The following information brings about both joy and extreme concern. I am joyful that the children will be granted visas to the US but very disheartened that the US is providing no assistance to the orphanages to get the children safely to the Embassy and to provide them food and water while waiting. So much fo the press trying to say that things are happening the way they are to ensure the best interests of the children. No the primary concern of the US continues to be the prevention of illegal immigrants from entering our country, even if they are vulnerable orphans. I am not surprised though, I really cannot say that the processing of our own visa paperwork for our son was a smooth procress. Seriously, just imagine these small thirsty and hungry children having to walk to the US Embassy and then wait there for hours to process paperwork only then to get on a plane to a unknown destination! As a mother and psychologist I cannot even begin to explain how very wrong that process is for children who are already experiencing a trauma and likely to present with some form of PTSD symptoms.
Press Release from For His Glory Adoption Outreach:
Orphans Intend to Depart HaitiOrphans begin procedures to depart Haiti at U.S. Embassy(Port-au-Prince, Haiti) On January 20, 2010, 133 orphans from the Maison des Enfants de Dieu (Children of the House of God) orphanage will begin the difficult process outlined by the U.S. Department of State for humanitarian parole and onward transportation to the United States. In accordance with instructions received from the State Department, as relayed by the Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) at 8 p.m. today, orphans along with orphanage staff members have been instructed to arrive at the U.S. Embassy as early as possible on Wednesday morning. JCICS warned that no food, water or facilities would be available for the children while processing at the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince. JCICS further relayed that orphanage requests to the U.S. Embassy for security and transportation for the children have been denied by the State Department. The U.S. ministry associated with this orphanage, For His Glory Adoption Outreach (FHG), was also asked to stop requesting security, transportation or even water at the orphanage location. Following discussions with staff and board members in Port-au-Prince, the difficult decision was made that all 133 children, including approximately 60 children under the age of 3, will begin early in the morning of January 20th to walk the over 2 kilometers to the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince. This decision was made due to the limited staff available and the increasingly dangerous security situation at the orphanage in Port-au-Prince. The staff will carry as much water, food and baby formula as possible with them for the orphans while processing at the U.S. Embassy. JCICS relayed that once processing is completed, the orphans will travel to the United States on "cargo jets to locations that are not often known until an hour or so before the flight leaves." Kim Harmon, President of FHG, acknowledged that "this arrangement is far from ideal for the safety and well-being of the children. We are calling to all who care about these precious children to pray earnestly for their safety tomorrow." FHG is a ministry to the people and children of Haiti. Our ministry is dedicated to fundraising and assisting the orphanage, Maison des Enfants de Dieu, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
JCICS STATEMENT January 19, 2010 8 p.m. est
UPDATE: Haiti It is once again my job to be the barrier of bad news. Another day come and gone and no change. Despite extensive Congressional support and all of your calls to your Members of Congress we have hit roadblock after roadblock. At this point we respectfully ask that you stop contacting your Members of Congress requesting their assistance with obtaining security, transportation, and water for the location. The Department of State has not and apparently will not provide the small assistance that we have requested. Given the current circumstances, at this point we are recommending that someone from each orphanage escort the children who qualify for humanitarian parole or adoption visas to the U.S. Embassy in Port-A-Prince. We recommend that the orphanage staff arrive with the children and any adoption paperwork that has not been destroyed as early as possible in the morning in order to attempt to obtain visas or parole for the children. Please understand that this option may not be considered safe and that the U.S. Embassy did not allow some orphanages onto the premises today. Additionally, please note that it has been reported that there is no food, water or facilities for the children to use while at the Embassy. As noted during our conference call earlier today, these are our recommendations only and should not be used to replace your or your orphanage director's good judgment. It is our understanding that any children processed by USCIS in Port-A-Prince are leaving on U.S. cargo jets to locations that are not often know until a hour or so before the flight leaves. At times children have left Haiti without the knowledge of their adoptive parents. This is currently the worst case scenario for the children's well-being and safety but at the moment there are no other options. As we receive more information we will continue to share it with you. While the situation at the moment is terrible I can only hope that our collective efforts produce some positive news. Despite the roadblocks Joint Council has not given up on the save haven and we continue to advocate for its creation and a more transparent and safe process in uniting these children with their adoptive families. Rebecca