report on the familiarization period;
- Issuing the authorization to move forward with an adoption (autorisation d’adoption) within 10 days of receiving the familiarization period report;
- Issuing a “certificate of conformity” (certificat de conformité ) under Article 23 of the Convention, certifying that a Convention adoption complied with the Convention and Haitian adoption laws and procedures, within 10 business days of receiving a request for the certificate; and
- Issuing the exit letter authorizing an adopted child to depart Haiti, after the child receives his/her U.S. immigrant visa.
Note: Only the IBESR office in Port-au-Prince can authorize an adoption. IBESR regional offices do not have this authority. This step is often the most time-consuming in the overall adoption process. Each case is unique, and some are more complicated than others. The Immigrant Visa/Adoptions Unit of the U.S. Embassy has no authority over, or ability to influence, how quickly or in what order IBESR processes its caseload.
- Role of the Court: Several Haitian courts have a role in the intercountry adoption process:
The Justice of the Peace (Tribunal de Paix) has jurisdiction over the place where an abandoned child was found and issues the declaration of abandonment.
The Judge of the Children’s Court (Tribunal pour Enfants) is responsible for receiving birth parents’ or legal guardians’ consents to plenary adoptions and issuing a record of the consent. Children’s Court judges also oversee cases where a child’s birth parents are stripped of their parental rights and the child is made a ward of the State. They also issue temporary placement orders confirming temporary placements authorized by IBESR.
The Tribunal of First Instance (Tribunal de Premier Instance) deliberates and issues a decision granting or denying an adoption following a review by the court’s Chief Prosecutor (Commissaire du Gouvernement); if approved, the court will issue an adoption judgment (homologue). If approval is denied due to a procedural error, the file is sent back to IBESR for correction. If the adoption is denied on its merits, the prospective adoptive parents have 30 days from the date of the judgment to file an appeal. Birth family members and other parties have 30 days after an adoption is approved to file an appeal.
If there is no appeal and the judgment was stamped by the Director General of Taxation, the Tribunal of First Instance will enforce (exequatur) the judgment and issue the adoption order (acte d’adoption). Then, the Dean (Doyen) of the Tribunal serves notice on the Civil Registrar’s Office / Vital Statistics Office (Officier d’Etat Civil) of the adoption approval. After the Civil Registrar’s Office issues and signs the adoption decree, the Tribunal of First Instance will legalize the decree.
In situations where U.S. adoptive parents previously completed a simple adoption, did not add their surname to the child’s name, or did not remove a child’s original surname, the Tribunal of First Instance will need to take additional steps. Please see our past Adoption Alert for guidance on how to correct or convert the case.
- Role of Other Haitian Ministries: Several additional Haitian ministries have roles in the adoption process:
The local mayor is responsible for obtaining the birth certificates for children whom IBESR has deemed to be abandoned and for providing any necessary consents to adoption for abandoned children. No fees should be charged for the consent.
The local Family Council provides consent to adoptions in situations where a Haitian child’s birth parents are unable to consent themselves.
The Office of the Civil Registrar / Vital Statistics (Officier d’Etat Civil) has jurisdiction over where the child is from and issues children’s birth certificates, issues and signs the final adoption decree (certificate of the acte d’adoption) after the Tribunal of First Instance approves an adoption, and with regards to birth family members, would have previously issued all relevant birth, death, and marriage certificates. The Office is required to issue the adoption decree within five (5) days of receiving the application.
The National Archives (Les Archives Nationales d'Haiti) maintains records of all birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage certificates previously issued by the Civil Registrar. It also attests the adoption decree after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs legalizes the document.
The Director General of Taxation (Direction Générale des Impôts) must stamp the adoption judgement (homologue) before it can be enforced by the Tribunal of First Instance.
The Ministry of Justice (Ministère de la Justice et de la Sécurité Publique) must legalize the adoption order (acte d’adoption) after the Tribunal of First Instance legalizes the document.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministère des Affaires Etrangères) must legalize the adoption order (acte d’adoption)after the Ministry of Justice legalizes the document.
The Ministry of Interior (Ministère de l’Intérieur et des Collectivites Territoriales) issues an adopted child’s Haitian passport, after the adoption decree is legalized by the Tribunal of First Instance, and the adoption order (acte d’adoption) is legalized by the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs.
Role of Adoption Agencies: The U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider facilitates adoptions by U.S. prospective adoptive parents in Haiti. The U.S. adoption service provider conducts or oversees the prospective adoptive parents’ home study to ensure that it complies with both U.S. and state laws where the prospective adoptive parents reside. After the approval of the Form I-800A and provisional approval of the Form I-800, the adoption service provider coordinates with the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince for issuance of an Article 5/17 letter.
U.S. adoption service providers facilitate intercountry adoptions to the United States by:
- Submitting the prospective adoptive parents’ application to IBESR to adopt from Haiti;
- Receiving from IBESR and forwarding to prospective adoptive parents a proposed match;
- Conveying the prospective adoptive parents’ acceptance or refusal of a match, in writing, to IBESR;
- Hiring a legal representative, or working with the prospective adoptive parents’ legal representative, to represent the family in court;
- Applying, via the legal representative, to the Dean of the Tribunal of First Instance for a hearing after IBESR issues the authorization to adopt;
- Requesting, via the legal representative, that the Tribunal of First Instance enforce (exequatur) the initial adoption judgment (homologue) after the 30-day appeal period ends;
- Obtaining the adoption decree from the Civil Registrar and moving it through the legalization process;
- Applying for and obtaining the adopted child’s Haitian passport;
- Requesting the final certificate of conformity (certificat de conformité) of the Convention adoption;
- Paying all authorized required fees on the family’s behalf during the Haitian parts of the intercountry adoption process; and
- Completing and providing to IBESR at least the first four (4) of the seven (7) required post-adoption reports. (See information on post-adoption reporting below for details.)
Under Haitian laws and procedures, in order to operate in Haiti, the U.S. adoption service provider must:
- Be officially accredited or approved by a U.S. Accrediting Entity to provide services in Convention adoptions involving the United States;
- Be authorized by IBESR to work in Haiti;
- Have sufficient resources and staff to carry out its mission;
- Work only for non-profit purposes;
- Acquire no improper financial gain or unreasonably high remuneration for services provided;
- Provide IBESR with every required post-adoption report related to an adoption the adoption service provider facilitated from Haiti;
- Send IBESR an annual report, including a financial report, on its activities in Haiti; and
- Avoid any contact with the birth parents, legal guardians, or persons responsible for child’s care before IBESR makes the match.
Time Frame: Intercountry adoptions in Haiti generally take more than 18 months, and can take as long as three (3) years, to complete.
Several known timeframes in the adoption process are:
- It normally takes six (6) to eight (8) months for qualifying prospective adoptive parents to receive a proposed match from IBESR, although there is no specified or required timeframe in which IBESR must make a match;
- Prospective adoptive parents are allowed up to 15 days to decide whether to accept or refuse a proposed match;
- The familiarization period lasts 15 days (or more) and must be completed in Haiti;
- It normally takes another six (6) to eight (8) months for IBESR to issue the authorization to adopt (autorisation d’adoption) after the familiarization period finishes, though there is no specified to required time frame in which such authorization must be issued;
- There is a mandatory 30-day appeal period after an adoption is granted in the Tribunal of First Instance;
- Obtaining the required legalizations of the adoption decree can take several months;
- IBESR has 10 business days to review a request for a certificate of conformity (certificat de conformité) and potentially issue the certificate; and
- Obtaining an adopted child’s Haitian passport can take an additional two (2) to three (3) months.
Adoption Application: Prospective adoptive parents must submit the documents noted below in the “Documents Required” bullet to IBESR via their adoption service provider. IBESR will review each application before deciding if it can be officially received.
Adoption Fees: Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either directly or through your U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to the Convention, U.S. law, or the law of Haiti with your adoption service provider, or, when appropriate, the Hague Complaint Registry. For more information in this regard, please refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry. Improper payments may violate applicable law or create the appearance of child buying, and could put all future adoptions in Haiti at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to bribe foreign government officials to obtain or retain business. Further, the IAA makes certain actions relating to intercountry adoptions unlawful, and subject to civil and criminal penalties. These include offering, giving, soliciting, or accepting inducement intended to influence or affect the relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing a central authority function, or to engage another person as an agent to take any such action.
In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from Haiti include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Child’s original documents (birth certificate, etc.) from Office of Civil Registrar: 5,700 Gourdes (~ $95 at mid-February 2016 exchange rates)
- IBESR counselling to child’s legal guardian (psychologist fee): 12,500 Gourdes (~ $210)
Fees due with the prospective adoptive parents’ application to adopt from Haiti:
- Application to IBESR (initiation fee): 15,000 Gourdes (~ $250)
- Orphanage fee: 276,000 Gourdes (~ $4,618)
- Medical insurance fee, per child: 46,000 Gourdes (~ $770)
- IBESR processing fee: 46,000 Gourdes (~ $770)
- Social worker’s report on the child: 18,000 Gourdes (~ $ 301)
- Request for Tribunal of First Instance hearing: 1,500 Gourdes (~ $25)
- Adoption judgment (homologue) from Tribunal of First Instance: 1,000 Gourdes (~ $17)
- Stamp by Director General of Taxation: 1,400 Gourdes (~ $23)
- Adoption decree (certificate) from Office of Civil Registrar: 2,000 Gourdes (~ $33) or more
- Ministry of Interior passport fee: at least 500 Gourdes (~ $8)
- IBESR exit letter (issued by the Office of Social Defense): 3,000-5,000 Gourdes (~ $49-82)
No fees are charged for a crèche/orphanage’s application to IBESR for a child to be found eligible for adoption or for IBESR’s certificate of conformity (certificat de conformité). There should also be no fees charged in abandonment cases to get the commune mayor to appear in court to provide consents to adoption.
Documents Required: All documents submitted to IBESR in your application to adopt must be translated into French by a sworn translator and authenticated. The following documents are required by IBESR to process an adoption application:
- A request letter addressed to the President of IBESR, personally signed by the prospective adoptive parent(s), outlining the reasons for requesting an adoption from Haiti and providing the prospective adoptive parent’s status and profile, sex, age, and number;
- The home study provided to USCIS with the Form I-800A application, translated into French, including the social evaluation report and physical and psychological status report;
- A copy of the Form I-800A application submitted to USCIS, as completed by the prospective adoptive parent(s) or the adoption service provider;
- The Form I-800A approval notice from USCIS, conveying that the prospective adoptive parent(s) is(are) suitable and eligible to adopt;
- Certified copies of the prospective adoptive parent(s) birth certificate(s);
- A certified copy of the prospective adoptive parents’ marriage certificate, if applicable;
- Proof of a common-law union/relationship approved by the appropriate body in their place of residence, if applicable;
- A copy of a criminal record issued by the appropriate judicial unit;
- Proof of employment, specifying the duties performed, the start date, and the salary;
- Documents showing financial stability (bank statement, notarized instruments, documents that prove the existence of movable and immovable property, etc.);
- Two (2) notarized letters of reference;
- Three (3) recent identity photos of each prospective adoptive parent; and
- A copy of the identification page from each prospective adoptive parent’s passport.
- If the adoption involves a match proposed to IBESR by the crèche/orphanage director, then the adoption service provider must also provide the following documents to IBESR:
- A timeline of all decisions related to the child, his/her placement at the crèche/orphanage, his/her being found eligible for adoption, etc.;
- Documentation of all fees associated with acquiring the child’s documents, including who paid for the documents and whether the adoption service provider or prospective adoptive parents provided the funds to the crèche/orphanage;
- Evidence that the crèche/orphanage director does not work or receive any salary or other benefits from the adoption service provider, and is not making matching proposals in coordination with the adoption service provider or prospective adoptive parent(s), though we do not yet have clarity on how this would be documented; and
- A letter from the crèche/orphanage director to IBESR explaining why he/she wishes to propose a match between a Haitian child at the crèche/orphanage and a particular prospective adoptive parent.
Adoptive parents or adoption service providers seeking to obtain the certificate of conformity (certificat de conformité) from IBESR must submit:
- A cover letter to the President of IBESR requesting the certificate and noting the attached documents;
- The IBESR authorization to adopt (autorisation d’adoption);
- The adoption judgement (homologue);
- The final adoption order (acte d’adoption);
- The consent document(s) written in front of the Judge of the Children’s Court; and
- A copy of the Article 5/17 letter issued by the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince.
IBESR must also receive the following documents from the crèche/orphanage on the child to make a determination of eligibility for adoption:
- A copy of the crèche or orphanage’s authorization to operate from 2014-2016;
- A certified copy from the Office of the Civil Registrar of the:
- Child’s birth certificate;
- Birth parents’ birth certificates, if the parents are known;
- Birth parents’ death certificate(s), if applicable;
- Birth parents’ marriage certificate, if applicable;
In the case of abandoned children:
- The declaration of abandonment issued by the Justice of the Peace, and
- A court decision certifying the child as an abandoned child;
- In the case of orphaned children (as defined by Haitian law, both parents deceased), the record of the Family Council formation and the court decision approving the decision to place the child for adoption;
- In the case of children placed by IBESR in temporary living situations, a placement order issued by the judge (original + 1 copy);
- In the situation where the birth parents are under 18 years old, the certificate issued by a judge authorizing consent to the adoption;
- The IBESR temporary placement decision, if applicable;
- Reports on the child:
- Detailed medical report,
- Psychological report, and
- Social evaluation report;
- Three recent photos of the child;
- A copy of the Haitian National Identification Card (CIN) or passport photo page of the child’s birth parent(s) or legal guardian(s); and
- A record of the consent to adoption issued by the Children’s Court judge (original + 1 copy).
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office has information on the subject.
6. Obtain a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete, there are a few more steps to take before your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
If you have finalized the adoption in Haiti, you will first need to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.
Haitian birth certificates are issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar / Vital Statistics (Etat Civil) with jurisdiction over the child’s place of origin. Adoptive parents’ adoption service provider or legal representatives should apply to the Office of the Civil Registrar for the child’s new birth certificate. In general, birth certificates should cost 5,700 Gourdes (~ $95 at mid-February 2016 exchange rates).
Note: Under Haitian law, an adopted child must take on the surname of his/her adoptive parents. In addition, a child’s birth surname must be removed as part of the adoption process and should not appear on the new birth certificate (even as a middle name).
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Haiti.
Haitian passports are issued by the Ministry of Interior, Bureau of Immigration (Bureau d'Immigration et d'Emmigration). Adoptive parents’ adoption service provider or legal representatives should apply to the Ministry of Interior for the child’s passport. In general, passports should cost at least 500 Gourdes. You will likely need the following documents:
- Adoption decree (certificate showing the acte d’adoption);
- Birth certificate or extract;
- IBESR-issued authorization to adopt (autorisation d’adoption);
- Notarized authorization for passport issuance form (if passport requested by a non-parent); and
- Identity card of the adult applying on behalf of the minor.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. After the adoption for a final review of the case, and if applicable, the issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate, the final approval of the Form I-800 petition, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince by email at PAPadoptions@state.gov to schedule your child’s immigrant visa appointment. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if you did not provide it during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.
Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please be sure to complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.
Visa issuance after the final interview generally occurs in two work days. Intercountry adoptions are the highest priority immigrant visa category and the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section will make every effort to issue the visa promptly within its regular workweek. However, system constraints, local holidays, and other circumstances may cause delays. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince before making final travel arrangements.
Haitian Travel Authorization Letter
You will also need to obtain a travel authorization, called an exit letter, from IBESR in order to depart Haiti with a minor child. To obtain this, you will need to bring the following documents to IBESR:
· A letter from the director of the crèche where the child resides explaining that the adoption has occurred in accordance with Haiti’s procedures, noting the child resided at the crèche/orphanage from first arrival or placement;
- The adoption judgment (homologue);
- The final adoption order (acte d’adoption); and
- A copy of the child’s passport identification page and the receiving country’s visa.
You may also need to provide any or all of the following:
- Minutes from the Tribunal of First Instance (2 copies);
- Adoption decree (certificate showing the acte d’adoption; 2 copies);
- IBESR-issued authorization to adopt (autorisation d’adoption; 2 copies);
- The biographic information passport page(s) of the adoptive parent(s) (2 copies);
- Child’s passport photos (2); and
- Identity card of the crèche/orphanage manager (2 copies).
Normal processing time for this letter is three (3) business days, although it is possible to request an expedited letter. Adoptive parents can begin this process after they receive their adopted child’s U.S. immigrant visa. The cost is 3,000-5,000 Gourdes (~ $49-82 at mid-February 2016 exchange rates). For questions on this, please contact your adoption service provider or IBESR.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.
For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for any international travel. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Department of State’s Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Haiti
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa to travel abroad. Where required, visas are affixed to a traveler’s passport and allow him or her to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Haiti, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State through our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. Enrollment makes it possible for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Haiti, to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Haiti, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Haiti requires that adoptive parents provide post-adoption reports on the status of children adopted from Haiti for a period of five years. This series of up to seven (7) reports is designed to show the evolution and integration of the child within his/her adoptive family and environment. They are due at the following time intervals: six (6) months after the child’s arrival with his/her adoptive family, then following at the 12 (1 year), 18 (1.5 years), 24 (2 years), 36 (3 years), 48 (4 years), and 60 (5 years) month marks. The reporting requirements end when the child turns 18. The last three reports (months 36, 48, and 60) may be completed by an entity other than your authorized adoption service provider, and can be submitted directly to IBESR by the adoptive parents.
Your authorized adoption service provider is responsible for transmitting at least the first four (4) reports to IBESR (months 6, 12, 18, and 24). The post-adoption report must include a cover letter, a psychological report on the child, a medical evaluation of the child, school results, and a social evaluation. All documents must be in French or include certified translations into French.
We urge you to comply with Haiti’s post-adoption/post-placement requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption service provider may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that Haiti’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. You may wish to take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. Your primary provider can provide or point you to post- placement/post-adoption services to help your adopted child and your family transition smoothly and deal effectively with the many adjustments required in an intercountry adoption.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of content.
If you have concerns about your adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of State takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously. Our Adoption Comment Page provides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-800 petition process.
The Hague Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about the compliance of U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers with U.S. accreditation standards. If you think your provider's conduct may have been out of substantial compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Hague Complaint Registry.
U.S. Embassy in Haiti
Consular Section (Adoptions Unit)
Boulevard du 15 Octobre
Tel: +509-2229-8000 (within Haiti); 1-866-829-2482 (from the United States)
Haiti’s Adoption Authority
Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR)
13 Rue des Marguerites
Tel: +509 2816-1559
Embassy of Haiti
2311 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 332-4090
Fax: (202) 745-7215
Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or a Form I-800 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC)
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
For questions about transition cases and cases that do not fall under the Convention:
USCIS Port-au-Prince Field Office
Boulevard du 15 Octobre
Tel: +509-2229-8000, extension 8600 or 8184 (within Haiti); 011-509-2229-8000, extension 8600 or 8184 (from the United States)