When our friends at Project Hopeful asked last week if they could intervene and help us raise the funds we need to bring AJ home from Haiti, I was nervous.
I don't want anyone to think for a minute that I write this blog as a lead up to asking for money.
But truthfully we need your help.
We need to reproduce all of our adoption documents and our son's passport in Haiti. (Note that this is not "readopting" - the adoption is finalized. What we need to do is recreate documents that are no longer available to us.)
"WHAT's that?" you ask. You've never heard of this situation?! Neither had we. How could a family be completely done with their adoption, legal parents of a child, adoption fully paid for and yet unable to bring him home?
From our Facebook announcement last year:
Final Haitian dossier, minus the blood, sweat and tears.
The short story is that we worked with an adoption facilitator in Haiti who, in our opinion, is not operating with transparency. The "agency" involved has been withholding our adoption dossier (see explanation of a "dossier" under photo above) and passport from us for the last several months. Essentially keeping AJ held in Haiti. Without the original dossier documents the U.S. embassy will not issue a visa.
We did all we could to find an agency that we thought would be ethical, experienced and that promoted Christian values. We never saw this coming. In the end it is clear that we were naive and our family is now paying the price.
We hope that our honesty will help to prevent you from making the same mistakes.
(Part of my Adoption Truth series will include a post on finding an agency, looking past its social media content, and identifying red flags.)
We left this "agency" and its facilitator in Haiti for the following reasons:
1. we had reason to believe that some children were coming into care through means that we consider to be unethical and not through the legal channels that had been described to us before we signed our contract
2. we were not given a social history or any referral paperwork and had reason to believe we had been provided with inaccurate statements about AJ's background
3. we could not get medical documentation and went weeks without updates on AJ's medical needs (which were extremely confusing and concerning)
4. we were lied to, in writing, about the status of the "agency" in the U.S.
5. we were charged $2,700 for an "expedited passport and visa" and did not receive a passport (which only costs $240) and later found out that it is illegal to try to "expedite" a U.S. visa
6. the facilitator was using the word "rescue" to describe taking children from their birth parents. When birth parents changed their mind about placing their child in the creche, the facilitator went out to "rescue back" the children
7. the staff at the creche began to operate with a closed door policy - families were not allowed visits, our friends who live in Haiti were not allowed inside the armed and gated entrance, and ultimately it turned out that all of the youngest children (dozens of them) were gone. No longer living there.
There were numerous other, equally frightening, concerns but I am sure you are getting the picture.
Given all of our concerns surrounding the "agency's" operations in Haiti and information we were receiving, we conducted our own investigation into AJ's history to determine if we should move forward with his adoption or if he could be reunified with his first family (I hope to write more about this later.)
It has not been an easy investigation. The emotional and financial cost has been high. But we are confident now in moving ahead with AJ's visa application and bringing him home to the U.S.
To accomplish the recreation of all original Haitian adoption documents in the "dossier" we need $8,500 ($5,500 for recreating the paperwork we had already paid for and $3,000 for passport, visa, and travel.)
You may wonder why we don't use the U.S. and Haitian court system to pursue this? Why raise money and go to the trouble of reproducing the documents?
Unfortunately, despite the fact that the Haitian court has ordered that our adoption documents be turned over to us and we have hired a U.S. attorney to assist us, the "agency"* has, alternately, over the past 10+ weeks, refused to turn the documents over, claimed to have destroyed them, and now cannot locate all of them. They have intimated that the documents could be given to us as part of a "settlement" which would include a gag order.
If you are like me, you probably need the long story before you make a decision about donating your money. And you probably want to know more about us. That is completely legitimate. There are a lot of fundraisers out there and a lot of people in need asking you to fund their cause.
We hope you will give to us for this simple reason: we will not sign a gag order to protect our former adoption "agency" and their facilitator in return for the easy release of our documents.
Yes, signing a gag order would likely have brought our son home by now. Signing a gag order would be faster and cheaper than any other option. It would also release us to never have to think about this again. It would release us from any obligation to warn others or walk the thin line between what we consider truth-telling and what the "agency" might try to claim as defamation.
But we feel that signing a gag order would NOT protect other children, Haitian first families or prospective adoptive parents in the future.
We have decided that our discomfort asking for financial help is less important than truth-telling.
Our full story will be part of the Adoption Truth series which you can find here. Please keep coming back to check for updates. It is taking time to write and requiring significant prayer and mentorship from close friends and family.
The need to raise money and reproduce our dossier is very urgent since the family that AJ is living with in Haiti is leaving for a six month sabbatical to the U.S. in mid-July. Additionally, AJ has medical needs that require further testing here at a Children's Hospital that is equipped with better laboratory procedures.
Thank you for anything you can give. (We are working short-term to raise $8,500. But our total cost is close to double that. Anything given over $8,500 will be put towards legal fees and mediation with the "agency" involved.)
We made it to $8,500! Anything donated above this amount will be put towards the significant cost related to legal fees and mediation with the "agency." THANK YOU.
* "Agency" is in quotes because it turns out that the group we signed a contract with not licensed in the U.S. We did not know this when we signed on. It was put in writing to us that the "agency" was licensed by the agency's Vice President. The agency became licensed one year later. The creche connected to the agency was licensed in Haiti and was operating with the knowledge and approval of the Haitian social welfare agency. So it was a bit complicated to determine which organization was responsible for which parts of the adoption.