The chaos of post-earthquake Haiti poses many dangers for children, not least among them human traffickers posing as prospective adoptive parents. The Haitian government and aid agencies hope to thwart this exploitation--and the adoption of children temporarily separated from their families--by tightening the adoption process. But how will this impact prospective parents who filed adoption applications years ago? Or those who, moved by images of suffering children, wish to adopt as a form of aid?
- We Must Speed up the System, urge senators like Mary Landrieu and Kit Bond, who have penned a bill that would expedite the adoption of Haitian orphans by U.S. families. "The old regular process, the old regular bureaucracy, is not going to work," Landrieu said. The bill would establish an adoption office within the State Department and focus on reuniting Haitian children with family members while reducing red tape for the adoption of confirmed orphans.
- No--We Should Slow it Down, argues Elizabeth Foy Larsen (an adoptive mother herself) at The Daily Beast. The U.S. has eased visa requirements for children who had been matched with American families before the earthquake, which is all well and good. But we shouldn't let our desire to help drown out the wisdom of working to verify the backgrounds of children and prospective families, however long this may take: "While it may feel counterintuitive, the best way to help the children of Haiti is not to move heaven and earth to bring them into American homes... As any adoptive family knows, adoption lasts a lifetime. Haitian parents, children, and potential adoptive parents deserve more than a quick fix."
- Build an 'Army of Grannies' Instead, suggests adoption expert Dr. Jane Aronson at Lisa Belkin's Motherlode blog. "Adoption is not the way to solve absolutely massive, tragic issues of vulnerable children," Aronson explains. Instead, she proposes "conscripting an army of grannies," or Haitian women who would be given aid money to care for orphaned children.
- Don't Repeat 'Operation Baby-Lift,' writes Mirah
Riben in the Times of Trenton,
referring to the lawsuit resulting from U.S.'s post-war relocation of 2,500
Vietnamese children. After they've survived an earthquake and the deaths or
disappearances of family members, she argues, the last thing children need is
the psychological trauma of cultural displacement. Overseas sympathizers should
instead "respect those most suited to provide a non-biased response and help
them to help the children of Haiti
without fear of exploitation by donating to reputable organizations."