Adoption or abduction?

With the ongoing furore around the US Baptist missionaries recently arrested trying to take 33 children out of earthquake-devastated Haiti, I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking about international adoptions. 

With no documents giving them custody of the children the missionaries were detained on suspicion of kidnapping, trafficking and conspiracy. I have no doubt that their intentions were of the most noble and that they wanted to do nothing more than remove the children from all the trauma they had experienced and place them in a happier, more stable environment. But did they really think about what they were doing?

Firstly, there is the question of whether the children were orphans in the true sense of the word – had they lost both parents? And if they had (which is apparently rare, except in Africa where Aids is rampant), what efforts were made to find other surviving relatives able to take care of them?

Inter-country adoption may, on the surface, seem to provide a wonderful solution for both the children and families concerned, but does it really alleviate the problems of poverty and abuse?

I agree with the writer of an article published in The National Newspaper, who states:  “International adoption is clearly the best option for children who would otherwise languish neglected in orphanages, particularly those with some disability which can be treated or accommodated in the US. But it should be a last recourse, and not used so soon after a natural disaster.

“Adoptive families tend to think that their actions reduce the number of abandoned children; alas, in poor, easily corruptible countries, the reverse is often the case. The prospect of international adoption tends to increase the number of abandoned babies.

“All adopted children want to know, sooner or later, where they came from. Any suggestion that they were taken from a parent who, with some outside help, could have looked after them will not help them adjust to their new country.”

Additionally, if the children are moved to another country the chances of them staying in touch with their biological families drops significantly.

Actress Angelina Jolie, herself an adoptive mother and a proponent of international adoptions, recently spoke out against adopting Haitian children in the aftermath of the earthquake. “New adoptions should definitely not be encouraged as an immediate response to the emergency,” she said. Haiti had many trafficking problems before the earthquake and now must keep a very close watch on the children. I would encourage as much support as possible to groups like UNICEF providing care for children in country.” (Read the full article here.)

The wound that is created after removing a child (however gently) from its birth family never truly heals. Would it not be better to sponsor a child financially from abroad, while allowing them to remain with their family, in their own country?

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