Adoption Laws in Haiti

Strict regulations have been placed upon international adoptions of Haitian children post-earthquake. Prospective adoptive parents who are mid-process complain that these laws most affect children who are truly orphaned, with both parents deceased, or orphaned by abandonment (“Abandonment” is a common phrase attached to current adoptions in Haiti that is almost absurd. “Abandonment” implies choice. It hardly seems like the parents leaving their baby at a hospital door are making the choice to do so. There comes a time in abject poverty when one is stripped of such luxuries as choice and opportunity.).

The earthquake opened up an unfortunate Pandora’s box of seedy adoption agencies and do-gooders wanting to “save” the “heathen” children. For this reason alone, restrictions need to be in place to protect families from unnecessary separations.

Furthermore, many Americans erroneously have their eye on Haiti as a hotbed of pagan and satanic activity. Adoption laws need to protect children from entering families whose adoption goals include spiritual salvation and cultural annihilation (note that my criticism is not of raising spiritual children; it is of adopting a child with the assumption that the child is a heathen, and therefore, in the eyes of many adopting families, inherently bad and evil. ).

On the other hand, what of the Haitian parents who genuinely have no recourse but to place their child for adoption? What of the desperate parents who, realistically, are not expecting relief any time soon and know that dropping their child off at a hospital or an orphanage will at least ensure another meal? Ideally, we would get to the root of the problem and help destitute parents recover the means to care for their children.

But this is not happening in Haiti, certainly not quickly enough to provide food and medical care for  suffering children. The reality is that many parents are probably staring at either placing their child for adoption, or death, with few options in between.  When this is the case, stringent adoption laws could impede a swift union with a new family, thus forcing  delays in care, nutrition, healthcare, and attachment.

Do the unethical adoption practices at the hands of foreign adopters and agencies that have plagued Haiti thus far, though, warrant such stringency? Do long-term solutions that place the children and parents in Haiti in more immediate short-term severity make sense instead?

I believe a process, similar to a typical American security check in its scope, whereby Haitian governmental and adoption agencies may screen potential adoptive parents and foreign adoption agencies for their intentions, needs to be implemented. With that, religious motivations must be eliminated as a motivation to adopt. It is entirely possible that this can only be done if potential adoptive parents prove an inability to conceive biological children and/or are adopting a first child, or if potential adoptive parents meet with and are approved by first families.

Although such restrictions would prove extreme and certainly would reduce the pool of adopting parents, it may be a necessary first step in order to quickly reign-in unethical and religiously motivated adoptions. Without measures such as these, Haiti might open itself up to even greater levels of corruption and cultural annihilation, all of it affecting the children first.

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