' [Birth Mother] First Mother Forum: Let's Hear it For the Haitian Government

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Let's Hear it For the Haitian Government

Let’s hear it for the Haitian officials who stopped 10 Americans with a busload of Haitian children at the Dominican Republic border. Let’s hope that images of these Americans sitting in a Haitian jail discourage others planning to save children while supplying the rapacious American demand for foreign children.

We at FMF thought sanity had prevailed over the initial rush to bring Haitian children to the US for adoption and we could turn our attention to other events. After all, respected voices in international adoption, including Susan Soon-Keum Cox, Vice-President of Holt International Children’s Services, and Jane Aronson, director of Worldwide Orphans Foundation, have urged restraint. (Red Tapes Holds Haitian Families Together and Putting the Brakes on Haitian Adoptions

We were overly optimistic.

Haitian officials caught these Americans, eight whom were affiliated with two Baptist churches in Idaho, trying to cross into the Dominican Republic with 33 Haitian children. Led by Laura Silsby, CEO of PersonalShopper.com, an online shopping assistance company, they were on their way to Cabarete, DR where they had turned a hotel into a makeshift orphanage. Operating under the auspices of New Life Children’s Refuge which Silsby had incorporated on November 25, 2009, they planned to build new facilities in nearby Magante which would eventually hold 150 children and provide them “with a solid education and vocational skills as well as opportunities for adoption into a loving Christian family.” These facilities would also include “villas for adopting parents to stay while fulfilling requirements for 60-90 day visit” according to the New Life website.

At least some of the children were not orphans. Their parents told reporters for the NY Times that they agreed to allow their children to go with the missionaries because the missionaries had promised the children would receive an education in the DR. The missionaries told the parents that they would be able to visit their children and the children would be free to come home for visits.

We’ve seen this before. The mass removal of Native American children and Australian aborigine children. Operation Babylift and Pedro Pan. Orphan trains and Georgia Tann. A fanatical rush to save children resulting in needless suffering for them and their parents. Meanwhile, there are 123,000 American children are in foster care awaiting adoption.

In other news on the Haitian front, fifty children were brought to Utah under the auspices of the Wasatch International Adoption Agency Monday night. WIA is planning to bring 15 more who are “stranded” in Haiti, caught up in bureaucratic red tape” according to ABC news in Ogden.


  1. Children really are vulnerable, and posts such as yours and articles like this one (http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/showlink.aspx?bookmarkid=2ZKQBVUX5U7&preview=article&linkid=b6c2c93a-0b1f-4675-907a-1b90b38568b1&pdaffid=ZVFwBG5jk4Kvl9OaBJc5%2bg%3d%3d) just add to the scope of vulnerability. We really need to help.


  2. I am embarrassed by the superiority complex displayed by the U.S. government in expediting the release of 497 "orphans" (as of Jan 19th, I believe) to U.S. adopters, largely due to the media frenzy where gazillions of children were portrayed to be 100% orphaned. I grieve for the mothers who may never know if their children are dead or alive in the U.S. somewhere. I grieve for the children who have lost original identity, their cultural roots, their original families and will no doubt have new belief systems demanding to replace the old ones. I wonder how Haiti will recover if we remove so many of its youth.

    It appears as though this fundamentalist group was only punished because they did not do proper paperwork. Those that did do the paperwork got to take "orphans" out. Shame on those with papers and those without papers. Either way, adoption was used as a humanitarian aid which I feel was not an appropriate response. Shame on those who couldn't hand out food and water to ALL: men, women, children, the disabled, the sick and the elderly but thought it best to remove the children for adoption. Call me cruel but I'm not very enthusiastic at those who expedited the adoption process for those already in the pipeline during such a tragedy--I hope they took all the proper precautions and safeguards.

    Thank you Jane for calling attention to the issues in Haiti.

  3. Sadly, MediaMentions, this is a pay site and hard for some of us to spend money on right now. However, I am delighted that the artice is on PAGE 1 of the Washington Post! Fantastic.

  4. Yesterday I watched an interview with some of these baby-snatchers (there is no other word to call them). It made me physically ill to listen to them - they just wanted to "help", they only had the "best intentions," they were just trying to "rescue the children" and now they don't understand why they are in jail.

    Well lady, it has something to do with international laws, child trafficking, and you & your gang of yokels ignoring the repeated warnings you received to *NOT* remove these children from Haiti. You knew what you were doing was wrong and illegal but you did it anyway. That's why your skinny white butt landed in jail.

    Kudos to the Haitian government for doing the right thing - I hope these folks get to sit in a Haitian jail for a good long time so they can think about the gravity of what they have tried to do (though I highly doubt they will).

  5. http://www.cubirthparents.org/haiti.html


    SAN DIEGO, February 3, 2010 – Concerned United Birthparents (CUB) urges the governments of Haiti and the U.S. to stand strong against suggestions that the best way to help Haiti’s children is by removing them from their families, culture and homeland.

    A national non-profit of birthparents, adoptees and adoptive parents, CUB shares the world’s concern for Haiti’s most vulnerable in the wake of the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010. But the 33-year-old non-profit says it has a unique understanding of how important it is to reject quick-fix solutions when it comes to a child’s life, especially in its time of greatest need.

    “Years of working with family members who were separated by adoption have taught us that good intentions are not enough,” said CUB president Mary Lou Cullen. “The hasty transfer of traumatized children, many with family status unknown, to foreign shelters, foster care or adoption agencies, should not be tolerated. Haiti's devastation should not be compounded by anything that inadvertently, or intentionally, contributes to the risk of family separation for any purpose.”

    As the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners – including the Haitian Government and the Red Cross – establish safe spaces for the hundreds of thousands of children separated from their families before and after the earthquake, and begin to register all unaccompanied minors, CUB urges the governments of the U.S. and Haiti to halt any further airlifts of children or any new adoptions.

    In addition, CUB urges that any groups with clear or potential conflicts of interest – such as adoption agencies and ministries – be removed from the decision-making process about how best to serve Haiti’s children. Humanitarian policies should be applied on a case-by-case basis for those children whose legal adoption had already been approved, and were in the process of being adopted, with the support of the latest and best practices in the field. “But,” Cullen says, “all other pending adoptions should be immediately suspended.”

    Haitians living in the U.S. should get help to locate their youngest relatives on the island, and the transfer of any children with documented parents or family members in the U.S. should be expedited, for temporary or permanent placement.

    The recent arrest of an Idaho church group for transporting 33 Haitian children across Haiti’s border – without papers or approval – has drawn the world’s attention to what can happen when well-meaning but ill-informed forces swoop in to “help.”

    MORE ABOUT CUB: Through a network of regional groups and an annual conference, CUB provides mutual support for the ongoing challenges of adoption – resources, referrals and a strong network – and works to educate the public about adoption issues and realities. It also assists adoption-separated relatives searching for family members, opposes unnecessary family separations and supports adoption reform in law and social policy.

    For more information or to arrange an interview with a CUB representative, please contact Eileen Drennen at 800-822-2777, ext. 81, or send an email to vpmedia@cubirthparents.org.


  6. Melynda, you took the words right out of my mouth. I'm suspect of missionaries in general anyway, and I don't believe for one second that they didn't know exactly what they were doing. I said in the comment thread of a previous post that all of this reeks of privilege and entitlement. I may have forgotten to mention colonialism. As for their "best intentions", don't forget where that can lead.

    Thank you, Jane and Lorraine, for keeping us up to date on this.

  7. Here are two articles on what a nasty piece of work Ms. Silsby, ring leader of the "steal a kid for Christ" Baptist Brigade. She is neither nice nor honest, evidently. Also they have all been charged with attempted kidnapping and are back in jail. Guess the Haitian judge was not amused.



  8. Yeah Maura, but they *really* should have been charged with the more serious allegations of kidnapping and child trafficking. The "steal a kid for Christ" gang could spend 9 years in prison for the child abduction charges - which is not nearly long enough. But then again, it will be spent in a Haitian prison so perhaps there is a bit of justice in the world.

  9. Yeah Maura, but they *really* should have been charged with the more serious allegations of kidnapping and child trafficking.

    I agree, Melynda. But it's something, you know? As Amanda pointed out above, until yesterday, they were being held only because their paperwork wasn't in order.

    I know I'm being petty, but I can't help feeling great satisfaction.

  10. Then I have good company, Maura. Satisfaction. That's exactly what I feel too.


  11. I am enjoying it too, Maura and Melynda. I am glad that those caught stealing kids in Haiti are so egregiously wrong, especially their leader Silsby. They are an illustration for the world of what kind of sleazy and deluded people make up the underside of international adoption, and how abuses happen.

    The more that comes out about Silsby, the more she seems a crass crook who deserves the stiffest sentence they can give her. Her crew may deserve lesser sentences if they were conned by her, but only if they see and admit that what she and they did was wrong. If not, they too deserve a long time in a Haitian prison.

    These people are a disgrace to the many religious groups that are actually helping in Haiti, without helping themselves to Haitian kids.

  12. Here's a NY Times story about Haitian orphanages. FYI: It's a tough read, and could be upsetting to some readers. I forced myself to get through it.



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