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.


  1. Tari

    UNICEF has finally shown up in Haiti and apparently the Hatian government is listening to them. And UNICEF is nothing if not virulently anti-adoption.

    Gee, who could expect such things from the UN?

  2. Lenise

    The whole situation is really sad. I have to give them props for being willing to take action, but it doesn’t sound like they did their homework. Like you, I am sure they had nothing but the best intentions. All the same, I think this is a case of ignorance compounded by arrogance, and American arrogance abroad doesn’t often go unpunished (particularly when the UN is around!)

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