Save The Children’s Statement on Adoption

23 01 2010

Save the Children Statement on Adoption in Haiti

The current situation in the earthquake-affected areas of Haiti places many children at risk and without adequate care.  A large number of children may be separated from their parents or extended families due to death, injury or the sheer chaos created by the disaster.

These children are at risk of malnutrition and disease, trafficking, sexual exploitation and serious emotional distress. Save the Children has accepted the United Nation’s request to coordinate efforts to reunite separated children, and we are working alongside other international aid organizations, local organizations and the government of Haiti to assess the status and needs of children without parental care in centers and institutions, and to identify and register children separated from their families so they can be reunified.

Save the Children has received many well-intentioned calls from people who wish to help the children of Haiti by evacuating them to foster and adoptive homes in other countries.  While we realize this is a natural instinct, long experience tells us that it is almost always in the best interests of a child to remain with their relatives and extended family, when possible.  Haiti’s infrastructure has been severely damaged by the disaster, and with it the systems to ensure that children are correctly identified as orphans. The possibility of a child being mistakenly labeled as an orphan during this time is incredibly high.

The international adoptions of children from Haiti whose full legal documents were completed prior to the earthquake should certainly go forward, so those children who had already been clearly identified as orphans before the disaster can be transported to their new homes.  But we ask that no new adoption procedures of children affected by the earthquake begin until every child has been given the best possible chance of being reunited with his or her family.  In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, extreme caution must be used and time taken to carefully verify the situation of children. Only once the family tracing effort has been exhausted and it is determined that children cannot be reunited, and after proper screening, should international adoption be considered.

Save the Children is concerned about the mass movement of Haitian children to other countries, and we are asking governments and international organizations to respect Haitian law pertaining to the movements and adoption of children. Cases of children already taken for care should be screened and managed once they have arrived and suitable care options identified when the child is physically recovered.

Save the Children is committed to providing care and reunification services for unaccompanied and separated children in Haiti. We know that the best help for the majority of Haiti’s children will be to enable them to rebuild their lives surrounded by the love and support of their own families.




8 responses

23 01 2010
Connie Edgar

Why are medical exams which were lost in the quake still being being required on children who are very very near completion of their adoption. If they are so important then please make availible more physicians who can complete the process immediately not just the three listed as acceptable.

When policy and procedure fails to give you a positive outcome we must then THINK!!!!!!!! COMMON SENSE SHOULD NOT BE REGULATED OUT OF HUMAN NATURE. During this crisis we should protect the children but when amputations are being performed on the street with pocket knives maybe we should lessen the medical requirement on adoptive children. With humanitarian parole the poor adoptive parents may have to begin adoption all over again. Is this truely in the best interest of the children, nations, family and finally mankind, I THINK NOT.

23 01 2010
Cindy Stewart

I would like to echo Connie Edgar’s statement. Lets remember these are children who will likely die if all we think about is former laws and paperwork. Let us save them first. I know so many people in the world outside of the distruction would take these children and save them. Let us do so soon before it is too late

23 01 2010
Toby R.

Can anyone share the GPS Coordinates for the Quisqueya Chapel in Haiti.
Please email me at ->

23 01 2010
Paula Davis

Children are dying every day because of bureaucratic red tape. I agree that the children recently separated from family should remain in Haiti with every attempt made to reunite them with family. However, there are thousands of children who were already identified as being available for adoption prior to the earthquake. There are parents all over the US who have gone through international adoptions and/or foster parent training such as myself. These require serious background checks and balances. If people such as myself are ready and prepared to provide a home for a child who was already waiting for a home, it makes sense to provide that for them. This also allows orphanages to regroup and make room for those that have an unknown status. Children should not die because of “past experience” or “laws”. They are not numbers, they are children. There are reputable agencies with lists of reputable families. I’m tired of the government and agencies thinking with their own best interests in mind instead of the best interests of the children. How does one justify putting laws and politics over the best interests of dying children?

24 01 2010

I will have to echo most of the comments above to some degree. I doubt that national and international groups really have the “experience” in keeping so many orphans protected from sex traffickers while EFFECTIVELY searching out for their parents – all in the midst of a disaster zone. Is it somehow easier to keep track of the kids in Haiti right now than it is in the US, or other industrialized nations?

I am a teacher, and in education we always say, “What is best for the student?” Why is the same not being said about the children of Haiti right now? What is the best for the orphans???

24 01 2010
Catherine Woodward

UNICEF and Save the Children are putting protocol before the lives of the children they are SUPPOSED to be helping. The children that are being trafficked are leaving Haiti at night by boat and from rural airstrips. They are not the ones that are being processed by adoption workers through the US Embassy.

If UNICEF and STC would stop harassing legally adopted and referred children who are leaving Haiti, there would be more room to get the newly orphaned children into orphanages. These care facilities would then be able to provide the protection the chidren need from traffickers.

Getting the eligible children OUT of Haiti is the best way to provide care and protection for all of the children who have been affected by this earthquake.

24 01 2010
Laura Smith

All of Haiti’s orphans are at greater risk IN HAITI from hunger, disease, and being pressed into service as a restavek (domestic slave) than they are from any potential risks from being moved to the U.S. Save the Children needs to state honestly that they are willing to SACRIFICE CHILD’S LIVES to serve their own ideals of keeping orphans in country. The overwhelming number of orphans cannot be cared for in Haiti. About 15% of Haiti’s children (or 4% of the total population) were orphans BEFORE THE EARTHQUAKE. Move the pre-earthquake orphans out NOW so that there is some chance to handle the new orphans properly.

2 02 2010
Amanda Alexander

I truly understand the children’s safety is a concern. This is my main concern as well. If parents could not take care of these little ones before and put them in Orphanages, they certainly are not going to be able to care for them now when there is nothing left of Haiti. I would never want to take a child away from his parent, but if the parent has already given the child to a Orphanage and now the earthquake, Haiti should be thankful there are people like my husband and I who can provide a loving, clean and safe home for one of these children. Why not open up the adoption process to those of us who qualify. Its not like the process is easy. It is very in depth and detailed to make sure we are fit to take on this responsibility.

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