Since the earthquake in Haiti, I have been wanting to post something, but I honestly have not been able to find the words. The devastation is beyond incredible. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried (no big surprise for me) while watching the news reports, wanting nothing more than to turn off the TV but knowing that I needed to see what was going on.

I’ve been asked on several occasions why we don’t just adopt a child from Haiti. Beyond the fact that we are committed to our Ethiopian adoption on numerous levels, the simple answer to that question is that it’s just not that simple. And really, except for the children who were already in the adoption process, this is a terrible time to consider adopting those children. We don’t know who is an orphan and who isn’t. We don’t know if children who lost their parents have other family members who can take care of them. We don’t know if children with living family members who cannot care for them have been properly relinquished. We just don’t know much at all, and keeping families intact is so important. We don’t want to remove children from their families and their culture if there are other options. International adoption needs to be the last resort.

[That statement holds true for children in Ethiopia or Russia or Korea or anywhere else. International adoption is the last resort.]

Of course, the need is tremendous and everyone wants to help. In my opinion (and that’s all it is – my opinion), the best thing we can do is send money to reputable organizations to make sure the children have safe places to live and food and water.

Now we’re hearing the story about the ministry group that took over 30 children from Haiti to the Dominican Republic without any documentation. Regardless of their intentions – which are yet to be fully determined – this type of thing just can’t happen. As terrible as this story may be, I actually think it’s good that it came to light, so that people have a better understanding of why we can’t just take children from one country to another without going through proper procedures.

I wish I had something more profound to say on these very important issues, but I just don’t.

If you’re interested in more information about Haiti and its orphans, check out this fabulous list of articles that Liz has compiled.

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15 Responses to haiti

  1. Kelly says:

    THANK YOU for saying this Kelly. It may be simple, but it IS profound. I saw the church group on the Today Show this morning. I too am glad this came to light now so that we can have this discussion about the proper place of adoption in a situation like this. You are right – it is the last resort. If you want to help, give resources to the rescue and recovery efforts. We support a group called Partners in Health which does amazing work in Haiti. If you haven’t read it already, you should pick up Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. It really inspired both Jon and me. http://tracykidder.com/

    • Kelly says:

      Thanks for the book suggestion. I just added it to my wishlist, where I’ve been adding all of the book suggestions I’ve gotten – just to keep track of them! I will definitely check it out.

  2. Jenny says:

    i know. i feel the same way. i wish i had something awesome to say, but i really don’t. it wouldn’t come out right. it’s all so horrible.

  3. Liz says:

    Thanks for the link! I was visiting family last week – first time since being back from Ethiopia with Elfe – and people kept saying things like “you could probably get a Haitian orphan now without waiting so long.” I just wasn’t prepared to respond in any kind of educational way so I just bit my tongue and tried to change the subject…I also heard a fair bit of racist commentary on how corrupt it is in Haiti, which is why I included those last two links in the list I compiled.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Beautifully put. I think Americans can be so fickle (?) with their affection. No one gave a rip about the people in Haiti until something devastating happened. And suddenly people line up in droves to adopt? How pure are these intentions? And have they really thought this through? Maybe I’m just bitter, but I feel like those people take adoption too lightly…

  5. Leah says:

    I’m on the same page as you. You can’t just decide to adopt a child, and bam, it’s done! So many of these Haitian children probably still have parents or relatives living, and those relatives need to be found first.

    Sometimes I don’t like the spotlight that adoption is all of a sudden in. People now all of a sudden care about adoption when there are many people who have always cared. It’s just frustrating to continue to get the comments about why you don’t adopt from Haiti.

  6. Christine says:

    Wonderfully put. I just think there are no words for some of this (all of this). I wish people understood that their well-meant intentions of “wanting to adopt a child from Haiti” are so naive and, in a way, hurtful.

  7. Meg says:

    Great post and well said! One poster above mentioned reading Moutains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder; I second that recommendation, it’s an amazing book and we too donated to Partners in Health in the wake of Haiti’s earthquake. Thanks for sharing. Meg B – Chicago

  8. angela says:

    Kelly I started a post and never finished it. It was written after seeing the “well intened” people on television, after they were stopped. It angered me that they thought they were doing the right thing.

    I know Haiti is poor and they’ve experienced a natural disaster, but that doesn’t give well meaning Christians the right to disregard international laws in place to protect children. .

  9. Belinda says:

    I was glad to see the gov’t fast track the adoptions that were already in process, so that there could be room freed up in the orphanages for new orphans. However, I also believe like yourselves that there are procedures in place to protect both parents and children when it comes to international adoption, and those must not be by-passed even in a time of great crisis.

  10. sue says:

    this is close to my heart as well. very well said. . .

  11. sarah says:

    Thanks for saying this. All of this talk about adoption and haiti has really been pissing me off lately! I agree with you 100%

  12. Mary says:

    Like so many others have said, I scarcely have words for this tragedy. It’s heartbreaking, and the thought that children are being potentially separated from their parents on top of everything else that’s happened, it’s terrible.

    We’ve been asked about switching to Haiti too, more times than I can count. I usually tell people that we can’t just switch over, that an ethical adoption requires much more time and legwork. And besides, our son is in Ethiopia. But I’m with you, it’s scary how many people think it’s just as easy as finding a child and bringing them home. So, so sad.

  13. E says:

    I received the “why don’t you just adopt from haiti?” comment myself. I wanted to tell the person that there isn’t a kiosk set up with babies and children to be given to any family that expressed an interest. Sheesh. I don’t believe that suggesting one try to adopt from a country whose entire infrastructure has collapsed is the best advice. The general public (non-adoptive) just has no idea.

    Thanks for posting about this. I think the best thing we can do is to NOT forget about the Haitian people. We can’t let the next big headline overshadow this tragedy.

  14. Tami says:

    Ha…I hadn’t even read this post yet. I’m just going to tell them to kick rocks from now on. LOL

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