I am suffering an inordinate amount of anxiety over the adoption of these children. As grateful as I am for the outpouring of support, I have grown wary that many in their noble attempt to help the children will fail to protect them and allow the process of verification to lapse leading to harm.
Child sex traffickers become even more industrious in their attempts to place children on the black market during times of chaos, exploiting instances of national emergencies and natural disasters such as the earthquake that rocked Haiti. Some media outlets have been portraying Haitian adoption laws as restrictive and as I now witness the melee surrounding these children, they are understandably so. Now more then ever, with these children at risk, this is not the time to be sending children abroad, jetting them out of the country.
I also want those of you reading this post to understand how orphanages in Haiti work. Here is an excerpt from a long series of e-mails regarding the situation in Haiti:
An important point to remember is that the way orphanages work in Haiti is very different from what we [Americans] know orphanages to be. Due to political instability, poverty, etc., many families put their children in orphanages to ensure that they are off the streets, have a place to sleep, and have a bit of food to eat. This is not to give them away nor are the families under the assumption that they may never see their children again. Further, many do not realize that they are permanently signing away their parental rights when they put their children in those US /Euro missionaries orphanages. This is why Haiti changed their adoption laws and foreign adoptions take so much longer than Haitian/Haitian adoptions.
As members of the international community, we should be seeking reunification of these children with family members. Taking them out of the country will not only lead to a permanent physical separation but a cultural one as well. Haiti has just suffered a devastating setback and needs to rebuild; the country needs a posterity in order to accomplish that.
The disconnection of these children from their families and the land all in the name of nobility can backfire in unimaginable ways. Now is the time for the re-staging of the adoption debate taking place, we must not only think of how can we "save" these children who needed help a long time before the earthquake hit but how can we invest in their futures so that they can develop in terms of human capital in an economy with so little financial capital.
Follow Martha St Jean on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MarthaStJean