One of the primary reasons we came to Haiti was the recent vote by the Haitian government to ratify the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. Joint Council has been involved with the Convention since its beginnings in 1993, so when we were asked to provide some input into the Haitian process, it was an easy and eager yes.
The Haitian government, specifically the Institute of Social Welfare and Research (IBESR), has made great strides in serving and protecting children. The new Director at IBESR, Mme. Arielle Jeanty Villedrouin, was appointed only seven months ago yet already she has moved the country towards implementation of the Convention, registered approximately 500 previously unregistered children’s homes, conducted assessments of 200 and closed three of the worst. Most recently she closed an orphanage that although it was receiving funding from sources in three countries, the conditions were such that some children’s ears were being chewed by rats. Having worked in Haiti for 12 years, it is extremely encouraging to see such an educated, impassioned and committed leader at IBESR.
As Mme. Villedrouin moves Haiti toward implementation of the Convention, we are confident that Haiti will not add itself to the list of countries where premature implementation resulted in a closure of adoption, rather than a strengthening of protections and services. As we said to Mme. Villedrouin, we fully support Haiti’s implementation of the Convention and the protections it will bring to children and families and encourage IBESR to use the Hague Guide to Good Practice as the framework for implementation. In short, the Hague’s Guide calls for creation of all necessary laws, regulations and processes prior to the Convention ‘entering into force’ in Haiti.
And we are also very encouraged by the Presidential Decree appointing IBESR as the Haitian Central Authority for the Convention. With such astute and capable leadership, we are sure that Haiti will be one of the first developing countries to use the Convention to protect children and preserve their right to a permanent, safe family.