On the one hand, I can appreciate the fear that nefarious people will spirit away Haitian children for wicked ends. On the other hand, I doubt this class of people includes Baptists from Idaho. And there is the sticky question of what constitutes an orphan in Haiti, where parents and other relatives routinely hand over their children to such places. People who want to adopt these abandoned children then have to submit to the cumbersome bureaucratic process of waiting on the Haitian government to track down the very people who abandoned the children in order to make certain that they really meant it.
There is, of course, the fear that children separated from their relatives in the earthquake and who wind up at an orphanage will be wrongly considered potential adoptees, and that do-gooder types sweeping into the country with little local knowledge will do more harm than good. Still, it’s a bit odd to see an attempt at the rule of law on the part of the notoriously inept and corrupt Haitian government as it holds these church members in prison, trying to decide their fate. In countries like Haiti, “trying to decide your fate” often means: “that’ll be as much cash as you can spare, in American dollars, please.”
Whether or not there’s a payoff, it seems sensible to let these folks go with a warning, and get back to the business of prosecuting real criminals.
The New York Times hosts a debate by the experts on this subject.
And CNN reports from the perspective of Haitian parents who willingly gave away their children to the Baptist missionaries.