This week, a member of PEAR, Julia Rollings, spoke eloquently of the reasons why international relocation and adoption of Haitian children is not appropriate at this time: http://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/video/play/-/6725923/haitis-orphans/#fop
While many US citizens are moved by the sight of children in distress and feel the need to press the US government toward adoption or massive airlifts of children, we must remember that these are not our children, Haiti is not under the authority of the United States nor subject to the desires and demands of US politicians and NGOs. As the countries affected by the 2004 tsunami were afforded the right to determine how their people would rebuild their lives and their country by offering and accepting support and resources in their own countries, Haiti should be afforded the same sovereign right. It is Haiti, not the US or any other foreign government or NGO, who has the right and responsibility to care for its children and make the decisions in their children's best interests.
We recommend that the Guidelines for Alternative Care of Children published by ISS this past fall be consulted for excellent child care policies in emergency situations: http://www.crin.org/bcn/initiatives.asp. Although the guidelines have not been formally adopted, they offer excellent advice and counsel. The ISS provisions for the care of children in emergencies include the following excerpts:
"In such circumstances, the State or de facto authorities in the region concerned, the international community and all local, national, foreign and international agencies providing or intending to provide child-focused services should pay special attention:
(a) To ensure that all entities and persons involved in responding to unaccompanied or separated children are sufficiently experienced, trained, resourceful and equipped to do so in an appropriate manner;
(b) To develop, as necessary, temporary and long-term family-based care;
(c) To use residential care only as a temporary measure until family-based care can be developed;
(d) To prohibit the establishment of new residential facilities structured to provide simultaneous care to large groups of children on a permanent or long-term basis;
(e) To prevent the cross-border displacement of children, except under the circumstances described in paragraph 159 below;
(f) To make cooperation with family tracing and reintegration efforts mandatory.
Paragraph 159 states:
"Children in emergency situations should not be moved to a country other than that of their habitual residence for alternative care except temporarily for compelling health, medical or safety reasons. In that case, this should be as close as possible to their home, they should be accompanied by a parent or caregiver known to the child, and a clear return plan should be established."
PEAR supports the temporary relocation with a clear repatriation plan of Haitian children on a case by case, individual basis if, and only if, approved by the Haitian government for purposes of receiving medical attention that cannot be provided currently in Haiti. We also support policies and procedures that would reunite Haitian children with their relatives living abroad if this is determined to be in the best interest of the child. We do not support wholesale relocation of children to foreign countries on a temporary or permanent basis when care and protection can be provided in Haiti by the Haitian government and its people with assistance of funding, supplies and hands provided by foreign and international NGOs and governments.
Adoption is not an emergency procedure. Airlifting children after a crisis to a different culture is not in the best interest of the children. It was not considered in the 2004 tsunami, so why has this become a daily crusade for local groups, churches, NGOs and government officials?
The executive branch of the US government has spoken clearly through DOS and USCIS that it is best to reunify the family. This position is clearly preferred and supported by numerous national and international child welfare organizations. We call on the legislative branch to support that decision and place their focus on the exploration of ways in which the US can respond to the needs of the Haitian people. This includes providing legal, medical and therapeutic assistance to the children who have been granted humanitarian parole to the US. We also call on members of Congress to act with caution and responsibility and avoid hastily passing undebated sweeping global child welfare reform called Family For Orphans Act (FFOA) during this Haiti crisis.
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.