The tragedy in Haiti taking place right now has captured the hearts of millions. Devastating images of children with sadness in their eyes, covered in dirt and stricken with hunger, have covered our media outlets. These images make it impossible to close our hearts to the reality taking place in the world’s poorest and now tragedy stricken country.

One of the ways people are opening their hearts to Haiti is through adoption. According to Dr. Jane Aronson (better known as pediatrician to the children of the Jolie-Pitt family) at OrphanDoctor, there are 380,000 orphans in Haiti, and only about 300 American adoptions from this country a year. In the aftermath of the earthquake, American interest in Haitian adoptions has increased greatly.

People everywhere are feeling a tug on their hearts to bring these vulnerable Haitian orphans to safety. They desire to provide them with what would seem to be a basic human right — a family.

Unfortunately, as time consuming and difficult as it was to adopt a child from Haiti prior to the earth quake, the process has only become more complex.

According to Laura McBride, at McBride Family, adopting a child from Haiti before the January 12th earthquake took about two years. She estimates now that it would take even longer due to the government offices being destroyed, and many government officials losing their lives in the earthquake. McBride states that she hopes somehow the process is streamlined, but people need to prepare for the opposite to be true.

Activities by the Haitian government confirm that a longer time frame looks like it will be a reality. In addition to Haiti not currently accepting adoption applications, the government now requires Prime Minister Max Bellerive to personally authorize the removal of any child. Though this can seem frustrating to those who want to bring a susceptible child to safety, this law has been put in place to protect the children from an even greater threat than the physical aftermath of the earthquake, sex trafficking.

In addition to sex trafficking, there is a risk that the children being adopted may not actually be orphans. If they are orphans, there is also the possibility that a family in Haiti is able to care for them. According to RainbowKids, the first priority is to find these children a family in their birth country. Due to the limits within the Haitian government and the current amount of children displaced from their families, determining which children are legitimately orphans looks to be a lengthier process than it was prior to the recent devastation.

If you are feeling a tug on your heart to help a child suffering in Haiti, don’t let these barriers stop you! McBride encourages people to not be discouraged when it comes to adopting. As a mother of three children adopted from Haiti, she knows firsthand that there are many precious children wanting families to love them. She also brings up an important truth, there are millions of orphaned children in the world and every child deserves a family.

If adoption is on your heart, and it is not possible through Haiti right now, adopting domestically or from another country is a viable option to consider. If you are interested in adopting, the first recommended step is to educate yourself on adoption guidelines.

Rainbowkids has an excellent source of information on many countries, including Haiti and the U.S. They also have a tool that allows you to contact multiple agencies for more information in a concise way.

If helping the children of Haiti is something you desire and adopting is not an option, now or in the future, it is recommended to donate to the Haitian orphans through a reputable charity or humanitarian group. One group that is currently on the ground in Haiti is Food for the Hungry.  Their website, offers information on providing aid, including how to sponsor a child.