I don't even know what to say. We have done everything we could think of to try to make this smooth and efficient and easy on our families and, especially the children. We've found out in the last few hours that it isn't enough.
Here's the latest.
1. We all have Humanitarian Parole. Now we need the Prime Minister's signature in order for our children to be authorized to leave the country.
2. While Chareyl was at the Embassy this afternoon, they announced that the Prime Minister was leaving - for Canada. What Chareyl told me was that unless you could take someone to wherever he was immediately and stand in front of him until he chose to sign your papers, there was nothing they could do.
3. Additionally, we have been trying to make this transition as painless as possible for the children. We've been working for days with all the different agencies and departments trying to make sure we have every T crossed and I dotted.
I cannot even begin to tell you what we've been through in the last week and a half, trying to wade through the marsh of bureaucracy so that you wouldn't have to. We've tried to prep agencies and groups and make everyone aware of these children and this group and their plight. I have made the comment several times in the last week that I could not see how it was possible that I could be doing this as my volunteer full-time job for so many days and still have gov't departments give me new "requirements" and processes and signatures needed for each department to be happy.
Just a couple of hours ago, we were notified.... well, I won't even go into all the random stuff that we've been notified.
Here's the short list:
If you Child is Category II (which nearly all of us are)
When the Prime Minister or other appropriate Haitian official finally decides to sign the paperwork and our children are finally released to travel, we have no say in what happens to them for the next 2-3 days. The child will be taken to Miami and will be taken into custody of the OOR. They will take your child to a shelter in Miami. They have suggested that we do NOT arrive at the Miami Airport as you won't be able to see them there. The children will be taken via back ways to ensure that they aren't a media spectacle.
When the OOR knows when our children are arriving (because the PM has finally signed the paperwork) we'll be notified of which shelter will have them. They said they will send me out a "Welcome Letter" to tell us which hotels are in the area of the shelters where the children will be. You will be able to go and visit them and play with them during the day, but at night they will be staying at the shelter and you will be returning to your hotel. They said it typically takes 2-3 days for their process to confirm all is well with the child and that you are who you say you are, etc, etc, etc.
I tried. I really did. I am still sending them the packets that they said they could preprocess and I'm hoping that they will actually do that and that it will shorten the time your children will be in a shelter.
At this point, we have esclated to Senators Hatch and Crapo and Congressman Larsen as well as anyone else that would listen to my friend Brian at Utah - DHS. We're demanding that the US government find an alternative to the signature of a Prime Minister who obviously doesn't put the children first.
I would suggest you stay where you are for the moment. If they fix the signature fiasco and get someone else to authorize the files, we'll be on the next plane to Miami and you'll need to know which shelter your child(ren) wil be at. If they don't fix the signature fiasco, you'll need to be able to escalate and rally your local elected officials.
I think I'll start to send you some of the emails that outline what we've been through these last days. I feel like we've tried - all the way along - to do what we were asked to do and be "good citizens" and because our children weren't lucky enough to have the lousy Haitian process get them "far enough along" that our government could consider them Category I orphans. Those kids skip all this OOR shelter crap.
These poor kids have been the victim over and over and over again. They just can't catch a break. And neither can their families.
I'll keep you posted if I get any news. I wish this had worked out. We are still going to send the packets down, as I mentioned and I hope that will make things easier for your families when you do hit a border somewhere.