Some South Florida parents say the U.S. government broke its promise to protect their adopted children in Haiti. But the kids are still stuck there, and the parents fear they won’t make it out in time. 7’s Karen Hensel investigates.

Adopting a child from another country can be a long process. It took Michelle Reed three years to adopt two boys from Haiti.

Michelle Reed, adoptive parent: “Vidal is 9, and then Jibberson is 8.”

After Vidal and Jibberson arrived in 2022, Michelle discovered they had a younger sibling still in Haiti.

She got approval to adopt 6-year-old Esai. But he’s still in the country and in danger.

Michelle Reed: “He has been transferred three times from different locations because the gangs infiltrate the orphanage.”

Seventy-one children are trapped in Haiti, waiting to meet their adoptive families in Florida and across the U.S.

The families say the U.S. Department of State promised to get the kids out, but then things changed.

Michelle Reed: “It’s been 11 and a half weeks since the Department of State told us that they were getting our kids out, and we’re still in the same position.”

Emmerson Phillippe, adoptive parent: “It’s either they don’t understand the situation, or they don’t want to understand the situation.”

Emmerson and Michelle Phillippe were approved to adopt their niece and nephew.

The children live in an orphanage, and there is no word when they will be able to leave.

Michelle Phillippe: “Every time that we feel that we’re getting closer, there’s always something else, another obstacle that presents itself.”

Haiti declared a state of emergency in March. The office that handles adoptions was attacked, and its archives were destroyed.

Weeks later, families in the U.S. got an email from the Department of State. It said that the children would get “exit letters” so that they could come to the U.S. for now. They would have to “return to Haiti at some point in the future to complete the adoption.”

The promise didn’t last long.

Michelle Reed: “Three weeks after their initial notice, they told us they were not going to be removing the kids from Haiti, and we had to follow the adoption process.”

Michelle was told she would have to finalize the adoption herself in Haiti instead of here in South Florida.

Michelle Reed: “You can’t follow the adoption process because everything is closed. Nothing’s functioning.”

She and the other families are asking the government to authorize an emergency humanitarian evacuation. The children would be allowed to immediately leave Haiti, and families could finish the adoptions in the U.S.

Adoptive parent 1: “We demand the Department of State.”

Adoptive parent 2: “And the Department of Homeland Security.”

Adoptive parent 3: “Work together to issue emergency humanitarian parole.”

Adoptive parent 4: “For our children today.”

Despite their pleas, the U.S. government has not changed course, and no one will explain why.

Emmerson Phillippe: “We have seen other countries get humanitarian parole for their kids. My issue is that the State Department is completely ignoring the facts on the ground.”

We reached out to the Departments of State and Homeland Security.

The Department of State tells 7Investigates, “Facilitating the departure of children from Haiti before final adoptions are completed could severely undermine the safeguards to protect the best interests of the child…”

It adds not following those steps “…could also jeopardize our ability to collaborate with Haiti on intercountry adoptions in the future…”

Meanwhile, the parents say they won’t give up.

Michelle Reed: “These kids are our kids, so we’re not going to back down. We’ll do whatever we have to do to get them out. It just makes sense that the government steps up and does what they need to.”

So these kids can be safe with their new families.

Karen Hensel, 7News.

We also reached out to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. His office tells 7News that he and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott are calling for the government to work with Haiti to come up with an expedited adoption process for the families.


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