Helping Haiti’s Vulnerable Children

Last Updated: April 10, 2024

The Department of State has received inquiries from U.S. citizens concerned about the plight of children in Haiti during the ongoing crisis. We share this concern and we know many U.S. citizens want to open their homes to these children.  Here is USAID’s information on how you can help reputable relief organizations working in Haiti.

It can be very difficult during crises to determine whether children who appear to be orphans have truly lost their parents or caregivers. The vast majority –as high as 80 percent – of the children in public and private residential care institutions (often called orphanages) in Haiti have parents who felt they had no other choice than to place their child in the institution so they can be provided food, shelter, and an education. Many children living in residential care could be reunited with their families with appropriate support. The organizations listed here work with Haitian authorities to support the reunification of children separated from their families and placed in residential care, even during these times of crisis. 

Moving these children to another place makes it harder to reunite them with their families when circumstances permit. Evacuating children without parental consent and government authorization breaks global guidelines. It violates best practices. It can cause permanent family separation and child trafficking. This happened after Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and in other past crises. 

During emergencies, like natural disaster and conflict, international law clearly says that adoption is not for unaccompanied and separated children. The fate of a child's parents or other close relatives in Haiti is uncertain. Until the authorities confirm it, each separated child should be seen as having living relatives or legal guardians. During crises, it can also be very hard to meet the legal requirements for intercountry adoption. This is true for both the United States and the child’s country of origin, in this case, Haiti. Gathering the needed documents to show the child meets U.S. immigration law is hard. So, adoptive parents may want to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. They should also be very careful when considering adopting or caring for a child under these circumstances. For background, you may wish to review our website. It has general procedural information on applying to adopt and bring a child from another country to the United States. Here is information about the U.S. immigrant visa process for an eligible adopted child.