The Hague Conference on Private International Law has sent an Information Note on the Haiti earthquake to states and Central Authorities participating in the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention.

The Note emphasizes that “a humanitarian disaster such as the earthquake should not be the reason for bypassing essential safeguards for safe adoption.”  Moreover, “efforts to reunite a displaced child with his or her parents or family members must take priority,” and “emphasis should first be on child protection, rather than adoption.”

The Note’s specific  recommendations are different depending on the status of individual cases.

“Where an adoption has already been completed by a court in Haiti and all safeguards have been applied, but certain administrative procedures (e.g. relating to travel documentation) remain to be completed, it may well be justifiable to expedite the transfer of the child to the State where the child is to live with the adoptive parents. It is essential that the identity of the child be verified before departure.”

If, however, no final adoption decree has been granted by an Haitian Court, and the child had not been placed in the care of the prospective adoptive parents before the earthquake struck, evacuation within or from Haiti “should be based on considerations of the child’s safety and should not be confused with the adoption process.”