U.S. group held after fleeing Haiti with children
American church members say they were saving orphans. Haitian officials allege an adoption scheme.
Members of a church group that tried to take Haitian children out of the country may have succumbed to an urge many humanitarian groups feel but resist, aid organizations say.
Ten American Baptists were scheduled to have a hearing today in the Haitian capital after trying to take 33 children out of Haiti at a time of growing fears over possible child trafficking.
The church members, most from Idaho, said they were trying to rescue abandoned and traumatized children even though they lacked the proper paperwork to do so.
“The instinct to swoop in and rescue children may be a natural impulse,” Deb Barry, a child-protection expert with Save the Children, said in a statement Sunday. “The possibility of a child being mistakenly labeled an orphan in the chaotic aftermath of the disaster is incredibly high.”
Instead of ferrying children out of Haiti, Save the Children and UNICEF say they’re working to register children, including the 33 traveling with the Baptist group, to reunite family members who may be looking for one another.
The incident comes after Haiti’s government halted adoptions over concern that parentless or lost children are more vulnerable than ever to child trafficking.
Social Affairs Minister Yves Cristallin said the Americans were suspected of taking part in an illegal adoption scheme.
The group said its “Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission” was an effort to save abandoned children from death by taking them to an orphanage across the border in the Dominican Republic. The church members were arrested Friday night on a bus traveling with earthquake survivors ages 2 months to 12 years.
“In this chaos the government is in right now, we were just trying to do the right thing,” the group’s spokeswoman, Laura Silsby, said at the judicial police headquarters in the capital where the Americans were being held. No charges had been filed.
“Just because it’s a natural disaster doesn’t mean you can cut corners under what is under normal circumstances a legal and well-thought-out process,” Patrick McCormick of UNICEF said.
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Hastiness and ill-conceived actions
The plans of the diligent one surely make for advantage, but everyone that is hasty surely heads for want. — Proverbs 21:5
(Link to various translations of Proverbs 21:5)
However sincere and well-meaning the group of Baptist Americans may have been in their adoption fiasco, they would have done well to apply the above cited biblical scripture to their church organized actions. Anyone can identify with the desire to help the afflicted and save the distressed, but helping and saving have to be done in accordance with well-established rules and protocol.
Like the man from UNICEF said, “You can’t just go and take a child out of a country no matter what country you’re in. This is not what is done. There are processes that need to be followed. You can’t just pick up a child and walk out of the country with the child, clearly, no matter what your best intentions are.” — Kent Page, spokesman for UNICEF in Haiti.
Quote source: ABC News
Widows and fatherless boys
Annette Marie Hyder
Were our clothes old
hand-me-down, second time around
Did we feel the same?
You gave us your
glances down noses
picked clean of any
your shoulder stiff
from the effort of saying
rejection with embrace.
Did we notice?
to live and be content
came speckled with fat,
with cream, with gravy
from your food heavy mouth.
Could we hear you
through that mush?
The chill of our want
pricks along my mind
goose flesh the cloth
we had in common —
We see your shoulders breaking
in the vise of your hypocrisy.
Your teeth are soft now
from the decay you spout.
We watch them fall
out of your mouth
that has been as used
as a cliché.