Adoptees of color speak out against international adoption of Haitian children

Following the earthquake in Haiti some people have been pushing for adoption of Haitian children by folks in the global north. This includes Penny Young Nance, CEO of the anti-choice, anti-feminist organization Concerned Women for America.
A group called the Adoptees of Color Roundtable has issued a Statement on Haiti written from the perspective of a group of adoptees of color who oppose international adoption of Haitian children. Here’s an excerpt:

For more than fifty years “orphaned children” have been shipped from areas of war, natural disasters, and poverty to supposedly better lives in Europe and North America. Our adoptions from Vietnam, South Korea, Guatemala and many other countries are no different from what is happening to the children of Haiti today. Like us, these “disaster orphans” will grow into adulthood and begin to grasp the magnitude of the abuse, fraud, negligence, suffering, and deprivation of human rights involved in their displacements.
We uphold that Haitian children have a right to a family and a history that is their own and that Haitians themselves have a right to determine what happens to their own children. We resist the racist, colonialist mentality that positions the Western nuclear family as superior to other conceptions of family, and we seek to challenge those who abuse the phrase “Every child deserves a family” to rethink how this phrase is used to justify the removal of children from Haiti for the fulfillment of their own needs and desires. Western and Northern desire for ownership of Haitian children directly contributes to the destruction of existing family and community structures in Haiti. This individualistic desire is supported by the historical and global anti-African sentiment which negates the validity of black mothers and fathers and condones the separation of black children from their families, cultures, and countries of origin.

The statement, which is quickly making its way around the internet, is a powerful counterpoint to rhetoric coming from organizations like CWA. It’s also a very clear overview of the issue – I know I learned a lot. I definitely recommend giving the whole statement a read.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

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  • Lilith Luffles

    For some reason, this strikes a chord with me. My cousin adopted two kids from South Korea, and they are all very happy right now (though one is still a baby.) I get the idea that rescuing a child from a bad situation seems ‘paternalistic,’ but even if white children get adopted in the U.S., aren’t adopters rescuing the child and putting them in a family they think is best for them? Why are Haitian or other children different? Why do children have to grow up in their country of origin? What would they say to adopted children that are actually HAPPY to have been adopted by who they now call their parents?

  • LivingOutLoud

    I completely agree with the posting. I am glad someone has finally spoken out and said something.

  • daveNYC

    “Western and Northern desire for ownership of Haitian children directly contributes to the destruction of existing family and community structures in Haiti.”
    You know, I think a 7.0 earthquake already did a pretty good job of destroying family and community. I find the adoption of children who have a family, but it happens to be poor (for a definition of poor that would cause our heads to explode), to be dubious. However, with over 170k dead, I suspect that there is a bumper crop of orphans available for adoption. And I don’t think there will be a lot of competition from the locals.

  • LivingOutLoud

    I think part of the point is, how often to people from other countries come to America to adopt children, even though our foster care system is overflowing? I would guess that the statistic is very, very low. Why would that be?
    What happens when you adopt a child from another country, don’t teach them their language, customs, traditions, etc., and then he or she returns to that country for a visit, to live, whatever. How frustrating to not even be able to speak in the language that connects you to your history and heritage. It’s cruel and totally screwed up in my opinion. I think people have good intentions a lot of the time without thinking about the implications for that child; regardless of whether or not the adoptees provide a happy home. Unless they keep that child connected to it’s place of birth, I think it’s a disservice.
    Adopting a baby girl from China and naming her Susie and parading her around your church like your some kind of saint is horrific in my minds.
    I know this post will offend some people, but it’s a topic I feel strongly about, but never express my opinion on because it is such a taboo issue.
    I think the following quote from the statement about sums it up for me:
    “Every child deserves a family” to rethink how this phrase is used to justify the removal of children from Haiti for the fulfillment of their own needs and desires.

  • NapoleonInRags

    Dear Feministing,
    Thanks for devoting this space to essentialist identity politics. I’m glad to know that white folks should only adopt white kids. This will undoubtedly solve the problem. /sarcasm
    I’m sure that some of my friends, people of color raised by one or two white parents will be happy to know that they don’t have a ‘real’ family.
    So if every child ‘deserves’ a parent who looks like them, what about a girl adopted by gay fathers? The son of lesbians?
    More importantly, to take this down from the level of theoretical hand-wringing to pragmatics – the alternative in this situation is not adoption by Haitian families. The alternative is no family at all. These are orphans in a poverty ravaged disaster zone.

  • Jjuliaava

    Haitians live in North America and Europe. Who is to say an adoptive family in Canada is not Haitian? I think the idea is that whites should not adopt blacks? I don’t understand. Haiti is the most impoverished country in the Western hemisphere since long before an earthquake. Doesn’t it break your heart to see a child without a family all alone!!?? I get it that there are evil people who are abusive, but are all north americans abusive to their children? I hope not.

  • nattles_thing

    I haven’t been paying much attention to to the movement to push adoption of Haitian children — I’m not adopting anyone anytime soon or ever — so while it could be terribly paternalistic and all that I still don’t think I agree with this.
    Western and Northern desire for ownership of Haitian children
    It’s the “ownership” line that sticks out to me. I bet there are a lot of adopted kids and families with adopted kids who would get awfully upset about that, and with good reason.
    As daveNYC said, there are 170k people dead, which does mean there there are likely a whole lot of orphans in a country that does not have the resources to support them, and frankly wasn’t doing a great job of supporting its orphans even before the earthquake hit.
    You can avoid adopting a Haitian orphan because you dislike the racial paternalism associated with the way our country deals with their country or whatever, but I doubt that’s going to make much difference to the orphan.


    Absolutely, kids who have families in Haiti should stay with their Haitian families. I find it hard to imagine anyone would argue otherwise.
    But I find it similarly hard to believe that leaving orphaned (not just no parents, but no aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc) children in an utterly devastated area is really the right solution. The right solution for some of them? Sure. The right solution for all of them? Maybe not.
    I think we should help Haiti get back on its feet (and in better shape than before the quake) so it can take care of its own people. I also think that we shouldn’t accuse people who are trying to help children who are utterly alone in this world of “abuse, fraud, negligence, suffering, and deprivation of human rights”.
    As with everything, it’s also/and, not either/or.

  • tulin

    Is everyone else missing that this statement came from the group Adoptees of Color? People that might have the actual experience of being adopted? I don’t think they are making the statement that no white person should ever adopt any person of color, but providing a different point of view that not too many people think about, and as evidenced by early comments here, people seem quite hostile towards.

  • Kathleen Hagerty

    I think that people in the States who adopt refugee children aren’t doing it out of some racist, paternalistic sense of superiority… most of them seem to do it out of sympathy and charity. My sister, who has 3 kids of her own, was actually talking about taking in a Haitian child, since almost 200 of them were brought to Pittsburgh for medical care. I don’t know if they are orphaned, but I also didn’t get the impression that their displacement is permanent.
    I don’t know… some people just want to help, and I’m sure a lot of these kids have nowhere to go since the orphanages, along with everything else, were largely destroyed.

  • tulin

    Sorry, Lilith Luffles, I didn’t mean to reply specifically to your comment; it was supposed to be a general comment.


    There are still 9 million Haitians who are still alive in Haiti – plus another million or so Haitian emigres in the large Haitian immigrant communities in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, Boston, Miami, Montreal, the Dominican Republic, Paris, ect.
    Wouldn’t it be a lot more reasonable and responsible for those Haitian orphans to be placed with Haitian families?
    It’s not like all the Haitians in the world died in the earthquake!
    I would bet that most of those Haitian “orphans” have living blood relatives – including blood relatives still alive in the greater Port au Prince metropolitan area – why ship them overseas to White families who don’t even speak Kreol (Haiti’s national language)?

  • Sloppy Sandwich

    The statement is not arguing against placing the children for adopting, they’re just saying make sure these kids aren’t rushed out of their own country before they try to find their extended families. I think it’s pretty reasonable.
    Also, “bumper crop”? Come on, man these are kids, not bushels of corn. Can you blame them for being concerned about “desire for ownership”?

  • LalaReina

    I think think this is bullshit and it’s not new. I think the vile thing is people putting their nationalistic politics over the lives of children. I’m sorry but we as PoC doing a lot of talking about white people in these matters while we sit back and don’t do a fucking thing. I applaud the people stepping up and I think it is vulgar to make a child wait and suffer until “one of their own” decides to do something. This shit is old, in this country Social workers of color have long fought transracial adoption. I have been on many a blog where Angelina Jolie or MaDonna is skewered. Know what I say? Fuck your politics making kids lives better is what matters.

  • Toongrrl

    Please tell me that the
    children aren’t taken from
    their families. Colonialism
    couldn’t get any more dis-

  • daveNYC

    Um, maybe because the Haitians in the US or in Haiti don’t want to adopt them? Do you really think that adoption agencies should scrounge up a list of all Haitian immigrants to the US (or Europe, etc) and start phoning them up to see how many orphans they want? And the reason why relatives in Haiti might not be willing to adopt should be pretty obvious.
    You’re talking about what language they’ll speak and the rest of the world is talking about a roof over their head and food in their bellies.

  • nattles_thing

    Like every country ever, Haiti had a significant number of orphans even before the Earthquake struck. I can’t imagine why they didn’t simply place those orphans with Haitian families and solve the problem entirely . . .
    Obviously, if the kids have relatives who are willing and able to take care of them, there’s no need to ship them overseas to foreign parents. But there are many things worse than living with people who don’t speak your language and have a different skin color than you, and being a child completely alone in an already-poor country that has just suffered a massive natural disaster is one of them.

  • daveNYC

    “This individualistic desire is supported by the historical and global anti-African sentiment which negates the validity of black mothers and fathers and condones the separation of black children from their families, cultures, and countries of origin.”
    The last sentence is going beyond a statement concerning the removal of children from families. It includes culture and country. Implying that the author believes that both culture and country should be taken into account, even if there is no family to be found.
    It’s black humor.

  • LN80

    An essential book on this subject is “Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoptions” by people of color who were adopted into white families in the United States. You can read reviews, here:

  • TD

    Haitian children directly contributes to the destruction of existing family and community structures in Haiti.
    How does the thriving slave trade in Haiti figure into that perspective? I mean I understand where they’re coming from, its nice to pretend that you can simply find a Haitian family which wants to adopt and has food and resources to feed another mouth, and its even nicer to pretend that most of the offers are not simply coming from the people who intend to sell the kid as a slave, or keep the kid as a slave. It’s nice to pretend that is the case, but doing so is utterly naive.

  • nikki#2

    “Wouldn’t it be a lot more reasonable and responsible for those Haitian orphans to be placed with Haitian families?”
    This comment reeks of ‘stick with your own kind’.

  • barefoot

    It seems like a lot of people may be weighing in here without reading the whole statement released by Adoptees of Color.
    “We understand that in a time of crisis there is a tendency to want to act quickly to support those considered the most vulnerable and directly affected, including children. However, we urge caution in determining how best to help. We have arrived at a time when the licenses of adoption agencies in various countries are being reviewed for the widespread practice of misrepresenting the social histories of children. There is evidence of the production of documents stating that a child is “available for adoption” based on a legal “paper” and not literal orphaning as seen in recent cases of intercountry adoption of children from Malawi, Guatemala, South Korea and China. We bear testimony to the ways in which the intercountry adoption industry has profited from and reinforced neo-liberal structural adjustment policies, aid dependency, population control policies, unsustainable development, corruption, and child trafficking.”
    This statement is not rejecting the help of North Americans out of hand and suggesting that real Haitian orphans be abandoned in Haiti, they are highlighting the very real point that “the massive destruction of buildings in Haiti that hold important records and documents” means that aid workers have no way of telling that these children really are orphans, and also have no way of updating these missing records so that families can trace each other and be reunited at a later date. They speak for themselves better than I can:
    “Removing children from Haiti without proper documentation and without proper reunification efforts is a violation of their basic human rights and leaves any family members who may be searching for them with no recourse. We insist on the absolute necessity of taking the time required to conduct a thorough search, and we support an expanded set of methods for creating these records, including recording oral histories.”
    I’m sorry, but seen in this light, the USA’s “what about the children” rhetoric _does_ ring of paternalism to me, whether it’s intended that way or no.

  • SarahMC

    I’m disturbed by all the resistance in the comments.
    Like every adoptive parent is pure in heart and everyone in the world agrees on what constitutes “a better life.”
    Maybe read this post at Racialicious too?

  • Sloppy Sandwich

    Yeah, and that statement is pretty valid, too. Africans and people of color in general have been disregarded and abused a bit for about, oh, the last 500+ years or so in case you hadn’t heard, Mr. Black Humor.
    Again, I don’t see anything in the statement saying don’t place Haitian children for adoption, they’re trying to stop people from rushing things and taking away a child’s identity when there might be a way to keep them in their own family and culture.
    I am an interracial adoptive parent. That doesn’t make me an expert on all this stuff but I know about open adoption and the adoption process. I support adoption! I think it’s a good thing, but these people have a good point, too.

  • supremepizza

    As a person of color I agree that its important to retain those ethnic relationships. On the other hand if it weren’t for the One Child Policy which results in the abandonment & infanticide of baby girls Susie wouldn’t need to be rescued.

  • supremepizza

    As a person of color I think ethnic ties are important, but as a feminist I think everyone is entitled to create their own identity. I support the right of a man to become a woman, how could I not support interracial/international adoption since ethnicity is so much more ephemeral than gender?
    As long as the child is not prevented from exploring their homeland, history & ethnicity I really don’t see a problem here.
    Free to decide your gender, free to decide your ethnicity.

  • rebekah

    people adopt children from other countries because they are trying to better the lives of those children. I don’t think that anyone can argue that children would have a better life living with an American family than they would in a Haitian orphanage. The country of Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Our country has destroyed their country. I think that people are adopting those children as a way to attempt to make up for what our government has done. I’m sure that the people who have adopted children from Haiti would be thrilled to know that they are being criticized for trying to do the right thing. Criticizing the process is a lot different than criticizing the cultural block that the American parents would put up around them. Instead of criticizing the decision to adopt these children the criticism should go to taking away their culture.


    Why are you so quick to assume that these kids don’t have relatives that are willing and able to take them in?
    Having grown up around Haitian Americans in New York City, I have some idea about how family oriented their culture is.
    Based on that, I would assume the exact opposite of what you do – that most of these “orphans” in fact have a cousin, or an older sibling, or an aunt, or a grandfather somewhere who – if anybody bothered to make an effort to contact them – would cheerfully and without complaint take that child into their home.
    The only problem is the collapse of the communications system and the destruction of public records in Port au Prince – which impedes any serious effort to contact the relatives of these children may have in other parts of Haiti and in the Haitian diaspora communities in New York, New Jersey, Boston, Miami, Montreal, the Dominican Republic and France.
    No Haitian children should be given away to foreigners until communications have been restored and the courts, government offices and public records systems have been restored in Port au Prince.
    At that time, these children should then be reunited with their relatives or (worst case scenario) be placed with Haitian families in other parts of Haiti or in the Haitian diaspora.
    It would be better for all concerned for these children who have suffered unimaginable trauma to be reunited with family members or at the very least people who share their race, language and culture – rather than being parceled out to White foreigners like they were human gift bags.

  • Lucy Gillam

    I am again adding this to the list of links for the next time someone on this community offers adoption as a no-brainer alternative to fertility science. I’m an adoptee is is very positive about adoption, but it’s funny how people forget the real ethical considerations when talking fertility science.

  • TigerLily

    This situation is different from your nieces and nephews situation because many of these orphans may not be orphans at all. Very little is being done to look for these children’s next of kin. Imagine desperately searching for your child and never finding them because your child was sent abroad? Or searching for your nieces and nephews because you want to raise them, only to find they have vanished?
    This happened after the tsunami, after the earthquake in Kashmir in 2005, and it is very likely happening now. I’m glad this issue is finally getting attention.


    I question your assumption that, in a nation of 9 million, which has over a million of it’s citizens living abroad, it is impossible to find Haitian homes for Haitian displaced children, and that these kids have to be parceled out to random White foreigners who literally do not even speak the child’s language!
    That’s a big assumption to make – an assumption that reeks of colonialism.

  • Sloppy Sandwich

    nattles, your blog, it is dead. what happened? I liked reading your risque adventures.


    This is not a question of “these children will be alone unless random White foreigners take them to America”.
    This is a question of allowing random non Haitian citizens to swoop down and engage in what New York State family law calls custodial interference without any attempt to find the relatives of these Haitian children.
    Here’s an idea – why not let the Haitian civil authorities, the UN and international relief agencies take measures to provide for the immediate needs of these displaced Haitian children in Haiti until the Haitian civil authorities are in a position to find these children’s relatives (either in Haiti or the diaspora)?
    Why the rush to ship Haitian children off into exile with random White folks who have not passed any kind of background check, and who have no legal sanction from the Haitian courts to take these children.
    It sounds like nothing more than the rawest form of human trafficking!
    Beyond that, if the situation were reversed, I’m sure you would not support letting random foreigners come into America and take White American displaced children to foreign countries with no legal sanction from American courts!


    So, letting random White foreigners, who don’t speak Kreol and might even look down on Haitians and their culture, scoop these kids up without so much as a background check, will “make these children’s lives better”?
    What’s to prevent American pedophiles from going down there and taking Haitian kids back home with them?
    That may sound extreme – until you realize that, even in normal pre-earthquake times, Haiti was a prime hunting ground for American sexual predators seeking children to defile.
    I’m sorry, but if the question is keeping these children alive and healthy that can be done in Haiti, by the Haitian government, the UN, Haitian charities, the Catholic Church and international relief agencies.
    The kids can be kept healthy and safe in secure children’s shelters in Haiti until the Haitian courts and the Haitian National Police are in a position where they can track down blood relatives to place these children with.
    But this colonialist and racist scheme to ship Haiti’s babies to random White folks overseas is all kinds of disgusting and needs to stop NOW

  • abayless

    I find myself having conflicting feelings about this.
    I agree that exploring extended family is the best option. Haitians should have the final say as to what happens to its’ orphans. Stealing these children away in the night is indeed appalling.
    However, arguing that only Haitians should be adopting these children slaps of racial exclusivity. This type of racial segregation does nothing to further race relations. Does this only apply to people of color? Should we not allow white children to be adopted by someone of another race? Does this really serve the childrens best interest?
    It’s nice that the Adoptees of Color Roundtable can sit in on the lifestyle and education that “racist, colonialist mentality” has garnered them and snub their nose at the opportunities that would be opened for some of these children. Shame on these Westerners’ willingly taking on the immense task of raising a child despite the social stigma of cross-race family units. /sarcasm
    The fact is, yes, we should do more to make sure that these children are best taken care of. Extended families and people of Haitian decent are fantastic options. However, I do not feel these should be the only options. This tragedy should not turn into a racial mud-slinging contest.

  • mamram

    I think a number of commenters here are unaware that child trafficking and “laundering” is the status quo when it comes to the business of international adoption . Right now, certain parties are exploiting this tragedy in an attempt to further deregulate what is already an industry operating on the fringes of legitimacy.
    I don’t think the purpose of this statement was to berate white people who want to help orphaned children in the poorest parts of the world, but to make people aware that there is another side to this. The “red tape” that the CWA is referring to is the process of determining whether a child is truly an orphan, a process which should be slower in the aftermath of a disaster, not faster.

  • mamram

    “The statement is not arguing against placing the children for adopting, they’re just saying make sure these kids aren’t rushed out of their own country before they try to find their extended families. I think it’s pretty reasonable.”
    I think people are missing that nuance because they haven’t bothered to read the entire statement.

  • Phenicks

    To hell with politics ok, what does a stance on abortion matters have to do with whether or not orphaned children get adopted or go back to an orphanage that was destroyed by a 7.0 manitude earthquake?
    Seriously, and just how many of these adoptees of color are black? Haitian? How many of these adoptees that want to block the adoption of these children are actively working to adopt these children themselves? How many know of Haitian families who want to adopt these children? How many plan on donating to the welfare of these children UNTIL someone they aprove of adopts them?
    We are talking about children who don’t have a high likelihood of being adopted by people in their own community for finanical and ractical reasons, many of the people in their own community no longer have homes. As for the remaining Haitain community, what have the said AGAINST the children being adopted and how many have expressed a desire to adopt them?

  • TD

    I’m disturbed by all the resistance in the comments.
    Like every adoptive parent is pure in heart and everyone in the world agrees on what constitutes “a better life.”

    We are talking about a nation which before the earthquake had widespread child slavery. I’m pretty sure that when so many children are sold into slavery by their own parents, that orphans don’t have much better prospects in the country.
    The life of many of the children is to be sold to a wealthier family where they’ll be forced to work until they’re fifteen, likely subject to significant abuse, and then cast out on the street, with all the risks that entails in Haiti.
    I’ve known a lot of different people who have had significantly divergent beliefs about what a ‘better life’ entails, but I know of none who consider that life acceptable.

  • A Fortiori

    If they are trying to suggest that those who are seeking to adopt Haitian orphans (and those agencies seeking to assist them in doing so) should exercise caution and try to make sure that the “orphans” they are adopting are not merely children who have been separated from their parents (or perhaps even children with dead parents but who have other close relatives who would be happy to take care of them), then yes, they are of course correct.
    Some of the language they use, however, seems to suggest that they are saying that Haitians should stay in Haiti with people of their own racial backgrounds. I strongly disagree with this sentiment. I think that the country and culture you grow up with should not always have to be determined by your racial background. To me, the idea that by doing this you are “depriving” a child of culture is absurd – you are merely bringing them into your own culture the way that you would with your own child. And if you adopt a child legitimately, they become your child, despite how deeply certain people would like us to believe that only your blood relation born from your heterosexual union can ever be a “real” child. And as they are your child, you have the right to bring them into your own culture.

  • A Fortiori

    The problem with your whole argument is that it essentially rides on the idea that a person’s culture does (or rather, should) depend on the culture of their biological parents. This essentially delegitimizes the adoptive parents themselves – they are not the “real” parents, and the culture and values which they try to instill with their adopted child (who is not “really” their child) are not the child’s “real” culture. Adoption becomes a farce – unless you have produced a child who is your own via a heterosexual relationship, you are not a real parent. You are just taking care of the child in place of the real parents – and it is the real parents, not the fake adopters, who should be the source of the child’s culture.
    So to take your example, naming a little Chinese girl Susie and bringing her to church (part of the culture of the adoptive parents) is wrong because they are not her real parents, and their cultural heritage is not and cannot be her cultural heritage. She should, according to you, get her culture from her “real” parents, her biological parents, from whom her real heritage comes. This idea that a person’s culture must come from their biological parents is, to be frank, deeply rooted in heterosexual privilege, and is extremely exclusionary towards anyone who doesn’t have the ability or desire to have children in this way.

  • LivingOutLoud

    You said: “Instead of criticizing the decision to adopt these children the criticism should go to taking away their culture.”
    I said: “Unless they keep that child connected to it’s place of birth, I think it’s a disservice.”
    Note the word “unless,” please. I am criticizing the cultural blockades, not just the process.
    But I don’t think that adopting children out of the goodness of your heart is that cut and dry. Just because the person who is adopting a child thinks it’s a “good” thing to do, doesn’t make it so. The people protesting outside of abortion clinics think that they’re doing a “good” thing, and many people agree, and just as many disagree. It’s all relative.
    And I am not saying that leaving children in orphanages is a better alternative, but I think that this entire process deserves a critical approach, and deserves being listened to by the people who are there, who have experienced it and who it impacts.

  • LivingOutLoud

    I agree, and I don’t think that is what the statement is saying.
    I think that the statement (at least in my mind) is partly saying that individuals from North America who are unable to have children of their own for whatever reason (or want more children) are not ENTITLED to children from Haiti just because of the circumstances. They don’t have a RIGHT to children in less fortunate countries and circumstances, just because their privilege and desires (whatever they may be) might dictate to the contrary.

  • Brianna G

    I think that if any Haitian families, preferably in Haiti but also Haitians in the US with ties to Haiti, want to adopt, they should absolutely be the first choice for placement. Best of all, they should be placed with extended family.
    But if there is no extended family who will take the child, no neighbors in their communities with space or finances, no Haitians with the resources or desire to adopt, and no one with a common cultural experience (which for many may wind up being the case), then we have to ask ourselves– is it better to create large institutions to house them, funding their care while depriving them of any family at all, or allow a non-Haitian to care for them?
    I object to many features of international adoption and will adopt as locally as I can when I do, mostly because in most domestic adoptions the biological family of the child is alive, so the child should have the chance to know their family. However, that is assuming that the child has an option to go to where they can know their family.
    Anti-international-adoption rhetoric tends to take on a few key elements:
    -The very real concern that at times children are taken away from poor but loving families, obviously something of real concern that potential adoptive parents should consider.
    -The rewriting of the child’s history and deletion of their past. I see this a lot in the adoptions of infants, but it seems unlikely in this scenario. I find it unlikely that a truly orphaned infant could have survived on their own in this carnage without being taken in already by Haitian families. These orphans are likely older children, whose names and histories cannot be so easily changed.
    -The idea that no white parent could love a non-white child as their own, and they instead want to “own” a child of another ethnicity. This is of course absurd and racist, and assumes that all the adopting parents are white.
    -The idea that a white, Western parent cannot possibly appreciate the child’s native culture. I’m sure there are cases where this is true. However, since the children for adoption are likely older and capable of sharing their own culture, and the alternative in many cases is an orphanage, NOT a loving Haitian family, I think most children would be willing to take the risk in exchange for not being institutionalized. After all– they are probably old enough to offer their own opinion in this.
    People taking on Haitian disaster victims are not going to be taking in cute Haitian babies with no health problems and a loving but impoverished family. They’re going to be taking in children with no family, or family who have decided this is the best option. They’re going to be taking in older children who survived the quake on their own. They’re going to be taking in children with potential health problems, including, I suspect, those with quake-related injuries and infections, possibly including missing limbs and post-operative infections. They’ll be taking in children who are old enough to say “I don’t want to go.” These aren’t cute babies to write your own family name all over, they are survivors of a disaster. This is NOT the same as normal international adoption and is done mostly out of charity, not as an alternative to fertility treatments.
    I would be stunned if a single actual Haitian orphan in the current environment there was consulted by this group.

  • Becca Stareyes

    Thank you for the link, Sarah. It does a good job of setting out a lot of the problems to a knee-jerk ‘rescue the babies!’ reaction, as well as offering some advice that will help make sure those Haitian kids get to people who can take care of them — finding missing parents or extended family, and continuing with interim relief efforts, and only considering adoption when family can be confirmed dead. (As well as noting all the problems one can have when adopting.)

  • Honeybee


  • TeenMommy

    It is universally hard to find homes for orphans. I question your assumption that it is not extremely difficult to find adoptive families of any kind whatsoever, therefore making it an extra hard task to place all of these children with Haitians.

  • nattles_thing

    If it wasn’t possible to find Haitian homes for Haitian orphans before the huge natural disaster greatly upped the number of Haitian orphans, it’s not going to be any easier now.
    You seem to have this idea that pretty much every orphan in Haiti is not in fact an orphan, but has parents or relatives or random do-gooder strangers who are willing to take them in and feed them. And yes, of course children in this situation should be able to reunite with their families.
    But there are also real orphans in Haiti, and children with dead parents whose extended family can’t or won’t take care of them, and there are plenty of children whose living relatives have sold them into slavery. How would you go about finding a culturally appropriate home for every displaced child? How would you find the resources to do that? You seem convinced that it’s extremely easy.

  • ScottRock

    You must have missed the part where they said
    “All adoptions from Haiti must be stopped.”

  • Mighty Ponygirl

    people adopt children from other countries because they are trying to better the lives of those children.

    That’s awfully generous.
    Often, the reason that people want to adopt overseas is because when you adopt a child from an impoverished country, it’s a) cheaper, b) less stringent about who they give the baby to, and c) there’s a double-seal on the adoption record to prevent the birth parent from finding their child in the form of trying to find their child in a completely foreign country which is both prohibitively expensive and often has a significant language barrier.
    Oh yeah, and you get to show off how totally globally conscious you are that you were able to swoop in and (affecting Edina Monsoon voice) rescue the little Romanian Baybeee darling.
    Seriously, it’s like the little Haiti Orphans are the new Livestrong bracelets.