Mariette Williams, who was adopted in 1986, discovered that she was never given up for adoption and that the process occurred without the consent of her biological parents.
Her adoption papers reveal the name of an orphan who no longer exists and who belonged to Rose-Marie Platel, her godmother. Patel was responsible for the unauthorized adoption when Williams was nearly three and a half years old.
The woman’s adopted parents, Sandra and Albert Knopf, live near Vancouver, Canada. During the adoption process 30 years ago, a man named Henry Wiebe told the hopeful parents that they could adopt a child in Haiti for US$3,500, and two for $6,000.
The negotiator brought Knopf to the orphanage managed by Platel in Haiti. It was there where Knopf found little girls with parasites, infected eyes, and apparently malnourished.
The Canadian couple never met the Haitian attorney who completed the paperwork, nor did they go before a court in order to be approved by a judge. Rose-Marie Platel, the “godmother,” was in charge of everything.
Knopf admitted to her daughter that there were red flags during the process: wrong birthdates and the sudden appearance of documents.
After searching to meet her biological family, Williams found a Facebook profile page of Pestel, Haiti, a town mentioned in the adoption documents. She posted a message on the town’s social network that read: “My name is Mariette. I am looking for my family.”
Weeks later, she discovered that she had four sisters and two brothers in Haiti; her mother was still living, but her father had passed away.
Adoption irregularities like these frequently occurred in the Caribbean country. In 2013, the Center of Journalistic Investigation (CIPER) in Chile published a report on the unusual practices of the Multicolor Families Foundation, a Haitian organization which oversaw the adoption of Haitian children by Chilean families.
According to the report, the foundation did not keep a directory or any sort of registry for each adoption. Instead of working with an attorney, the foundation went through a proxy “with good contacts.” CIPER further uncovered that at least seven kids were given up for adoption without being approved legally.
The organization was never accredited in Chile, and although they had legal personnel in Haiti, the foundation operated under the guise of a protection house for children, which originally allowed them to establish themselves in the country.
Multicolor Families has a Twitter account dating back to March 2010, however, the last message published by the foundation was in January 2012 soliciting financial help.
— FAMILIAS MULTICOLOR (@fammulticolor) January 18, 2012
According to the Latin American Association of Magistrates, Officials, Professionals and Operators of Childhood, Adolescence and Family, after the 2010 earthquake, international adoptions increased in Haiti from 1,200 children in 2009 to 2,400 the following year.
The organization revealed system controls were weak in Haiti due to minimal requirements for international adoptions and a lack of oversight.
Adoption Process in Haiti Now Regulated
Although many Haitians have ended up living with families in Europe, Canada, and the United States illegally, an adoption law passed in 2013 now regulates the process and establishes requirements so the procedure runs correctly.
In 2013, the government established the Institute of Social Welfare and Investigation (IBESR) as a central authority of all adoption matters.
Now, the process and assessment of adoption inquiries run through this organization and the orphanage must complete requirements for the process to be effectuated.
In addition, Haiti approved the ratification of the Hague Agreement, which obliges member nations to approve a law based on international standards in the matter of adoptions. This guarantees the compliance of biological parents with the process.