Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Notes From The Awkward Files: In Which I Ask For Your Money

Now, you know that I never ask you for money. But today that's going to change: I'm going to ask that you consider donating some of your precious pennies to my friend A in order to to help her family get their son home from Haiti.

Now, when I say my friend, I actually mean my friend. Not just someone I sort-of know on the internet - we met through blogging but now she's an actual, real-life friend (either that or I have mad photoshop skilz):

us in oxford, where we were pretending to be cultured but actually spent most of the day eating, hence the elasticated waistbands 
And not just any sort of friend, but A is someone that I trust. As in, really really trust.  She's been working in International Development for over a decade and knows more about international child welfare and in-country family preservation than anybody else I know of. Also: she was the one who showed me how to do a flat twist in Pink's hair, for which I owe her a debt of eternal gratitude.

And when I say 'bring their son home', I don't mean 'the boy who they are hoping to adopt'. I say 'their son' because his adoption in Haiti is already complete. He is their son. They have been moving his paperwork through the courts for well over a year (as is normal in Haitian adoptions). A few months ago, everything on the Haitian side was finally finished, and little Alex was theirs. All they need is for their final paperwork to move one more time, get Alex's passport and then a visa for him to come to the US.

But now their agency won't release their paperwork.

The thing is, while A and J were investigating their own adoption, they found out things about this agency - and the behaviour of the Americans working in-country - that were hugely concerning. They also found out things about the children's interim care that was hugely concerning.

They tried to talk to the agency about this, of course. They got shut down. (A and J, that is, not the agency. Unfortunately). And now the agency won't release their paperwork so that they can apply for their son's visa and bring him home.

They have been told they have two choices:

First choice: agree to signing a gag order so that the agency will (hopefully) give them their documents back. Second: re-create their adoption dossier from scratch, at a cost of about $8,500.

Their adoption has already been fully paid for. They paid for it themselves. But they do NOT have a spare $8,500 lying around to do a big chunk of it again (who does?) And their boy needs to come home.

Can I just reiterate - this is not a problem with the Haitian courts. It's not a problem with the US embassy. It's nothing to do with their own adoption - which has been investigated (more than once) and double checked  and triple checked and is absolutely above board. The only problem is with their agency, who are holding their documents hostage in the hope that A and her husband will agree to keep quiet about what they've seen. They have said that they will give back the documents if A and J sign a gag order.

Would you do that? Do you want them to do that? This is egregious behaviour on the part of the agency.  They want to speak out and let other prospective adoptive families know what this agency is doing in-country. They want to let people know how the children are being treated. They want to let people know what they have found out, during their investigations, about coercion and manipulation of Haitian families. This is exactly what APs should be doing when they see unethical behaviour going on. This is what we all say that we want them to be doing.

A and J are not panic-mongers. They are not trouble makers. They should not be gagged.

And yet they still need to get their son home.

These two things should not be mutually exclusive.

If I found myself in the situation that they are in, I hope I would have the courage to do what they are doing.

If you have a spare $10, click over here and make a donation via Project Hopeful. Most of us don't have very much money, but there are quite a lot of us hanging around the interwebs.

We can help. Please do.

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