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Haiti series- “It is madness. It is insane…” Bribes, Bullies, and Traffickers extract kids- Parts 1-3

As the Haitian child exports are receiving a great deal of attention at the moment I’d like to welcome new readers and recommend a visit to my about page and my WTF page. They answer many basic questions and lay out my comments policy.

If you are new to this series please backtrack and read the previous articles on my Haiti tag as this series relies upon definitions of words such as “orphanage” that I’ve already discussed in my previous Haitian posts. Then read my Introduction to this Series.

Without at minimum reading the short Introduction, you will miss the context these parts or chapters were written in.

I am an adult adoptee, writing from an explicitly Bastard perspective on these matters.

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Part 1: Basic Haiti to the U.S. adoption statistics

By way of gaining or regaining perspective, let’s start with some very basic statistics pertaining to the US importation of kids from Haiti.

Here are the United States Department of State’s figures on the number of Haitian children brought to the United States via inter-country adoption since 1998.

I’m going to copy the table in full, as I think it’s vital readers understand what we’re talking about here:

Fiscal Year Total Adoptions
1998 120
1999 96
2000 130
2001 192
2002 187
2003 248
2004 355
2005 234
2006 310
2007 191
2008 301

This would come out to a total of 2694 over the course of the 12 years. The top of the State Department page, however, states

The total number of Adoptions from HAITI to the United States is : 2712.

Perhaps they are aware of numbers not included in their table (or someone has a problem with basic math,) but even taking their higher number, dividing it by the 12 years the table covers to get an annual average, we come out to a whopping total of 226 kids per year.

Yes, you read that correctly. Pre-quake Haitian adoptions numbers to the US on average were BARELY OVER 225 KIDS  A YEAR!

As adoption is so central to American policy, both foreign and domestic, it seems every newspaper and TV network has turned into the ‘all Haitian adoption all time’ channels, to the exclusion of oh say, actual relief to the roughly 2.5 million to 3 million Haitians who lived in the Port-au-Prince region pre-earthquake.

This in a country where children make up just under half the population:

Expert estimates suggest that 46 per cent of Haiti’s nearly 10 million people are under 18 years of age.

Yes, the table above only represents the American piece of the Haitian child export pie, but my point is simply this, the numbers of children who will be affected even by all the child importing countries combined pale in comparison to the sheer numbers of children left in Haiti who in the aftermath of the earthquake have a variety of very basic needs: water, food, shelter, a safe place where they will not be simply grabbed and taken, etc.

If one genuinely cares about Haitian children, real humanitarian aid, firmly grounded in these basic needs must take precedence over the demand driven wants of both adopters and would-be-adopters in receiving countries.

Instead of policies firmly rooted in trying to help as many children as possible with real aid, countries are now instead fixated on ramming through years worth of importations and hoped-for eventual adoptions in just over a week.

Likewise, agencies are suddenly empowered to ram through any kid they had ‘well into the process’ (and apparently those in no process what-so-ever see part 4)  without Haitian finalization. While the floodgates are open, they’re racking up the numbers and pulling in the dollars just as fast as they can.

Part 2: A snapshot of the Haitian Government reaction to the exports

All of this against the basic backdrop of international groups calling for various forms of moratoriums on the outflow.

As for Haiti’s stance on its own children/it’s own citizens? This, by way of the U.S. Department of Children and Families Secretary provides a snapshot in time by way of example:

Said Department of Children & Families Secretary George Sheldon, who has been meeting with state and federal authorities: “I don’t think the Haitian government, at this point, is wanting to give up their children.”

I know, I know. ‘Astounding’ isn’t it? A country actually unwilling to give up their children. Perhaps even upset that other countries’ citizens would be trying to make off with kids, (some of whom were clearly NOT in an adoption process) in the wake of a natural disaster. Simply ‘Astounding!’ I mean whoever would have imagined such a thing? [Yes folks, this paragraph is pure contemptuous sarcasm.]

Next time there’s flooding along the Mississippi should the United States likewise, welcome other nations looting of our child welfare system, whether parental consent  to relinquishment and state approval had been given or not?

Somehow I just don’t see that as a marketable project anytime soon.

Yet this basic empathy, this shoe on the other foot, seems simply beyond the comprehension of many.

Part 3: The Article I’m using as my framework for this series

Obviously, this unfolding human rights disaster is far beyond the scope of any one post I could possibly make, so I’m going to attempt to cut down the size by building the rest of this series primarily around the framework of a single article. This will hopefully provide at least a basic structure, and help get an overview written.

I’ll add in a vast number of links by way of supporting evidence and for further reading, but I’m going to try to stick to referencing aspects of the basic structure of this article, Haiti earthquake: charities warn against rush to speed adoptions, from Friday evening.

The heart of the series then, can be cut to two lines representative of broader themes I want to elaborate upon:

Countries including France and Spain have streamlined the process in the hope of getting young people to safety as soon as possible.

But Unicef and other welfare groups, led by British charities, have warned orphans risked being separated from their families and the well-meaning moves by Westerners could be considered “abuse”.

The crux of the problem lies in the way the international receiving countries are cutting away restraints and ignoring requirements of Haitian finalizations/approvals. Gutting such protections is a tactic a wide variety of NGOs have warned against repeatedly in the wake of wars and natural disasters. Time and again, in the aftermath of such raw child-grabs, evidence of children taken without consent have surfaced.

Time and again families demanding their children back have been ignored. Therein lies the genuine heart of injustice.

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Forward to Part 4: Kids not in an adoption process being exported, bullies and bribes

or Back to the Introduction/table of contents

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