From: "Shaffer, Sarah F"
I wanted to take a moment to connect with you after all the confusion of the afternoon and your children’s status. Congressman Larsen’s office contacted us on your behalf to try to clear up the situation; the staffer told us that the Prime Minister had authorized a judge to sign off on your children’s paperwork and to allow the children to leave tonight. This is not the case.
The U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince is aware of your case and USCIS has confirmed that they have the children’s letters in hand at the embassy. They have not been signed by a judge, nor has a judge authorized the children’s travel to the United States. The Haitian Prime Minister has instituted a travel ban until he can review all documentation for each case. No judge in Haiti has the authority to override the ban.
Please do not go to the embassy tonight; you will have to wait until the morning to get service. Your children will also not be able to depart Haiti until the Prime Minister has finalized the review process and looked at their cases. The State Department Adoptions Task Force will contact you immediately when we hear that the children have been approved for travel.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions,
Adoptions Task Force Coordinator
(Before you read this, please keep in mind that I have been babysitting 2 two year-olds all day with little to no food in an orphanage with over 100 children. I am beyond frustrated at the amount of red tape for such a simple thing.)
If the Prime Minister must approve our files why is he leaving for Canada in the middle of the night?
With him gone where do we stand?
If this is a Haitian government issue, why are children from Canada and other countries allowed to leave?
If they knew that we had arranged a flight on our dime why drag their feet? This is not a Haitian issue - it is a United States of America issue. There currently is no operational Haitian government. We have provided everything that has been requested in triplicate and have followed every rule as people in decision making positions have come up with them.
I feel like we are the punchline in the biggest practical joke pulled. Do these American Lawmakers realize that these are American Citizens that they are hurting? These children are going to be American citizens and this ridiculous run around is inappropriate.
And I do not believe that the Haitian government is behind all of this confusion.
I understand that you are frustrated with the situation. The situation is not ideal, and you can believe me when I say that we are as frustrated with the lack of clarity we have been offered by the Haitian Government. However, the United States are a sovereign nation and must acknowledge that Haiti – disaster or not – is the same. Until the children actually immigrate to the United States, the children are Haitian citizens and cannot travel without authorization from the Haitian government.
We recognize that the current limbo does not benefit the children, and the USCIS and Consular officers at the embassy are working as hard as possible to process cases so that when the travel ban is lifted, we can get the approved children out as quickly as possible. The Ambassador is also working hard to coordinate with the Prime Minister to resolve our questions about the process and get children moving up to the United States. As soon as we have clarity on the process and can begin sending approved children to the United States, we will be reaching out to all parents and orphanages to coordinate the children’s travel. Please do not stress yourself or the children further in the meantime by travelling to the embassy for updates. [Lori's addition: "do not stress yourself"?? IS SHE SERIOUS?? DOES SHE KNOW WHAT THEY'RE LIVING IN RIGHT NOW? This isn't a vacation. LIVING IN HAITI RIGHT NOW stresses myself, my husband, my children, my friends' children....]
I cannot answer your question about why the Prime Minister is travelling at this time, and can only repeat that we are trying to get answers so that we can process and move these children as quickly as possible. In the meantime, please have the orphanage contact the task force if the food and water supplies are not able to be replenished. We can forward that information on to those coordinating aid for orphanages.
Sarah ShafferAdoptions Task Force Coordinator
Thank you for your timely response and your understanding of my frustration. I have been dealing with the Haitian government since 2008 and they were not the least bit organized before this disaster.
I have a very hard time believing there are even enough officials to hold a proper meeting.
Can you please inquire around as to why the French and Canadian children are free to leave and the United States children are not?
I also have a hard time believing that we are offering a billion dollar relief program and the United States can't apply a little pressure on whoever is making the decisions this week.
It is completely beyond reason that they would not be excited to clear as many orphanage beds as possible to make room for children who have just lost their parents.
I am a firm believer in common sense and when decisions are made that defy common sense I get the impression that something is fishy.
UNICEF is behind this mess and they are experts at defecting the attention. They use the "ask the other guy game" until everyone just gives up. They exert their will through games - exactly like the one we are seeing here.
Again sorry for the ranting and raving.
I won't do it anymore. Please keep me up to date and I will keep my emails short and sweet.