If you haven’t seen it yet, Christianity Today’s interview with the U.S. State Department’s Michelle Bond is worthy reading for anyone weighing how best to care for Haiti’s orphans. Overall, the perspective Bond articulates is wise and well-balanced. She explains why adoption cannot be a primary focus immediately, why adoption isn’t the ultimate solution for a large percentage of Haiti’s orphans, and why in-country responses are so critical. Alongside these cautions, Bond also affirms inter-country adoption as a vital solution for children that cannot be matched with caring families in Haiti, as well as the potential role for the U.S. government in helping foreign governments to create safer and more efficient systems for inter-country adoption.
One phrase—offered to explain the perspective of those resistant to inter-county adoption within Haiti’s government—deserves a bit further attention. Bond describes, “Haiti has these restrictions [on inter-country adoption] to make sure they aren’t wiped clean of children by richer nations.”
This phrase, and the sentiment it describes, is worthy of much discussion. The best place t start is with empathy and an effort to understand why some feel this way. I dare say it would not be easy for many Americans if we realized that some of the children in our communities would do better with families overseas.
Still, two central facts directly counter the assumptions underlying the outlook Bond highlights. First, even if inter-country adoptions from Haiti increased significantly, the impact upon the total number of children within Haiti would be entirely negligible. While boosting adoptions could significant cut the percentage of children living on the streets or as “double orphans” in orphanages without any living relatives, Haiti would certainly not be left with a dearth of children.
More importantly, inter-country adoptions are certainly never about “wiping countries clean of children.” Rather, adoptions—rightly carried out—are about erasing the reality of thousands of children growing up outside of a loving home, living on the streets or in institutions, waking each morning without the care of mother or father. This is something we can all agree ought to be “wiped away.”