Tags: Haiti | orphans | Pittsburgh | adoption

Haitian Orphans Flown to Pittsburgh for Adoption

Tuesday, 19 January 2010 10:31 PM

A group of 53 Haitian orphans landed in Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning, the first wave to arrive after the United States loosened its policy on visa requirements to expedite Americans’ adoptions of parentless children living in the post-earthquake ruins.

But the new policy, announced late Monday, affects only 900 children whom the Haitian government had already identified as orphans, and whom adoption agencies had matched with couples in the United States.

Tens of thousands of children are believed to have been orphaned in the quake, and their fate remains unclear, aid groups and United Nations officials say.

Catholic leaders in Miami are pushing both governments to have children who appear to be orphaned airlifted to temporary group homes in South Florida. Several aid groups who focus on children, however, say every effort should be made to reunite them with relatives.

It normally takes three years to adopt a child from Haiti, because of a lengthy process required under Haitian law. The Haitian government has had reason to be cautious; there are about 200 orphanages in Haiti, but United Nations officials say not all are legitimate. Some are fronts for traffickers who buy children from their parents and sell them to couples in other countries. “In orphanages in Haiti there are an awful lot of children who are not orphans,” said Christopher de Bono, a Unicef spokesman.

Under the new policy, announced Monday night by the Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the United States is waiving visa requirements on humanitarian grounds for Haitian children already in the pipeline for adoption. Some adoptions had already been approved by Haitian authorities, but the United States also agreed to let in other children who had been matched with American parents but had not gotten a final blessing from Haitian officials.

“The U.S. government has never done this in the past,” said Mary F. Robinson, president of the National Council for Adoption. “They are really going all out to expedite the process.”

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Tuesday, 19 January 2010 10:31 PM
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