Would you adopt a Haitian orphan? Do they really need us?

Before the quake, Haiti had about 380,000 children in orphanages and now the U.S. State Department is estimating there could be tens of thousands more children left without parents.

From MTV News:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says:

“One area we are urgently focused on is the plight of Haitian orphans,” she said of the thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of children who were left without parents after the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck last Tuesday.

” ‘We will also be doing everything we can to unite the many children and families that have been separated in the aftermath of the earthquake and to do all that we can to expedite the travel of children who were in the line for adoption who have a legal, permanent home [or] guardianship waiting for them. We will not let red tape stand in the way of helping those in need.’ ”

“According to The New York Times, that process was already under way, as a group of 53 Haitian orphans touched down in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, the first of what is expected to be a large wave of children who will arrive in the U.S. after the country loosened its policy on visa requirements to expedite the adoption of parentless Haitian children by American families. It normally takes up to three years to adopt a child from Haiti.”

According to a Canadian Web site France will immediately take in 276 children from quake-hit Haiti who had been matched with French parents for adoption, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Wednesday.

While researching for this story I found another site from a children’s organization in Haiti saying that the situation is not as dire as the State Department is thinking and believes they will have far fewer children to place.

Here’s what SOS Children’s Villages reports on its Web site:

“Despite making a public statement discouraging people from trying to adopt earthquake orphans We have been inundated with offers from around the world from well meaning couples wanting to know how to set about adopting. Please could we make the following points very clearly:

  • Despite exaggeration in the media by people who wish to make a dramatic story, the actual number of children orphaned by the earthquake is likely to be 5-10,000, based simply on the experience of other major disasters. After the tsunami reports of 1.5 m orphans from the same sources turned out to be quite false, with the final figure of about 5,400. There were similar ratios of overall fatality to number of orphans created in each country.
  • There are hundreds of thousands of children in need of immediate help but most will have some traceable family somewhere. These children will need schools, homes and so on and longer term donations are needed to support them.
  • Of the 5-10,000 orphans typically, with support from family strengthening programmes such as those we already run in Haiti, 80-90 % would have family whom they know in some position to care for them. This leaves perhaps 1000 newly orphaned children aged 0-18 from the earthquake the older of whom with have deep linguistic and cultural routes and would have a difficult time adapting to competitive Western schooling etc. We expect to end up with many of these older  children, in the usual pattern of events. Perhaps 50 babies orphaned by the earthquake may be suitable for adoption whereas many children already orphaned were already in the process of adoption.
  • The total number of fatalities from the earthquake is likely to exceed 200,000 which is 2% of the population of Haiti, with a heavy concentration in poor urban areas. The current number of orphaned and abandoned children in Haiti is about 380,000 of whom more than 2% have probably died in the disaster. There are therefore probably fewer actual orphans in Haiti as a result of this disaster, although the number is still horrific and the conditions of they and other children have deteriorated sharply.
  • Children who have just been orphaned by the earthquake will not have been properly assessed with families traced etc until at least 18 months time, given the state of records and so on in Haiti.
  • Many thousands of couples worldwide have stated an interest in adopting an earthquake orphan. There is a huge mismatch between offer and actually need.”
  • I’m not sure what to make of the differential in numbers. I guess we will have a much better idea as the rescuers are able to match children up with their families. If there is a need, would you adopt an orphan from the Haitian earthquake? What would it mean to the children we already have?

    242 comments Add your comment

    Cammi317

    January 21st, 2010
    11:42 am

    I’ve been pondering that very question. It’s just me and my daughter and we have the space, I just don’t know if I have the time to make such a commitment.

    FCM

    January 21st, 2010
    11:55 am

    @Cammi as a single Mom of 2 I can tell you it is difficult. Much more so than my friends who are single parent to 1. While we realize more kids does mean more difficult, single parents do not have that partner to run interferance or to help with the other child under multiple tasks. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. It just means be very careful and prayerful.

    I would take on a dozen if I could. I know I cannot — financially, emotionally, or economically. Plus I hate to admit it but I am getting older! I think the ex-BF said it best “Honey it is not that your heart doesn’t have the room for it, it your being doesn’t.” (Granted we were discussing whether we wanted to get married and have mutual children).

    Yes, the children of Haiti do need just like all children. I think perhaps instead of the IVF thing, those that want to be parents (and can afford it in psychological, emotional, time, and economic terms) and aren’t should consider this option.

    Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

    January 21st, 2010
    12:00 pm

    I literally asked Michael last night about adopting. I’m wondering if we’re being called to this. However, after reading the SOS information I’m not quite sure what to think.

    Erin Wallace

    January 21st, 2010
    12:09 pm

    i’ve wanted to adopt for years. How are these “families” of orphaned children going to care for themselves, let alone these children. I have a loving home, great marriage, and great job. We are very cabable and would love nothing more than to adopt a child and allow them to have the life they deserve! Remove some of the red tape to make it easier for us to help these children now when they really need it.

    FCM

    January 21st, 2010
    12:16 pm

    Oh and there was a story on today of a newborn who had been buried in the rubble for a week. She was found ALIVE and reunited with her Mom! Such a happy thing.

    Julia

    January 21st, 2010
    12:17 pm

    If I had the room and they money I would bring home every one of them :)

    Lori

    January 21st, 2010
    12:19 pm

    I’m surprised by the SOS stance. Their job – sole mission – is to help find adoptive homes for children. Even if they think this is over-estimated, they should encourage adoption. Plus, the numbers they’re disputing are the NEW orphans. What, the SOS doesn’t care about the “other” 380,000 orphans?

    Something’s going on with the SOS and their stance. Just seems wrong and counter productive.

    Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

    January 21st, 2010
    12:20 pm

    I don’t know what to make it of it — it struck me very odd.

    Julia

    January 21st, 2010
    12:20 pm

    FCM, did you see the lil guy that was pulled out and he raised his arms to the sky.. I bawled when I saw that one

    JATL

    January 21st, 2010
    12:22 pm

    Personally we cannot take on any more children from anywhere, but I really urge anyone wanting to adopt or have a baby who can’t to please look into this! However there are unfortunately problems for some. It’s ugly to say, but there are families who may consider this but won’t because extended (but still very important) family would not welcome a black child. One would hope that attitude would change in such dire circumstances, but it would be awful if it didn’t. I hope for most this isn’t the case and many parents and children can find loving and well-provided for homes where they’ll all have good lives.

    CDD

    January 21st, 2010
    12:27 pm

    I don’t think I’ll ever adopt a child (of course never say never,) but with 4 children under 10 yrs. old right now, I know I couldn’t do it at this point in time. Not only would adopting a child entail more of the usual kid-stuff kinda work, but a child from another country – you’d need to spend additional time to integrate him or her into a different culture. Not if they’re older anyway. My husband doesn’t even want me to adopt a dog right now because he knows that even though I’m the one who wants one and would be the one taking care of it, I really just don’t have the time or energy. I have thought about fostering a child later on after my kids are older, but I’d still need to pray a lot about that too.

    Tiger needs me on his PR team

    January 21st, 2010
    12:28 pm

    @Theresa and the rest…..when you think about adopting, in your mind’s eye do you see an infant, or would you adopt an 8 year old too?

    thepikey

    January 21st, 2010
    12:31 pm

    Hello, love the blog. Just something to think about, and I know that these children need help, but there is a lot of baggage coming with these kids. Aside from the cultural and language barriers one would face, the psychological damages from living through this type of hell could be devastating. I just hope some of these families who are trying to take in these kids know what they are getting into and that these children won’t end up in the system or worse once the reality sets in.

    CDD

    January 21st, 2010
    12:31 pm

    Meant to say you would spend more time trying to get them used to American culture if they “were older.”

    I know of a couple that was planning on trying to adopt two Haitian children before the earthquake happened and now it seems that the adoption has been stalled even more because of that. They do know both children made it alive. I wonder what will happen to the kids already placed with families but haven’t been able to go.

    Julia

    January 21st, 2010
    12:34 pm

    I would adopt what ever God led me to adopt :)… There is a girl at church she has 3 and the youngest lil guy is just too stinkin cute.. big brown eyes and cheeks you just want to kiss :)

    Cammi317

    January 21st, 2010
    12:37 pm

    It seems to me that SOS is more concerned with funds coming into their organization than finding homes for the orphans. @ FCM, thank you for the advice and duly noted @ thepikey, those very thoughts have been on my mind. Lots to think about.

    Jill

    January 21st, 2010
    12:39 pm

    ADOPT THESE CHILDREN! THEY NEED A GOOD HOME.

    Lori

    January 21st, 2010
    12:45 pm

    In reference to what “thepikey” posted earlier. I remember when so many people were adopting older Romanian kids awhile back. Issues started popping up where they just weren’t adapting, due to their previous lives (horrid conditions on the orphanages and all).

    These kids may have emotional baggage that you need to be prepared for.

    cmallen96

    January 21st, 2010
    12:49 pm

    I understand the need to protect the children but these children need help now, not 18 months from now. I can’t believe that living in a tent or side of a road would be better than placing them with a family that can provide them security, food, warmth and love. I am not sure why the Haitian government would make it so difficult to help the children of their country. Under their requirements, most of us wouldn’t qualify as parents. Maybe the focus now shouldn’t be about adoption but rather fostering children in an emergency situation. I would be happy to take in a child right now even if it meant in 12 months time they found their parents and I had to bring them back to Haiti. At least it would mean that the child had 12 months of their basic needs being met versus an environment of choas and uncertainty.

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AJCMOMania, BabeinNY, Meka Emanuel , Kimberly Howard, Nicole Jioner and others. Nicole Jioner said: Would you adopt a Haitian orphan? Do they really need us?: “One area we are urgently focused on is the plight of H… http://bit.ly/6DePTk [...]

    Lori

    January 21st, 2010
    12:52 pm

    @cmallen96 – they HAVE to do full checks on everybody trying to adopt. Yes, there are worse things that can happen to adopted children than living in a tent. Much worse.

    They have a responsibility to make sure (to the best of their ability) that this doesn’t happen.

    PHR

    January 21st, 2010
    12:54 pm

    I heard on the news that the judge that did all of the adoptions in Haiti was actually killed during or after the earthquake. Very sad!

    This came up after the Tsunami and I never saw any follow up stories about all of the children that were parentless that were adopted.

    Lisa

    January 21st, 2010
    12:54 pm

    I’ve been watching the news reports since this happened and I’ve been crying myself to sleep at night with visions of all those children in my head. I would love to adopt, we have 2 children of our 17 and 12 who are very sensitive to what is going on in Haiti today and my daughter actually approached me yesterday and asked if we would consider adopting. No matter what “baggage” comes along with these children, they need our help and with a lot of love and patience it would be worth it!

    Tiger needs me on his PR team

    January 21st, 2010
    1:02 pm

    @cmallen96….”I am not sure why the Haitian government would make it so difficult to help the children of their country”. If you’re looking for sense and reasoning about the Haitian gov’t, just stop, it’s futile. This is a country that has gone through 32 coups in the last 200 years. Their gov’t is not what you know to be gov’t.

    I admire anyone who decides to help out the orphans of Haiti…I just think you should really consider and understand the magnitude of it all. Lisa, you have a 12 year old daughter…would you adopt a 14 year old boy (haitian or otherwise)?

    FCM

    January 21st, 2010
    1:03 pm

    @ Julia…no didn’t see that. I get most of my news from online “print” sources or the radio. I seldom watch a tv broadcast because the kids notice that more than me “working” at the computer and the radio is just “noise” to them they little they hear it.

    cmallen96

    January 21st, 2010
    1:04 pm

    I agree that full checks have to be done and prepared to do so. I have contacted many organizations about starting the Home Study process, this is one of the steps that needs to be completed for fostering and adoption. This can take up to many months to complete, and none of them will start the process for Haiti. We are at a complete standstill!

    Christina

    January 21st, 2010
    1:07 pm

    Teresa, I too have been wondering if I am being called to adopt. One of the CNN images this week showed a young girl about my son’s age, sleeping on some kind of mat on the ground. Despite very obvious differences in race and gender, I saw my son in that little girl – his ears, lips, hands. Hit me to the core.

    Like a previous poster said, it sounds like SOS is more concerned with money coming into their organization, than with children being released from it. I know that extensive checks need to be in place for prospective adoptive parents. I know a number of couples who either have adopted, or currently are waiting. If our agencies (in the US) can review and accept/deny couples within 6-9 months (I’m talking about from first contacting an agency until you’re approved – not including the time spent waiting for a match – because if these children are waiting now, there shouldn’t be much “waiting to match” time), what could possibly make Haitian adoptions 2-3 times as long? Beaurocracy. There’s plenty of it in our system, but it seems to be even more rampant elsewhere.

    FCM

    January 21st, 2010
    1:08 pm

    @JATL do watch Modern Family? They re-aired the pilot at 8 last night. That was the one where the couple adopted a baby girl from Asia (China?). I think more and more families are starting to accept it. They should! My children were saying they didn’t like this or that and I said um HELLO! Go look at your family tree: Latino, Jewish, African – British, same gender couples, and the beat goes on…..

    Christina

    January 21st, 2010
    1:08 pm

    Sorry – Theresa – Left out the “h”

    KMM

    January 21st, 2010
    1:10 pm

    My sister is adopted from India and I always imagined having a biological and an adopted child, just like my parents. But the costs of adopting (especially an infant) have become outrageous. I know they need to do a lot of legal checks on potential parents, homestudies, etc. and I am glad that they do. But $30k for a kid is just not possible for us. I gave some thought to adopting an older child from the foster system here in the states, but experiences of friends have made me second guess that as well.

    Tiger needs me on his PR team

    January 21st, 2010
    1:12 pm

    Christina…if you want a partial answer to why the Haitian gov’t is so inefficient…google “tonton macoute” or “baby doc”. This will give you a little insight as to the turmoil this govt has gone through in the last 50 years.

    Julia

    January 21st, 2010
    1:18 pm

    Tiger :), should a woman of a young daughter date?? I am “just” throwing that question out… I have no stance on it either way….Just a different perspective :)

    Tiger needs me on his PR team

    January 21st, 2010
    1:20 pm

    You’re just trying to get me to be a rabble rouser Julia! I’m not falling for it!

    Christina

    January 21st, 2010
    1:22 pm

    Thanks, Tiger. I actually studied a little Haitian history in college (minored in French), but we did not go into so much detail. I remember Duvalier’s name, but that’s about it. And it may also be that, by the time I reached that level of French, I only absorbed half of what we were learning – and spent the rest of the time trying to keep up with the vocabulary.

    Lisa Taylor

    January 21st, 2010
    1:23 pm

    I WANT TO – Where can I find information on this matter (serious information) I have plenty of room and no children – My partner and I are already doing the paper work on foster children – but I WANT TO DO THIS!!!!

    Tiger needs me on his PR team

    January 21st, 2010
    1:26 pm

    @christina…sorry…hope i didn’t come off as “scholarly”…we all know that isn’t the case!!! ;-) It’s really sad though, because for all Haiti could offer via tourism and the like, they could really be a wealthy, stable country.

    Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

    January 21st, 2010
    1:27 pm

    Hey PHR — that SOS web site mentioned that the tsunami orphans were originally reported to be over 1 million and it wasn’t true at all. The actual number was 5400 — which is still a lot of children but not as much as 1 million.

    Tiger needs me on his PR team

    January 21st, 2010
    1:28 pm

    I coached a youth league basketball team before I had a kid..one of the 12 year olds had parents who did missionary work in Haiti. This family was amazing and they absolutely loved the people of Haiti.

    Julia

    January 21st, 2010
    1:30 pm

    Tiger you love me :)

    Tiger needs me on his PR team

    January 21st, 2010
    1:33 pm

    julia….what can I say, I have a soft spot in my heart for trouble makers!

    Julia

    January 21st, 2010
    1:36 pm

    Esp ones that laugh when doing it huh? :)

    Tiger needs me on his PR team

    January 21st, 2010
    1:38 pm

    No…I used to really get mad at all the women who laughed at me when “doing it”…….my wife was the first one who didn’t…so I married her. :-)

    oneofeach4me

    January 21st, 2010
    1:38 pm

    I cannot watch TV, it’s just too graphic in nature to me. I do read the stories online though; I don’t want to be ignorant to what’s going on outside of my world.

    That being said though, I just don’t think I could adopt. Some people are called to do this kind of thing. I personally am not. I give so much of myself to everyone around me that if I brought another kid into my situation, especially one that would need special care emotionally and psychologically I would probably have a mental breakdown. I remember when one of my friends told me when I was pregnant with my 2nd kid that going from one to two is a BIG difference. Boy was she right!!

    I say if you can do it, financially, psychologically and emotionally please do. Children of 3rd world countries need help, and lots of it.

    Jane

    January 21st, 2010
    1:42 pm

    Don’t forget…the orphanages here (in the U.S., in Georgia) are bursting at the seams too. Those kids need love as well.

    JATL

    January 21st, 2010
    1:46 pm

    Hey FCM -it’s not me feeling that way! I have a good friend in this situation, and they were trying to adopt from China, and it’s almost closed at this point. Guatamala is also closed to adoption now. Her extended family made it clear that “one of those” would be ok, but not black. I do not want to adopt any children, but if I did, I would LOVE to take a Haitian orphan, but I’m in the same situation as far as extended family goes. It would cause HUGE issues, and that isn’t good for anyone. It’s hard for me to believe that people can still feel that way in 2010 about a little child no less, but it prevails.

    I do watch “Modern Family” religiously! It’s one of my favorite shows!

    Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

    January 21st, 2010
    1:47 pm

    No this in interesting on the SOS Web site — they are looking for sponsors for children — it looks like you set up an account and then they can pull money from that account to care for a specific child — so maybe that would be an option for some families — I personally have no idea how reputable this SOS charity is so before you do anything please check out the charity thoroughly —- What’s nice about this is it’s less commitment than actually bringing a child into your home but can make a huge difference to a child there —- here’s what the site said about sponsoring a child

    Sponsor an Earthquake Orphan
    Haiti boy

    As in previous emergencies following the 2010 Haitian earthquake we at SOS Children are appealing for emergency relief sponsors. These sponsors will help us provide safety and shelter for children short term and help with the longer term needs of any earthquake orphans. Children who have lost their families need support long after the TV cameras have gone home, and already hundreds of people have approached us to become Emergency relief sponsors.

    The way that emergency relief sponsorships work is:

    1. Sponsors fill in the online sponsorship form and set up a Direct Debit with “emergency relief sponsor” in the instructions field
    2. Sponsors remain free to cancel at any time
    3. The first twelve months of payments are used for our Haiti Emergency relief programmes including care of children whilst we trace families
    4. Sponsors will receive an update on progress with rebuilding lives in Haiti
    5. After the initial twelve months of payments the sponsorship changes into a sponsorship for a child or village in Haiti at which point the sponsor will get a welcome pack with details of their sponsorship/sponsored child
    6. We guarantee that 100% of all sponsorship money will be sent from the UK without deduction and either used in Haiti or, for the emergency relief period, may be spent in the Dominican Republic on goods for transport to Haiti.

    Before this crisis there were more than 800 child sponsorships needed in Haiti. Haiti was already very poor (with 78% of the population living on less than $2 a day), still rebuilding after the 2008 hurricane season and with 7000 people a year dying from HIV-AIDS. If you wish to sponsor one of the children already needing support pre earthquake just write “sponsor in Haiti” in the instruction box. Short term problems with administration in Santo mean we may well allocate you a child in Cap Haitien.

    RM

    January 21st, 2010
    1:47 pm

    This blog/story is simply disgusting. How dare you try to take away the importance of adoption especially at a time where it is truly need! If there is a family willing to help one of these unfortunate children I think that they should do so without these negative comments. It is difficult for anyone to adapt to a new environment but that happens with time and these children are no different. We all have cultural roots but that does not define us or make us incapable of adapting! YOU PEOPLE HAVE SOME NERVE!!! THESE ARE INNOCENT LIVES REGARDLESS OF WHAT THE ACTUAL NUMBER IS.

    JJ

    January 21st, 2010
    1:48 pm

    I thought about it, but I’ve already raised one child by myself, and at 50, I’m not really looking to start all over again. It’s JJ time now. Yes that’s selfish, but I raised a child and put her first. Now it’s time for me.

    Lori

    January 21st, 2010
    1:52 pm

    RM – what’s your issue? We’re being compassionate and realistic at the same time. How many are you adopting?

    Tiger needs me on his PR team

    January 21st, 2010
    1:54 pm

    @RM…the actual questions posed to answer were…

    “If there is a need, would you adopt an orphan from the Haitian earthquake? What would it mean to the children we already have?”

    I don’t think anyone here has implied or overtly stated that anyone should not adopt. Quite the contrary, I think for those would have given their reasons why they would not adopt have expressed nothing but respect and admiration for those who would consider it.