Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Adopting Haitian Orphans: Americans May Get Breaks but Advocates are Concerned Some Adoptees Not Orphans

I've been wondering what will happen to Haiti's children who've been orphaned by the earthquakes. CNN reports some U.S. senators are working to make it easier to adopt the orphans, and Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu is one of the lawmakers who wants to make that happen.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, said that the initial focus of the legislation would be on children orphaned by the January 12 earthquake in Haiti but that in the long term, it also would address other adoption efforts.

She and other senators will press this week to get the Families for Orphans Act out of a Senate committee so it can go to the floor for a vote, she said at a news conference. (Read more at CNN)


Landrieu says that generally children adopted under these circumstances are raised strong in America and then return to their native lands as adults to improve those countries.

At The Daily Beast, Elizabeth Foy Larsen, considers that some children who may be labeled orphans in Haiti are not really orphans. She suggests there's an American "free for all" to adopt the children that may result in errors.

In some cases, Unicef reports Haitian children have been stolen from hospitals, according to the End Human Trafficking blog at Change.org:
A number of child protection organizations have come together to ask would-be parents not to apply to adopt Haitian children. Since the earthquake, the number of adoption applications for Haitian children has soared from 10 per month to 150 in a three day period. One U.S. adoption agency claimed it has already received over 1000 applications for children from Haiti. Child advocacy groups are concerned, however, that a bump in adoptions of Haitian children will only encourage child traffickers to abduct children and pass them off as orphans, hoping to make a tidy profit from their sale. While Western families trying to adopt Haitian children likely mean well, they may encourage child trafficking within the country. If you are considering adopting a Haitian child, please consider donating instead to a child protection organization working in Haiti. (End Human Trafficking)
Child trafficking is not new in Haiti. Around the time of the earthquake, BlogHer.com contributing editor Kim Pearson wrote "Restavek and Child Slavery: Haiti's Other Earthquake." According to Pearson's post, Haiti's "grinding poverty is so pervasive that an estimated 300,000 children have been given up by their parents to become restavèks -- a creole term for children sent to become house servants to wealthier Haitians."

In addition, the rush to adopt Haitian children is raising concerns expressed by the Adoptees of Color Roundtable, a blog or website that seems to have sprung up with the Haiti adoption issue. A statement on Haiti from the person or organization has been circulating the web as objections to the adoptions from "domestic and international adoptees" of color. The following quote from that statement came to me in email after I wrote the first draft of this post.
“We uphold that Haitian children have a right to a family and a history that is their own and that Haitians themselves have a right to determine what happens to their own children. We resist the racist, colonialist mentality that positions the Western nuclear family as superior to other conceptions of family, and we seek to challenge those who abuse the phrase “Every child deserves a family” to rethink how this phrase is used to justify the removal of children from Haiti for the fulfillment of their own needs and desires. Western and Northern desire for ownership of Haitian children directly contributes to the destruction of existing family and community structures in Haiti. This individualistic desire is supported by the historical and global anti-African sentiment which negates the validity of black mothers and fathers and condones the separation of black children from their families, cultures, and countries of origin.” (as quoted at A Birth Project)
That particular concern has not been addressed by American legislators yet. However, Landrieu says in making the adoptions easier, the goal is to find genuine orphans and that America wants to work respectfully with the Haitian government but can't wait until that government is on its feet again.

More from CNN story:
Last week, the State Department said it was working with the Department of Homeland Security and the Haitian government to process nearly 300 cases of Americans who were waiting to adopt Haitian children. Of those, 200 cases were being accelerated, the agency said.

The department said that some of those orphans are eligible to come to the United States under a humanitarian waiver, unless they can be issued permanent papers.

Before the quake, 380,000 children in Haiti were classified as orphans, Landrieu said, quoting figures from the United Nations, which defines an orphan as someone who has lost one parent.
Landrieu is also in the news today for other reasons. A man involved in the "gotcha" ACORN video has been arrested for allegedly trying to bug the senator's office, reports multiple sources.
Alleging a plot to tamper with phones in Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu's office in the Hale Boggs Federal Building in downtown New Orleans, the FBI arrested four people Monday, including James O'Keefe, 25, a conservative filmmaker whose undercover videos at ACORN field offices severely damaged the advocacy group's credibility. (NOLA.com)
See NOLA.com for that story.

1 comment:

Eulipion said...

I think it is critical they be adopted by Hatian-Americans or resident Hatians, so they can be raised to the Creole language and Hatian culture.