An Earthquake, an Orphanage, and New Beginnings for Haitian Children in America

Three adoptees who talked to The New York Times remembered the place with mostly hard feelings.

“If I was to put it in one word, it’s jail,” said Libien Becker, a 20-year-old business and carpentry student at Montana Technical University in Butte, who was adopted by a Montana family after the earthquake.

Teachers came to the orphanage to give classes on basic literacy and math, and often the children played basketball in the courtyard. But they also recalled stretches of hunger and corporal punishment — which although outlawed in Haiti, is a common experience for 80 percent of the country’s children, according to Haiti’s 2016-17 national survey.

Mr. Cayo did not respond to the allegations of poor treatment at the orphanage, which has since been transformed into a school for poor children in the area.

Many American parents who adopted from there said they’d been promised the process would take a year or so. But they described painfully waiting years because of Haitian bureaucracy and problems with the American agency, which faced lawsuits from at least two sets of parents. In both cases, the families reached legal agreements without going to trial.

In one case, Patrick Eibs and his wife at the time claimed the agency and its director Lorraine A. Jones, “misrepresented the legal stages of the adoption proceedings, misrepresented the time the adoptions would take to proceed, misrepresented the defendants’ competence, forced the plaintiffs to pay for expenses in excess and beyond that provided by the parties’ written agreement and charged unreasonable fees for the services provided.”

A New Arrival Inc. was decertified in 2017 by an accreditation agency used by the U.S. State Department. That same year, it ceased operations, according to tax records.

The Barretts confronted their own problems adopting John Peter. During the 2019 interview, Judge Barrett said they’d been in the process when “paperwork things had just gone south.” They got a call from the adoption agency in 2009, delivering the difficult news that it wouldn’t happen, she said.

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