The new rules of adoption combined with fewer available children have caused the slowdown, says Pertman. The Hague convention “caused a real shake-up” because a lot of social agencies in developing countries simply can’t comply. And scandals in Guatemala and Romania, and China’s rethink of its pro-adoption policies, dramatically reduced the supply of adoptable children. The result, he says, is “a very long wait period.”
Guatemala’s scandals resulted in the moratorium on international adoption. Likewise, while Haiti deals with the postquake tsunami of international requests to adopt orphaned children, and as it processes the case of the arrested missionaries, it has become acutely aware of the weakness of its documentation process. (“If a child isn’t registered, the child doesn’t exist,” says Jennifer Bakody, UNICEF communications officer in Haiti. “Then there’s no way to protect the child, he/she is really lost from the system.” And that’s how good intentions can turn into scandal.)
So the Haitian government has announced a shutdown of all adoptions, partly out of caution but partly out of necessity – its main adoption judge was killed in the quake and government documents have been lost in the chaos. But international adoption officials in Port-au-Prince report that irregularities continue in the chaos: The Haitian government declared that adoptions in process could only be signed off by the prime minister, but it’s clear that some adoptions continue with other ministers signing off.
International authorities are encouraging Haiti not to attempt adoptions at the moment. A country like Haiti needs to rebuild before it gets into the business of helping find individual homes for adoptable children, Ms. Bissell argues.