Clinton pledges to speed Haiti adoptions

Jan. 20, 2010 at 9:27 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday the United States would quicken the process for Haiti adoptions approved before the devastating earthquake.

She pledged to "do all that we can to expedite the travel of children who were in the line for adoption, who have a legal, permanent home, guardianship waiting for them."

"We will not let red tape stand in the way of helping those in need, but we will ensure that international adoption procedures to protect children and families are followed," she said.

She said reuniting Haitian family members separated in the quake's aftermath also is a high priority.

Clinton said several hundred Americans were in the process of adopting a Haitian child when the quake hit.

"As a mother, I share the anxiety that they must be feeling as they wait for word about their children's safety, and we are doing everything possible to locate these children and then expedite their arrival in our country," Clinton said.

She said the State Department is working with the Homeland Security and Health and Human Services departments to streamline the adoption process, while getting word to parents about their adopted children.

U.S. officials announced this week a humanitarian policy in which the country will waive visa requirements for Haitian children already in the adoption process and allow orphaned Haitian children in the United States temporarily. The orphans' plights would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, the announcement said.

The 7-magnitude earthquake is believed to have killed at least 200,000 people and left tens of thousands of children orphaned.

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