brotherpeacemaker

It's about our community and our spirituality!

Americans Trafficking In Haitian Children

One thing that’s a given any time you do anything concerning an adoption is consult an attorney familiar with the law.  The process for adoption can be a long and messy one when the would-be parents and the child to be adopted speak the same language and live in the same vicinity and are already familiar with each other.  The process is complicated many times over when the adoption process crosses international borders and when the parents and child come from cultures speaking different languages and have never actually visited each other and are not even remotely familiar with each other.

International adoptions with the children of Haiti are further complicated by the fact that the country is in a shambles from the 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 12th.  The government is in disarray and adoptions have been halted in order to assure that children who are separated from their parents or family are not taken advantage of and are removed from Haiti before they can be reunited.  That effort is more important now more than ever.  Knowing the importance of making sure children aren’t being stolen is probably a top priority at the borders and ports leading out of the devastated country.

So when a bus of ten Americans shows up at the land border separating Haiti from the Dominican Republic with thirty three undocumented Haitian children, some as young as two months old,  it probably didn’t take much for the border guards to consider something might be wrong with that picture.  The group of Americans was arrested and the children were placed in a Haitian orphanage.  Just three days later, according to the group taking care of them while the case is being investigated by the government as a child trafficking crime, at least ten of the Haitian children have been identified and their parents located.

The Americans claim to be part of a church organization that was trying to transfer the children to a yet to be established orphanage in the Dominican Republic.  But instead of establishing the orphanage first and then offering its services to the country of Haiti, the group decided it would take the maverick route and steal the children first, put them in a hotel, and then establish the orphanage.  And I have yet to hear anyone say that these people were looting Haiti for its children.  Like law enforcers the world over, the people patrolling the Haitian streets will shoot a black man on suspicion of stealing a bag of rice, but white people stealing children will be given the benefit of a judicial process.

A relative of one of the Americans detained says that the group had only the best of intentions for the children.  Drew Ham, a pastor with the Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho and associated with the detained Americans, said there has been a gross misunderstanding.  Mr. Ham says that the group was only trying to help and thought they were acting by the book.  But Mr. Ham never admitted that the book the group was following was a book of fairytales.  Who knew that things like a passport and adoption documentation was necessary to leave or enter a country?  Mr. Ham said all the children had been verified as orphans and had come from a well known Port-au-Prince orphanage that he could not name.

In the wake of the earthquake that has significantly damaged Haiti and left more than a hundred fifty thousand people dead, governments and private organizations are working together to provide for the children who were made particularly vulnerable.  Adoptions already in the pipe are being rushed to a close.  But since the quake, the Haitian government declared that no new adoptions could take place without the Prime Minister’s explicit permission.  The government has given very clear instructions that every adoption must be done in a formal manner.

The ten Americans were being held in a makeshift jail in the judicial police headquarters, which has also doubled as headquarters for Haiti’s hobbled government.  They may have honestly meant well.  But unfortunately, they may have had sinister intentions as well.  And the end does not justify the means.  Therefore, if the means looks sinister, it is sinister.  If laws were broken in the means, than the people who broke those laws are criminals.

Professor David Smolin wrote that there is no fool like the one who wants to be fooled.  Mr. Smolin was referring to people looking to adopt.  People eager to convince themselves that they are saving orphaned children from poverty, he wrote, they are easily fooled into adopting children from the developing world.  Mr. Smolin and his wife Desiree adopted two girls from India who did not take kindly to joining their large American family.  According to the Smolins, the two girls had a very, very difficult time assimilating from the very moment that they arrived.

That adoption took place in 1998.  The girls were ten and twelve years old at the time and had been living in an orphanage style hostel in India.  But they were not orphans.  In 2004, after a series of scandals that halted Indian adoptions, the Smolins were able to confirm what their adopted daughters were trying to tell them from the moment they arrived, that their parents had sent them to the hostel for an education and they had been adopted out without their parent’s consent.  Children from poorer countries have become a commodity and are often identified as orphans in order to satisfy a market niche.

Children from poor families in poor countries who for whatever reason wind up in an orphanage to receive food and care fall victim to other people who use false statements and/or money to separate kids from their parents.  Unfortunately for the ten Americans they seem to be neck deep in the middle of such an arrangement.  These people look like the guy who claims to have honestly purchased stolen goods.  When asked who sold them the stolen goods, nobody can be identified.

Trafficking kidnapped children is a serious offense.  If the group of Americans were told that thirty three children were free to be adopted from a guy they just met a few days before and believed that they had all the necessary documentation without employing a lawyer or using the American consulate, they were some serious suckers looking for a good sucking.  They were fools looking to be fooled.  It looks like they hit the jackpot.

Sunday, January 31, 2010 - Posted by | Life, Thoughts |

2 Comments »

  1. Watching the TV coverage, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling the urge to take those children out of danger and into my home. But I can also imagine how I would feel if those were my children, or my nieces or nephews, or my cousin’s children. There is likely to be some family somewhere.

    I do suppose that the church members were acting on a heart-felt urge to protect and care for the children. But I wonder how many of them speak Creole and/or how many of the children are fluent in English? or how many church members or children were fluent in French? Was there an interpreter for the group? If so, how was this person found? The SOS Racisme orphanage where the children were placed got the information about the parents directly from one of the children. To me, this indicates at best that no one in the church group was able to communicate with the children, or if they could, then their concern was more for potential adoptions as a solution to the situation than for the real wants and needs of these kids. And, of course, a more cynical possibility has to be considered as well.

    Comment by Betsy | Monday, February 1, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback Betsy,

      It’s been a while…

      I will admit that my opinion is cynical. I cannot believe that these people honestly thought that they could simply swoop in and take so many children out of the country so easily. I want to help as well. I help by sending my monies to various relief agencies to aid in the relief effort. Trust me, I see the pictures of those children and I want to open my door as well. But I know for a fact that it’s not as easy as me just opening the door. And I definitely know it’s not as easy as me flying down to Port-au-Prince, meeting a guy I have never met who has all the answers and is able to make a process that sometimes takes years happen in a week or two. To me, it sounds like a clear case of fools looking to be fooled.

      Peace

      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Monday, February 1, 2010 | Reply


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