' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Putting the Brakes on Haitian Adoptions

Monday, January 25, 2010

Putting the Brakes on Haitian Adoptions

Haitian adoptions continue to spill out into the news. On Saturday (1/23/10), 80 children left God's Children orphanage heading for their new American families, according to the Christian Science Monitor, "Haitian and American red tape suddenly cut." Exactly what we have been worried about, as per our previous post.

And our friend, Linda, reported in a comment to that blog that Frankie, the Haitian boy that Diane Sawyer met in Haiti, has come to the United States to live with David and Kim Rhodes, the American couple from Greenville, S.C., who for the last two years had been in the process of adopting him. (Watch the ABC follow up to the story here.) The report says that Frankie's mother left him a blanket and her perfume, and died a few days after childbirth.

Though we are extremely cautious on the subject of international adoption--given the corruption that accompanies it everywhere, as we have written before--the couple seem sincere in their desire to give a child in an orphanage a home. Kim Rhodes (I'm guess on the spelling here) first visited Haiti with a church group many years ago and was struck by the need, and so I am sympathetic to her impulse. The poverty I saw in Haiti when I was there as a journalist in the Seventies was staggering, while Baby Doc lived in the presidential palace (destroyed in the earthquake) and was busily looting the country, selling of logging rights that have today deforested much of the country. We look with a flinty eye on international adoption here at First Mother Forum, but we understand that an individual adoption may be a good ending to a bad beginning, and this adoption may be one of them. 

We are happy to report that more experts are cautioning that children not be lifted wholesale from the country so ravaged by a massive earthquake. As a commentator said yesterday on Good Morning America, there are reports of children disappearing from Haitian hospitals, and "child trafficking thrives in chaos." While the GMA cohost, Bill Weir, said that just about every woman he knows wants to adopt a child from Haiti (yes, he said that), Jane Aronson, the director of Worldwide Orphans Foundation, reacted with plenty of cautionary words yesterday. After giving the green light to those adoptions near finalization, she said that for the bulk of the children in Haiti, no matter how one responds to the pictures and reports of children walking the streets, the answer is "not adoption." My ears pricked up. She went on (and thanks to the DVR because I hit the record button at that moment I can give you her comments pretty much verbatim here). Aronson:

"There are wonderful solutions for children who have families--extended families, grandparents, aunts and uncles they have live with....Now people need to concentrate on helping keeping kids in their own country."

Weir then asked  how traumatic it was for a child to leave his or her native culture and come to America. Aronson:

"Kids are developmentally attached. Kids are--like your children, like my children--are connected to their families. That's developmentally appropriate. They are attached, their emotions, their psychology. They need to be with the people they care for and who care for them. To take them away from their families at this point is absolutely excruciatingly beyond words for me to even contemplate. (Italics ours.)

"What's important to remember is that children need to be with their families and communities at this time."

Where do we send the roses to Jane Aronson? 

Meanwhile, the European Union is not launching a plan to facilitate adoptions of child victims of the January 12 earthquake. According to a report from Deutsche-Presse Agentur, the idea was floated last week at an informal meeting in Spain, but the result was that the EU Commissioner for Justice, Jacques Barrot, announced that any such framework for adoptions at this time was premature. This followed a UN report that a "large number" of children may have been taken out of Haiti without following proper legal steps.

If you hit on link "international adoption" in the last line of the EU story reported above, you get an ad for an agency specializing in international adoptions, WACAP--the World Association for Children and Parents.

Excuse me while a black cloud of smoke forms over my head. If this were a graphic novel that's what  you would see.
Another episode of Lux and Cate and Baze tonight on Life Unexpected. 9 p.m. Eastern and Central time on the CW. I'll be watching. Check for review tomorrow.


  1. Another nice post, and thanks for the golumpki recipe:-) I never heard of putting ginger cookies in them, but you never know what might work.

    Certainly some decent and needed adoption will come out of Haiti but as many have said it it not "the answer" for any but a few kids relative to the large number of Haitians in need of all kinds of long-term assistance. Other means of aid are much more needed and will help many more children and keep them with family and friends.

  2. Thank you for keeping on top of this. I am concerned that aid for Haiti will become secondary to "rescuing" these children instead of arranging for their care within their culture of origin.

  3. Maryanne:

    Glad you snagged the recipe because it had been posted for over a week and I did not want people to think I had lost my er, meatballs.

    Chicken Cacciatore tonight.

  4. Thanks for the good post, Lorraine. I not see mention of the Jane Aronson interview before. She has redeemed herself in my eyes. She went whackjob over Orphan last year. I assume the film has not stopped USians from wanting to adopt Haitian orphans.

    While adoption is a stand alone issue, it is also a diversion of what is really going on down there with the Pentagon, Southcom, and USAID.

  5. Good post, Lorraine. Thanks for the update.

    It's good to hear that there are people/organizations/etc. who want to put the brakes on this. I've been as worried about kids being taken from their families as I have been about the disaster in general.

    Weir then asked how traumatic it was for a child to leave his or her native culture and come to America.

    I am hoping that this was a device on Weir's part to give Aronson an opening to explain just how traumatic it would be, and not a question he asked because he didn't actually know. I also hope that this:

    Bill Weir, said that just about every woman he knows wants to adopt a child from Haiti

    is an exaggeration, because, although I'm sure the women's intentions are good, it reeks of entitlement and privilege, in my opinion.

    On an entirely different note: Chicken Cacciatore. Yummy

  6. You are my go-to source for the Haiti/Adoption issue.

    I think the problem with adoption has always been thus - people are moved by the pictures of adorable children being placed in the arms of adoring adoptive parents. But as we all know that is only part of the story.

  7. Jane Aronson does seem to have refined some of her opinions since last year

  8. The Ellen show had a segment on Haiti and interviewed someone (did not catch who) but it related to an adoption in progress from Haiti whose child/children had come home. Anyway the point is the comments posted about the story - of course they all want to adopt...

    I wrote to Ellen telling her to research the dark side of adoption and about the Florida CC that wants to bring them over - you know why...and to take a stand against this and listen to Unicef. Just thought perhaps others may wish to tell Ellen to take a stand too.



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