Thursday, February 4, 2010

Haiti revisited

Following up on my last post about concerns re: child trafficking in Haiti...

I've been following the story about the American Baptists who were arrested as they tried to cross into the Dominican Republic with 33 children. Initially, it seemed like there were just issues of communication and the general consensus was that they were trying to do a good thing, though certainly going about it in the wrong way.

Now, as the 10 Americans are jailed and charged with kidnapping and criminal association, other bits of information are trickling out that seem to raise additional questions:
Group leader Laura Silsby has said they were trying to take orphans and abandoned children to an orphanage in the neighboring Dominican Republic. She acknowledged they had not sought permission from Haitian officials, but said they just meant to help victims of the quake.


Several parents of the children in Callebas, a quake-wracked Haitian village near the capital, told The Associated Press Wednesday they had handed over their children willingly because they were unable to feed or clothe their children and the American missionaries promised to give them a better life.

Their accounts contradicted statements by Silsby, of Meridian, Idaho.

In a jailhouse interview Saturday, Silsby told the AP that most of the children had been delivered to the Americans by distant relatives, while some came from orphanages that had collapsed in the quake.

I'm not saying that these people rise to the level I would have defined as "evil" in my last post on the topic. I reserve that for those who would steal away children to exploit them or profit by them. Nevertheless, when you read:
  • that Silsby didn't believe that the children turned over to her were either orphans or brought by distant relatives,
  • that parents have clearly come forward about their children, and
  • an acknowledgment by that those children without parents might be have been put up for adoption
it does send a chill down my spine to think that an act of misguided and haphazard charity could have come so close to permanently separating children from their families.

As a prospective adoptive dad, I think long and hard about how our hoped-for Plus One will join our family. Thankfully, based on what I've read and experienced thus far, the adoption process and the people who work with the expectant mother (or orphans) and the adoptive parents are, by and large, doing things the right way and for the right reason to the benefit of the expectant mom (and perhaps dad), the child, and the adoptive parents.

However, there is still an element of the wild west out there in countries like Haiti and elsewhere. It's incumbent upon us, as participants in the process, to ensure that every step reflects the highest level of honesty, ethical behavior, and truth. Without it, there can be no trust and our families will be built upon a unstable, dangerous, and tragic foundation.