A national organization representing adoption agencies is warning Canadians against trying to adopt Haitian children who have been affected by the earthquake. The Adoption Council of Canada, as well as many of its member organizations, have been swamped with an "overwhelming number of inquiries" from the public about how to adopt Haitian children, the organization said in a statement released today.
But the group says adoption "is not the first response to help the children" and that new applications may only become a possibility as the country picks up the pieces from the earthquake.
The first priority is to identify and protect those children in need, trace family members and help reunite children with any family members and provide emergency help to orphanages.
There are hundreds of Haitian children who were in the process of being adopted when the earthquake hit, including dozens who were destined for homes in Canada. Now, the federal government and other countries, such as the U.S. and the Netherlands, are working to expedite the adoption processes for those children. In fact, Dutch authorities sent a chartered plane to Haiti yesterday to collect about 100 children whose applications were stalled by the earthquake.
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney cautioned that any new adoptions would take time and have to follow all legal channels.
The Adoption Council of Canada said Haitian officials may consider international adoption once they can establish that children have no living relatives in the country.
Haiti has long been a popular spot for international adoptions by Canadians. In 2008, about 150 Haitian children were adopted by Canadians, the Adoption Council of Canada said.