Friday, January 15, 2010

Earthquake Affects Haitian Adoptions

Natural Disaster Affects Families in the Midst of Adoption Process

The devastating earthquake in Haiti is sending powerful aftershocks to hopeful adoptive families here in the U.S. Many families who had Haitian adoptions in process are slowly coming to the realization that not only is the disaster putting a sudden halt to adoptions, restarting the international process will take months, if not years.

In Haiti, we are seeing an entire country virtually destroyed, including government offices that process adoptions and the very orphanages that house waiting children. Adoptive parents are suddenly in limbo, hoping for news yet little is forthcoming.

When natural disasters such as the Caribbean temblor occur, adoptions in process are typically one of the last governmental services to restart. Families who were hoping to complete Haitian adoptions in the next 18 to 24 months may want to consider other options if their primary motivation for adoption is to build their family.

“While the need to adopt internationally is great, there are also opportunities to adopt newborns and toddlers of all races here at home,” says Mardie Caldwell C.O.A.P., founder of Lifetime Adoption Center. “International orphans need to be adopted and cared for, but many families proceed internationally because they are unaware of their options here in the U.S.”

Lifetime Adoption offers a number of programs, including the popular African American Enrichment Program to assist families seeking to adopt children domestically. “There is a real surge for orphan care right now, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of caring for the children in need of loving parents in our own country,” says Caldwell.

It is apparent that this earthquake has caused great loss of life, and the need for adoption in Haiti will likely increase in the coming years. However it will not be anytime soon and the children available will have experienced great trauma and substantial loss. Families who seek to adopt in the future from the Caribbean nation will need to be prepared for this.

Caldwell reports that many families who adopt internationally are simply not prepared for the issues that children raised in orphanages face. “Because of the lack of bonding, discipline, accurate medical records, and social interaction, children adopted internationally often have needs that exceed what adoptive families are prepared for. At Lifetime Adoption, we are get calls weekly by parents seeking options for these children, including some requests for our help in finding a new family, known as a readopt. It is a difficult situation for all involved, especially the child.”

When natural disasters such as the Caribbean temblor or the tsunami that devastated Indonesia and Thailand in 2004 occur, there is often an outpouring of concern for children left orphaned and calls for adoption. The wheels turn quite slowly, however, in making this a reality and often, families have experienced so much loss, that they expand their own families with children of friends rather than lose them as well.

For families considering adopting in Haiti, Caldwell recommends that they examine their reasons. “If you truly want to parent a child who needs a stable family, consider adopting domestically. The need is great.”

To learn more about Lifetime Adoption Center, visit their website at www.LifetimeAdoption.com.

To learn more about the African American Enrichment Adoption Program, visit www.AAAdoptions.com.

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