Haiti: A Message from the Office of Children’s Issues and Embassy Port-au-Prince

Last Updated: January 31, 2020

The Department of State, Office of Children’s Issues, wishes to remind prospective adoptive parents and adoption service providers to review Haiti’s Travel Advisory and Country Information Page before considering travel to Haiti. This travel advisory applies to all U.S. citizen travelers to Haiti, regardless of their purpose of travel. Haiti’s current Travel Advisory is Level 3; Reconsider Travel, due to crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping. Travelers are sometimes targeted, followed, violently attacked, and robbed shortly after leaving the Port-au-Prince International Airport. According to press reports, one such incident led to the recent tragic murder of travelers.

The Adoptions Unit at the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince and the Office of Children’s Issues have received numerous inquiries about the current security situation in Haiti. We recognize that given recent events, prospective adoptive parents are particularly concerned about travel to Haiti at this time to complete their socialization period. The Embassy engages regularly with the government of Haiti, including the Haitian Central Adoption Authority, L'Institut du Bien-Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR), regarding U.S. citizens pursuing adoptions in Haiti, and will continue to do so at every possible opportunity. The welfare and protection of U.S. citizens abroad is our top priority.

Intercountry adoptions in Hague Convention countries must be completed in accordance with U.S. laws and regulations, Convention procedures, and the laws of the country of origin. A socialization period of 14 days is required under Article 52 of Haiti’s adoption law after a match is accepted by the prospective adoptive parents. The socialization period is an integral requirement of the adoption process that IBESR is unable to waive. However, we have been informed by IBESR that they will consider reducing the length of the socialization period on a case by case basis. Prospective adoptive parents who are interested in a reduced socialization period should request their adoption service provider to contact IBESR for further information.

Many parents at the end of the adoption process have inquired whether they may authorize an appropriate individual to escort their adopted child to the United States rather than traveling to Haiti themselves to take physical custody of their child.  We have been informed by IBESR that this process is permissible under Haitian law. We recommend that each family work with their adoption service provider to ensure that any arrangements are done in accordance with U.S. laws and regulations, including 22 CFR Part 96, and any necessary documentation is completed. Adoption service providers should provide an estimate of the costs parents may incur using this travel process and parents should document all additional expenses. 

Additionally, any potential escort must have a valid visa or travel document that allows travel to the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) evaluates all travelers at the port of entry prior to admission to the United States and a valid U.S. visa is not a guarantee of admission. An individual who is escorting a child to whom they are not related may be subject to questioning by U.S. CBP officers about the purpose of his/her travel and why s/he is accompanying an unrelated child to the United States. Adoptive parents may wish to consider meeting their child at the port of entry in the United States so they can be available if any questions arise or documentation is necessary.  For additional information, please see the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website at https://www.cbp.gov/

Any non-U.S. citizen who needs a visa to travel to the United States must meet the qualifications for the visa class they apply for. There is no guarantee that a potential escort’s new visa application will be approved by U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince.  Please keep this information in mind when selecting an escort for a child. For questions about the visa process, visit https://ht.usembassy.gov/visas/ or contact support-haiti@ustraveldocs.com.

Should adoption service providers or adoptive families have any questions or concerns, please email the Office of Children’s Issues at adoption@state.gov or the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince’s Adoption Unit at papadoptions@state.gov.