Adoption Alert - 1/19/10
Haiti is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (
Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore, when the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, intercountry adoption processing for Haiti did not change.
Haitian law does not allow for a Haitian child to travel to the United States to be adopted. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents must obtain a full and final adoption under Haitian law before the child can immigrate to the United States. Prospective adoptive parents can expect a lengthy process to adopt a child in Haiti.
Haitian courts, in some jurisdictions such as Port au Prince, require American prospective adoptive parents to travel to Haiti to appear before a justice of the peace in consent proceedings before the adoption is finalized. The U.S. Government does not require adoptive parents to travel to Haiti at any time during the adoption and immigrant visa process. While It is our understanding that this should only take one trip to Haiti to complete the process, the number of trips will depend heavily on the local agents in scheduling and planning on behalf of their clients, the availability of the consenting parties, and of course on the availability of the magistrates.
WHO CAN ADOPT
To bring an adopted child to United States from Haiti, you must be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Haiti also has the following eligibility requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- Residency Requirements: Haitian law does not require prospective adoptive parents to reside in Haiti, although Haitian courts and/or the Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR, the Haitian adoption authority) may require American prospective adoptive parents to travel to Haiti before the adoption is finalized. The U.S. Government does not require adoptive parents to travel to Haiti at any time during the adoption and immigrant visa process.
- Age Requirements: Under Haitian law, the prospective adoptive parent must be 35 or older. For married couples, one prospective adoptive parent may be under age 35, provided the couple has been married for ten years and has no biological children. The adoptive parent must be at least 19 years older than the child they intend to adopt. These restriction can be waived with permission from the President of Haiti.(please see note below on “Waiver of Ineligibility.”)
- Marriage Requirements: Adoptions by married couples require the consent of both spouses. This restriction can be waived with permission from the President of Haiti. (please see note below on “Waiver of Ineligibility.”)
Note: U.S. immigration procedures still require the signature of both spouses on the USCIS Form I-600 (Petition to Classify Orphan as Immediate Relative).
- Other Requirements: Haitian law permits adoptions by single parents, provided they meet the age requirements.
- Waiver of Ineligibility: While Presidential waivers of ineligibility are sometimes issued, they are difficult to obtain and require a lengthy period of time to process. Prospective adoptive parents who do not fit the guidelines should consider not adopting in Haiti.
Haiti has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. You cannot adopt a child in Haiti unless he or she meets the requirements outlined below.
In addition to these requirements, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law for you to bring him or her back to the United States. Learn more about U.S. requirements.
- Relinquishment Requirements: Prospective adoptive parent(s) must obtain consent from the child’s surviving parent(s) or legal guardian. Known as the “Extrait des Minutes du Greffe du Tribunal de Paix“, this document describes the proceeding during which prospective adoptive parents and the child’s biological parents or legal guardians agree to the adoption. Such proceeding takes place at the office of the Justice of the Peace with jurisdiction over the residence of the child. In some jurisdictions, such as Port au Prince, prospective adoptive parents are required to appear personally before the justice of the peace to effect consent before the adoption is finalized.
- Abandonment Requirements: If the biological parents of the child are deceased, their Extrait de l’acte de Decès (extract of the death certificate) must be obtained from the Haitian National Archives.
HOW TO ADOPT
Haitian Adoption Authority
Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches (IBESR)
The process for adopting a child from Haiti generally includes the following steps:
1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
3. Be Matched with a Child
4. Adopt the Child in Haiti
5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
6. Bring Your Child Home
1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
The first step in adopting a child from Haiti is usually to select a licensed agency in the United States that can help with your adoption. Adoption agencies must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. Learn more about choosing the right adoption service provider.
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/or the licensing authority in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
To bring an adopted child from Haiti to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the requirements of Haiti as described in the Who Can Adopt tab.
3. Be Matched with a Child
Prospective adoptive parents must submit the Extrait des Minutes du Greffe du Tribunal de Paix (minutes of the legal consent proceedings) or Extrait de l’acte de Decès (extract of the death certificates of the biological parents), if applicable to IBESR, which will investigate, among other things, the medical and psychological well-being of the prospective adoptive parents and child. If you are found to be eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, IBESR will provide you with a referral to the child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child. Learn more about making this critical decision.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Haiti’s requirements. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.
4. Adopt the Child in Haiti
The process for finalizing an adoption in Haiti generally includes the following:
- Role of The Adoption Authority: If IBESR approves the adoption, it issues an Autorisation d’Adoption, Authorization of Adoption.
Note: Only the IBESR office in Port-au-Prince can authorize an adoption. IBESR regional offices do not have this authority. This second step is often the most time-consuming in the overall adoption process. Each case has different mitigating factors, some more complicated than others, all of which can have a direct impact on the length of time it takes IBESR to process an individual case. The Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy has no authority over or ability to influence how quickly IBESR processes its caseload or which cases it takes in which order.
- Role of the Court: Prospective adoptive parents must present the IBESR Authorization of Adoption to the Tribunal Civil (Civil Court) that has jurisdiction over the child’s residence in order to obtain an Acte d’Adoption (Adoption Act), which finalizes the adoption. Haitian courts, in some jurisdictions such as Port au Prince, require American prospective adoptive parents to travel to Haiti to appear before a justice of the peace in consent proceedings before the adoption is finalized. While it is our understanding that this should only take one trip to Haiti to complete the process, the number of trips will depend heavily on the local agents in scheduling and planning on behalf of their clients, the availability of the consenting parties, and of course on the availability of the magistrates.
- Adoption Application: Prospective adoptive parents should file their application with IBESR.
- Time Frame: The adoption process in Haiti frequently requires as long as eighteen months, primarily because the legal process is complex. Often adoption applications can take more than two years. Once an adoption case has been approved by IBESR and USCIS, the adoptive parent(s) must apply for a Haitian passport for the child; this process can take an additional two or three months after the receipt of the Acte d’Adoption. The Adoptions Unit recommends that the child obtain a valid Haitian passport once the adoption is complete. The Adoptions Unit will conduct the visa interview in the case once the applicant files a completed DS-230, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, and pays the required necessary fees. However, there is no guarantee that a visa will be granted after the visa interview. The granting of a visa depends on the applicant’s file being documentarily complete, and the applicant overcoming any visa ineligibility. If at the time of the visa interview the adoption case is complete and the immigrant visa is issuable, the visa itself is typically available within two business days.
- Adoption Fees: IBESR charges approximately $140 USD. Haiti’s courts charge for judicial services, but their fees are not fixed. Prospective adoptive parents should expect to pay varying court fees and expenses. It is not possible to determine the approximate total cost to adopt a child in Haiti because there are no set adoption fees. Some adoptive parents have reported paying $3,000 USD, excluding airfare; while others reported paying much larger sums. The Adoptions Unit recommends that prospective adoptive parents contact their local agents or adoption service providers to inquire about current fees as they are subject to change.
The adoptive parents must also pay the cost of the child’s medical examination. The fee is $40 USD for children under age 10. For children over the age of 10, the fee is $40 USD, plus an additional $110 USD for vaccinations. These fees do change periodically. Note that the vaccinations may be waived for completion in the United States if the child is under the age of 10.
Note: Haitian and U.S. law prohibit any payments to the child’s birth parent(s) or guardian(s) by the prospective adoptive parent(s) or their agents.
- Documents Required: All documents are required to be translated into French and authenticated by a Haitian consul in the United States. The following is a list of documents for the child that are required by IBESR to process an adoption application:
- Three identity photos;
- A Haitian legal document called the “Certificate of Abandonment” from the birth mother and father (if known);
- Relinquishment of parental rights from each birth parent (if the birth parents are deceased, the surviving relatives or legal guardian must issue this document);
- The child’s birth certificate, and the extract (official copy from the National Archives) of the birth certificate, if available;
- Death certificate of the birth parents (”l’acte de decès“), if applicable;
- The child’s social history, which is a statement prepared by a social worker appointed by IBESR, stating how the child became an abandoned child;
- A psychological evaluation of the child; and
- A complete medical report that includes tests for tuberculosis, HIV, and sickle cell anemia.
Note: Fraudulent documents are easily and cheaply available in Haiti and often can be obtained with much less effort than genuine documents. These documents may include birth certificates, death certificates, relinquishment documents purportedly issued by civil courts and even adoption authorizations. Documents are routinely submitted to the issuing authorities for verification. Fraudulent documents submitted for an immigrant visa petition for an adoptive child will result in the I-600 petition being returned to the USCIS office that approved the petition with a memorandum requesting reconsideration and possible revocation. Submission of additional documents in an attempt to “correct” the fraudulent documents does not offer relief of the fraud after the fact. Please insure that your chosen adoption agent, facilitator or orphanage director is aware of our policy in this regard
- A statement from the prospective adoptive parents that they plan to adopt a child in Haiti ;
- Three identity photos of each of the prospective adoptive parents;
- Birth certificate of each prospective adoptive parent (or Extrait de Naissance if born in Haiti);
- Marriage certificate of the prospective adoptive parents (Extrait de Mariage if married in Haiti; not required of single adoptive parent);
- An original notarized power of attorney designating whoever may act on the parents’ behalf in Haiti (if applicable; a fax copy is not sufficient);
- A report from the adoptive parent’s U.S. state of residence indicating that they are authorized to adopt a child;
- Financial documents, including tax returns, job letters, notarized bank account documents and copies of deeds and mortgages (prospective adoptive parents should forward the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support with the requisite attachments);
- An evaluation of the household environment in which the adoptive child will live (the home study conducted for the I-600A can be used to fulfill this requirement);
- A statement from a competent police authority in the prospective adoptive parent’s town of residence indicating the absence of a criminal record (this is included in the home study and the I-171H is sufficient for this requirement);
- Medical examination reports for the prospective adoptive parent(s);
- A psychological evaluation report of the prospective adoptive parent(s); and
- Two letters of reference.
Note: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.
- After IBESR approves the adoption, the Haitian courts require that prospective adoptive parents submit the following documents:
- The adoptive parents’ birth certificates (if born in Haiti, these must be the official Extrait de l’acte de Naissance (Extract of Birth certificate) available from the Haitian National Archives);
- The child’s Extrait d’acte de Naissance; this should not be confused with the Acte de Naissance, the document upon which the Extrait is based;
- The adoptive parents’ marriage certificate, if applicable; and
- If the biological parents of the child are deceased, their Extrait d’acte de Decès (Extract of Death certificate) from the Haitian National Archives.
Note: Archives Nationales d’Haiti is the National Archives in Port-au-Prince and is the only Haitian agency with the authority to issue extracts related to acts of birth, death, marriage, and divorce. Each of these documents is based on an “acte” of birth, death, marriage, and divorce; this “acte” is rarely sufficient for IBESR or U.S. immigration purposes. The Immigrant Visa Unit of the U.S. Embassy has no authority over the National Archives or ability to influence how quickly it can provide required extracts.
5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
After you finalize the adoption in Haiti, the USCIS must determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. immigration law to be adopted (Form I-600). Learn how.
6. Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete, there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he or she will need a travel document or passport from Haiti. Haitian immigration authorities require that all Haitian children leave using Haitian passports that bear their adoptive name. The processing time for a Haitian passport can be as long as two or three months after the receipt of the final adoption act. The U.S. Embassy cannot issue U.S. passports to Haitian children, as U.S. passports are available only to U.S. citizens.
Note: The Adoptions Unit of the U.S. Embassy has no authority over or ability to influence how quickly the Haitian Immigration Office issues requested passports.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the U.S. Embassy for your child. After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child’s I-600 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Learn more.
When the Adoptions Unit receives the approved Form I-600 for the child, the Unit will contact the orphanage director/ adoption facilitator chosen by the adoptive parent(s) to request the submission of all the necessary civil documents to enable the conduct of the I-604 interview. If the I-600 was approved by a domestic office of USCIS, it is the responsibility of the Adoptions Unit to complete the I-604 Orphan Investigation before beginning immigrant visa processing. If the I-600 petition was filed at USCIS Port-au-Prince, USCIS will complete the I-604 Orphan Investigation prior to approving the I-600.
Note: All appointments and interviews must be scheduled with the Adoptions Unit in advance by email by the adoptions agent employed by the adoptive parent(s). Appointments are scheduled between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday; I-604 Orphan Investigation interviews with the birth parent(s) are scheduled on Wednesdays between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Upon arrival at the Consular Entrance, the agent should present a printed copy of the e-mailed appointment to the guard at the Consular Entrance. The agent will then be directed to the Adoptions unit assistant, who will address the specific purpose of the appointment.
Depending on where the I-600 was filed, there will be several steps to be completed prior to the final immigrant visa interview. Each child’s case must be complete and the child must qualify for immigration based on the laws and regulations set forth in the Immigration and Nationality Act (as amended). Adoptive parents often wish to be present for the final immigrant visa interview. However, they are strongly advised to wait until the immigrant visa itself has been issued and collected by the adoption agent working for them before traveling to Haiti. Please refer to Haiti’s Country Specific travel information at travel.state.gov.
Each adopted child must have a medical examination performed by one of the U.S. Embassy Consular Section’s panel physicians before he or she can be issued an immigrant visa. The Consular Section has a list of approved panel physicians for prospective adoptive parents’ reference; please contact the Adoption Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain an up-to-date copy of the list.
Several documents must be presented to the U.S. Embassy Adoption Unit at the visa interview so that an immigrant visa can be processed for the child:
- A Haitian passport reflecting the child’s legal name as shown on the Act of Adoption;
- Two standard identification photographs. The face of the child on the photo should measure approximately one inch from the chin to the top of the hair. The Immigrant Visa Unit accepts passport photographs that show a frontal image of the face, but it cannot accept images where the child’s face is turned;
- A medical report by an approved panel physician, including vaccinations (unless the prospective parent(s) of a child under age 10 intend to request a vaccination waiver);
Note: The panel physicians can only perform the required medical examination after the adopted child possesses a valid Haitian passport
- Form DS-230, the biographical data sheet for the child, completed by the adoption agent/ facilitator OR the adopting parent in the name of the adopted child;
- Either the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864W) executed by the petitioner if the adoptive parents have seen child before the date of issuance of the final adoption decree; OR, if the adoptive parents have not seen the child before the date of issuance of the final adoption decree, the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), 1040s and W-2s for the most recent year, along with evidence of current employment, such as a letter of employment or pay stubs executed by the petitioner. Adoptive parents who file joint tax returns must also complete form I-864A, which must be signed by both parents;
- The child’s birth certificate (Acte de Naissance) and, if available, extract of birth (Extrait de l’Acte de Naissance) from the Haitian National Archives;
- The Extrait des Minutes du Greffe of the Justice of the Peace with jurisdiction over the child’s place of domicile;
- The Authorization of Adoption from IBESR, indicating that the adoption conforms to the laws of Haiti;
- The Act of Adoption by the Civil Court with jurisdiction over the domicile of the child;
- Extract of death certificate (Extrait de l’ Acte de Decès) of the deceased biological parent(s) from the Haitian National Archives, if applicable. Other documentation of the death of a biological parent might include the burial permit, receipts for the funeral, etc;
- Sufficient funds to satisfy all applicable fees. The U.S. Embassy cashier accepts credit cards, but the Adoptions Unit has experienced occasional difficulties with credit card processing.
Note: To obtain a visa of the category IR3 allowing the child to become a U.S. citizen upon admission into the United States, adoptive parents must show evidence that they have personally seen the child before the issuance of the final Adoption Act.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Haiti. 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 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 Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you 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’s always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the 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 register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there’s a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Haiti, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does Haiti require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
Haiti does not have any post-adoption requirements.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family — whether it’s another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
U.S. Embassy in Haiti
Consular Section (Adoptions Unit)
Boulevard du 15 Octobre
Tel: 509-2229-8000 (from Haiti); 1-866-829-2842 (from the United States)
Mailing address in the United States:
U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince
3400 Port-au-Prince Pl.
Washington, DC 20521-3400
Haitian Adoption Authority
Institut du Bien Etre Social et de Recherches” (IBESR)
18 rue des marguerites
Embassy of Haiti
2311 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 332-4090
Fax: (202) 745-7215
Note: Haiti also has consulates in New York, Miami, Chicago, and Boston. In addition, Haiti has honorary consuls located in the following cities who may perform authentication services: Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, Evansville, New Orleans, St. Louis, San Francisco and Trenton.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, contact the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at
1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833).
DISCLAIMER: The preceding is intended as a general guide to assist U.S. citizens who plan to adopt a child from a foreign country. Three sets of laws are particularly relevant: 1) the laws of the child’s country of birth govern all activity in that country including the eligibility of individual children for adoption, as well as the adoption of children in that country in general; 2) the laws of the adoptive parents’ state of residence establish qualifications they must meet in order to adopt; and 3) U.S. immigration law governs the immigration of the child to the United States. In addition, the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, to which the United States became a party on April 1, 2008, establishes legal and regulatory requirements for intercountry adoption.
The adoption of children from countries that are party to the Hague Convention must follow the procedures outlined by the Convention, and its U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA). More information on the IAA and the Convention can be found at www.travel.state.gov on the Children and Family pages on intercountry adoption.
The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. It does not necessarily reflect the actual state of the laws of a child’s country of birth and is provided for general information only. Moreover, U.S. immigration law, including regulations and interpretation, changes from time to time. This flyer reflects our current understanding of the law as of this date and is not legally authoritative. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel
Credits: U.S. Department of State - October 2009