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Haiti’s Children

February 2, 2010

Any other news junkies out there feeling a bit numb about the Haiti situation?

Please don’t confuse numb with disinterested or tired of. My heart goes out to all Haitians as they cope with varying levels of powerlessness–especially those men, women and children who lost loved ones in the tragic earthquake. But that’s just it–how do you respond to a natural disaster like this? How do you serve the poor, the homeless of the world? I know a lot of people praying, and I don’t want to discredit the power of prayer, but can we do more? I’ve given about $50 in contribution to Haiti-related causes. Katie has bought several items from artisans at etsy.com, with proceeds going to Haitian charities. I cleaned out my closet a few weeks ago and contributed the five bags of unusable (to me, anyway) clothes to a non-profit collecting items for Haiti. Somehow this doesn’t seem enough.

I read a very fascinating story on NY Times today–you can read the full text here–about ten Americans who were arrested by Haitian officials as they attempted to rescue 33 Haitian orphans, with intentions of building an orphanage in Hispaniola and potentially adopting them for themselves or to American families. These 10 were from an American church group on a mission trip entitled “Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission”, and reportedly, their itinerary included “Gather 100 orphans from Port-au-Prince’s streets and collapses orphanages and return to Santo Domingo (the site of the American orphanage).

Technically, the illegalities occurred through the fact that all adoptions in Haiti must have the consent of Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive due to an alarming increase of traffickers taking poor Haitian children, orphans or otherwise, and placing them essentially in foster/holding homes with hopes of illegal adoptions (best case scenario) or prostitution and slavery (worst case scenario). They did not get appropriate signatures, and they broke the Haitian law.

One government spokeswoman was quoted as saying, “If people want to help the children of Haiti, this is not the way to do it.” I’m wondering about the profoundness in that statement. Do we have the right to go to a land of poverty and “rescue” children through international adoption efforts, especially through the described methods, which I perceive as people essentially picking homeless-looking children off the street? Is that a Christian mission or an American mission? How different are those terms?

I want to make this a blog series through three thoughts I have in exploring these questions–these aren’t answers to these difficult questions, but are wonderings I had that would have made this post way too long. I first wanted to leave these questions open-ended and hear from people in blog world, so feel free to leave comments. Tomorrow, Thursday, and Friday afternoon, I’ll have new posts up that consider these three ideas.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 3, 2010 3:19 pm

    You need to teach me how to ask questions like this.

    I, too, am fascinated by this story. I think you are right, though, that this is more an American mission than a Christian one, especially in light of another NY Times story that interviewed some of the parents of the “orphans,” who claim that the American missionaries told them they were going to the DR for education and that they would be able to visit their children whenever… Possibly the missionaries are lying; or the parents; or both.

    If nothing else, it shows exceptional arrogance and naivety on the part of the Idahoans. If nothing else, it has implications on our social responsibility to be informed in whatever Christian mission we undertake.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/world/americas/03orphans.html

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