AFRICANGLOBE – Haiti will begin reforms on its adoption laws in order to curb human trafficking and child abuse issues that plague the country. The law will adopt international practices for safeguarding children eligible for international adoption, but still requires approval from both houses of the Haitian Parliament.
Among the provisions included in the proposed law are requirements for both of a child’s parents to consent to adoption, and the establishment of a central government agency for adoptions, preventing overseas adoptions without government review.
Prospective couples looking to adopt must be married for at least five years, with one spouse over the age of 30, while single parents must be at least 35. Arielle Jeanty Villedrouin serves as general director of Haiti’s social welfare agency, the office that will oversee over the adoption process should the measure pass.
“A parent who wants to adopt a child can’t just go to a website and say, ‘This is a child I want.’ The children aren’t merchandise or cars,” Villedrouin told the Associated Press.
Haiti’s orphanages house approximately 50,000 children, as many parents cannot care for their children with the nation’s high poverty rate. Due to a lack of management among these institutions, children often disappear, becoming victims of trafficking or other crimes. According to UNICEF, no less than 2,000 children were smuggled out of Haiti into the neighboring Dominican Republic and other countries.
“The laws they’ve had — they’ve been up to interpretation,” Shasta Grimes, a Florida woman who has been trying to adopt a 5-year-old Haitian boy for over two years. “It’s been really difficult for anyone to know what the standard is or the correct procedure is. With legislation in place it’s going to really set in place an international standard.”
Though the law would better define practices for overseas adoptions, it does not cover Haiti’s internal practices. Currently, hundreds of thousands of Haitian children work as domestic servants called “restaveks” in order to earn money.