Haiti's orphans: the fine line between
adoption and abduction
By: Almena Mayes, The Guildfordian
On Jan. 12, 10 Baptist missionaries
from Idaho were arrested at the Haitian-Dominican Republic border and
charged with kidnapping and child trafficking.
The missionaries said they were just trying to take the children to a
better life. The Haitian government, however, saw things differently.
According to the BBC, Jean Sainvil, a Haitian-born pastor now living in
America helped the missionaries gather the children, load them onto a
bus and proceed to the border.
Dominican authorities said the Americans had no documents to prove they
had cleared the adoptions of the children through any embassy, nor did
they have passports for the children. It became clear after the arrest
that many of the children were not orphans.
Richard Danzinger of the International Office of Migration (IOM) told
The Guilfordian that children found in disaster areas are not to be
adopted outside of their native country for at least two years.
However, despite this policy, many fast-tracking adoption procedures are
already under way in Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands,
Spain and the United States.
"Unfortunately many (child adoption) agencies feel that this (two
year period) is far too long for a child to wait for a suitable family
and better life," said Danzinger.
The IOM reported that in 2008, U.S. citizens adopted approximately 301
children from Haiti. As many as 600 or more were already in the queue
for adoption to the U.S. prior to the earthquake. Those adoptions will
go through; however, there will be very few new applications processed
until the dust settles and the status of the children is properly
"Haiti has long been known as one of the more difficult countries
from which to adopt" Tanya W., a social worker from Newark, N.J,
told The Guilfordian, "My husband and I have been trying to adopt a
Haitian infant for almost two years."
Adoption.com states that prospective parents wanting to adopt a child
from Haiti must acquire proper documentation from the surviving parent
or legal guardian as well as the regional Justice of the Peace.
The documentation must then be submitted to the immigration authorities
in Haiti, who in turn investigate the medical and psychological
well-being of the prospective parents and child. Finally, the adopting
parents or their legal representative must present the authorization in
civil court and obtain a Haitian legal document known as the "Acte
d'Adoption," which serves as the official adoption decree.
In spite of this process, child trafficking has grown in the aftermath
of the earthquake.
Allissa Silverman, Deputy Director of the Southeast Regional office of
UNICEF in Atlanta, Georgia, explained that Haiti is a target for many
child traffickers because of its impoverished people.
"Parents hoping to give their children better lives fall prey to
unscrupulous business people who, instead of giving the children the
lifestyle and education promised, sell them into the sex trade industry
or for illegal organ harvesting," she said.
UNICEF has already documented 15 confirmed cases of children missing
from area hospitals.
© Copyright 2010 The Guilfordian
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