Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bringing Your Children Home!

We are very pleased to announce that three of our Haitian children have finally come home! As I get time I would like to share more about the end process (including paper work). For now I'll share some thoughts and experiences about getting your children from Haiti to America.

Before you leave Haiti with your child(ren) you will need to have a passport and visa for them. Silly me... I had no idea that their visa is added to their passport so it is really only one thing (now I know). You should also be given paperwork for your child that is in a sealed envelope as well as paper work that is not. I was concerned that immigration and getting out of Haiti was going to be a challenge~ it was not. When we arrived to check in for our flights the paperwork and passport/visas were briefly looked at. Then you will go through an immigration window (can't miss it as you have to pass through it) and again they barely looked at the information. We needed to show all the information (although the sealed envelopes remain sealed) again with their boarding passes.

Once on the plane you will be asked to fill out an immigration form. You may receive it in French but you can find the translation in one of the in-flight magazines. Now I will share what happened after we landed but please keep in mind that we went through Miami so it may not be exactly the same at other locations.

Once you exit the airplane you simply follow the signs and/or the crowds. Since you just exited an international flight everyone must go through immigration so you can not miss it. Prepare to stand in line for a long time (and if you can get off the plane quickly you may spend less time waiting). At the window you will give them the visa/passports and all the paper work you have with you. That will not be immediately returned to you. It will be taken by security and you will be immediately taken to a room to wait to be processed. For us the wait was really long (from about 10PM to midnight) but the process was super easy. They may call you up to ask you to sign something and if you have older kids they will also need to sign. Then you are free to go.

A few things I wish I had been prepared for in advance~~ Make sure you EAT. You will not be able to leave the room once taken there and you do not pass the food court on the way. ;) We had our dinner at 1AM (ugh!). Also, we did not pack any blankets or warm clothes because we were going from one warm climate to another. However, the AC was crankin' in the waiting room and we were all very cold! You also may not use your cell phone once in this room so if you need to call anyone do it when the plane lands and before you get to this point.

Do not be too concerned about your luggage but do be listening for a representative from the airline you just arrived with to come in and ask to speak with their customers. The rep. will take your information and have your luggage set aside for you until you are finished (but you will not have access to it until you are finished). After you are free to leave you will need to pick up your luggage. At Miami the luggage was simply left standing near where it came off the regular baggage claim (even though it had been hours). You will need to take your luggage through customs which should be a fairly easy process! Once finished with customs you are free to move about America!!! Welcome your children because they just became American citizens or legal residents (depending on what kind of visa they have).