Sunday, January 24, 2010

Haiti

Probably like 99% of all of us, Haiti has been on my mind almost non stop these past few weeks. How could it not be? Everybody has posted about the tragedy it is, and about getting aid to the country, who to give to, and how to help on the ground. Not as many people have written about what has me pretty concerned.


It has happened over and over again in history. Everybody has a soft spot for "the poor orphans." First was Vietnam, where we airlifted babies out, some of which had existing family in Vietnam. We don't often hear about that part of the story. Then came Romania. Some news program did a story on orphanage conditions there, and America's response was to "save" those poor babies. A thriving international adoption program started in Romania because of a single news story. And eventually the same program stopped because of horrific corruption. Now it is Haiti's turn to be the "benefactor" of American pity. I'm not saying that those who would "save" a Haitian orphan are wrong to feel that way. But I am very concerned about how some want to go about it.


Let me say that I applaud the efforts of USCIS and DOS to this point. They have REALLY worked hard for the children of Haiti who were already in the adoption process. My friend who has waited for her son for 3.5 years was united with him yesterday. Finally. What needed to happen for Isaac, happened for Isaac. And for hundreds of other children .


I believe that all children who were in orphanages BEFORE the earthquake AND had been declared orphans by the legal process in Haiti, should be eligible to come to the United States eventually, even if adoptive parents weren't yet identified for them. And that's as far as I go.


There are very well-meaning people out there who are reacting with raw emotion rather than common sense. There are people who think we should allow every child who doesn't currently have a guardian to come to the U.S....to be put into sponsor homes here...and to eventually be adopted. This is ludicrous to me. People have been separated by their loved ones in this tragedy. It is way too early to tell who is an orphan and who has a loving family member desperately trying to find their child. Are we really going to add insult to injury by taking their children?!


I've seen media coverage where people are lining up outside of American adoption agencies, wanting to adopt from Haiti. Again, I have no doubt that these are well-meaning people. But really? Why weren't you interested in adoption 2 weeks ago? Two weeks ago Haiti was still the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Two weeks ago there were still hundreds of thousands of Haitian orphans to be adopted. Did you really not know about them then?


There was barely a functioning adoption process BEFORE the earthquake. Like I said, my friend has been waiting for her son for over 3 years. She got her referral of Isaac BEFORE we got our referral for Bright, and Bright has been home 2.5 years!!!! Families who adopt from Haiti are the toughest of the tough. They know they will battle every minute of every day for years to bring their children home, but they still do it because they are THAT committed.


If the adoption process was so wrought with complications before the earthquake, just IMAGINE what it would be now. Well, honestly, it can't BE now. There is no way to process a Haitian adoption at this point. Orphans are not the number one issue for the Haitian government right now, which is the way it should be. Haiti needs to focus on getting their government in working order again for basic care of their citizens. They need to work on caring for all citizens of Haiti; all children, including orphans but not especially orphans.


There are already rumors of child trafficking. [And someone I know says this is not a rumor but fact.] I thought it would take a bit longer before folks decided to try to profit off these children, but I guess I had rose colored glasses on. People are stealing children who have not been identified as orphans, and selling them to families in Europe. All in the name of "saving" the children. Maybe US agencies aren't going to go that far, but I GUARANTEE that there are going to be US agencies who try to check in and see how they can profit from these children.


So my plea is this: PLEASE, pray for the children of Haiti. If you have been touched by the plight of orphans in Haiti, send aid! LOTS of aid! They cannot be taken from their country at this time. There is no infrastructure to do so, ethically. If the plight of Haiti's orphans have opened your eyes to international adoption, great! There are 150 million orphans around the world that are not in Haiti, and can benefit from your open heart. Eventually, people will be able to adopt Haiti's orphans again, but not right now. In the mean time, consider opening your heart to adopting one (or more) of the world's other orphans. Their plight is no less moving. It just doesn't happen to be front page news. Please, stand up for the rights of these children to be with their remaining family if at all possible. Do not accept any plan that would take children out of Haiti before they have been legally and ethically declared orphans. This means they have no living or capable parent or relative who can care for them. This means they cannot be adopted within Haiti by another Haitian family. Stand up for these children. This is how we can show them the most love.


Anita

18 comments:

Kerri 5:52 PM  

Thanks so much for saying this. I have thought the same thing but it's great to hear it from someone like you who has the adoption experience you do, both as a parent and a professional.

Jena 6:01 PM  

THANK YOU ANITA!!!!
As an adoptive parent and as one who has worked to bring light to the horrific abuse that happens in the international adoption process, I too have been impressed(and I do not say that lightly) by our governments response....
I have been HORRIFIED by the media coverage and the gross distortions of reality that are being spread to the general public.
What has happened thus far in Haiti, WAS NOT, a babylift, and God forbid(I mean that) that such thing would occur.

Laurel 6:12 PM  

Yes!!! This needed to be said! I had these thoughts ... but didn't know how to say things quite so succinctly.

Keep sharing your heart, even when it's the tough stuff that some people don't want to hear.

How many people decided last week, "Oh. I should adopt an orphan." What?! This is NOT a spur of the moment decision to make.

mama of 13

Stephanie 6:14 PM  

Very well said! I have had people contact me about adopting and said if adoption is on their hearts they should consider adopting from elsewhere.

azdavidson 6:18 PM  

Such a well worded post.

I was impressed as I had an acquaintance contact me about adopting right after the earthquake because they were considering it before and this made them decide to move forward. They knew they couldn't adopt from Haiti, but it made them want to adopt another child from somewhere else because they recognized that there are many other kids that need homes and are ready for homes now.

Nadia 6:33 PM  

AMEN!

on the Haitian Angels group people keep joining to find out how to adopt..many of us oldies keep saying, WHAT PROCESS..the buildings are flat, half the people might be dead(I've heard the judge is) like HOW is it possibly going to happen. it just frustrates me.

Story of our Life 7:14 PM  

Very well said Anita!!

Kait 7:58 PM  

I am SO glad you wrote this. I agree that people have their hearts in the right place but we already have an overcrowded foster care system. Why are people suddenly willing to foster Haitian orphans but wouldn't have fostered previously? Why wasn't adoption on their radar prior to this? Haiti needs help but swooping in and stealing children from their homeland is NOT the answer.

Kait 7:58 PM  

I am SO glad you wrote this. I agree that people have their hearts in the right place but we already have an overcrowded foster care system. Why are people suddenly willing to foster Haitian orphans but wouldn't have fostered previously? Why wasn't adoption on their radar prior to this? Haiti needs help but swooping in and stealing children from their homeland is NOT the answer.

sara 10:20 PM  

Thank you for your post. My husband and I have been talking for about a year about adopting. We have been to Haiti, and had decided that we would eventually adopt from Haiti. Now that this tragedy has happened, we have put Haiti on the back burner for now, and are discussing either domestic or another international program will be where we start. If and when a program gets started back up in Haiti, we will go there for at least one child. I pray the world never forgets Haiti, and that people who want to adopt will consider Haiti in the future, but clearly, now is not the time.

Renee Moak 10:35 PM  

Can't they find homes in the States for those orphaned BEFORE the quake and free up some space and supplies for the children who's situations are unknown? I share your thoughts on those suddenly recognizing the orphan crisis (that previously had fallen on deaf ears!), but also know that the decision to adopt can be made literally overnight. It happened to us quite by surprise with the adoption of our teenage son from Ethiopia a few years ago. You never know how God will use people and when.

Ericka 6:50 AM  

AMEN Anita.
Thank you for putting so eloquently into words what I've been thinking/feeling.
Hugs!

Jena 7:09 AM  

do you mind if I copy your post and put it up on my blogs?
I will of course, link here and give you credit, I just really couldn't say it better...

FullPlateMom 9:31 AM  

You go Anita!!!! You are right on.

I have NO experience with Haiti and people are asking me if we will adopt there next (just because my kids are black). I have told them exactly what you said, that it would be a HUGE human rights violation to allow any adoptions to go on right now for people that weren't in process before this horrific disaster. How can you really get birth parent consent when you aren't sure if a birth parent is alive or dead? Adoption is a two way street, you are giving a child a home, but a birth parent is giving you the best gift they ever could. Isn't a little disrespectful to just assume that because people are poor and have been victims of a natural disaster that they would want their children placed with another family? We need to help rebuild a stronger Haiti, not steal its children.

If you want to adopt please consider the MANY children that are waiting in other countries, they were waiting before, and they're still waiting now.

--Becky

Arnold family 9:50 AM  

Very well said, and I couldn't agree more. I pray that God will forgive the world for ignoring the orphans in Haiti before 1/12/10 and maybe people will adopt an orphan from anywhere that there is need.

A. Gillispie 10:36 PM  

Jena, absolutely not. Post away. I'm feel honored that you would even think it was worthy!
Anita

Momto14 1:33 AM  

I felt like I could have written this post. So many feelings going around these past days when I get email after email day after day from people wanting to adopt a haitian orphan. And many didn't even know where Haiti was before the quake. I feel like my social circle is mainly women who love Haiti- who know Haiti and many people emailing me didn't even know where Haiti was! (I have heard that at least once a day... its annoying.) anyhow- thank you for writing this and for caring about the orphans and the non-orphans who will find their families.
praying

bbqdaisy 10:19 PM  

Amen, very well said Anita!
Blessings
Maria