Haiti's orphans meet their new families

U.S. and Netherlands are the first to welcome children

There were about 50,000 orphans in Haiti before the country was decimated by last week’s earthquake, a number that has surely skyrocketed. So in an effort to bring as many parentless children to safety as possible, the U.S., Dutch and Canadian governments are fast-tracking their adoption processes. The first plane carrying orphans touched down in the Netherlands on Thursday, bringing about 106 children to their new families. About 100 more children are expected to arrive in Canada this weekend. But there are growing concerns that the expedited process could break up families and cause more harm then good. SOS Children, the world’s largest orphan charity, says work must be done to prevent “stolen children,”—children who are put up for adoption but whose parents are still alive. A spokesperson for the organization says it’s easy for families to become separated during war and natural disasters, and that the governments providing aid in Haiti should shift their concentration from inter-country adoption to tracing children back to their living family members. The Haitian adoption system as a whole has also been criticized by UNICEF and the non-governmental organization Against Child Trafficking. They call it untransparent and say children are sometimes handed to orphanages by desperate parents that don’t understand the permanence of their decision, and don’t realize their children could be taken to other countries.

Al Jazeera

National Post