News / Americas

US Lawmakers Call for Legislation to Promote Adoptions of Haitian Orphans

Some relief organizations oppose adoption, saying some children who appear to be orphaned might simply have been separated from their families

Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana is leading a bipartisan group of about 40 U.S. lawmakers to push for legislation that would streamline procedures for American families eager to adopt Haitian orphans.  But some relief organizations have called for an end to adoptions of Haitian children, saying that in the midst of the chaos there, some children who appear to be orphaned might simply have been separated from their families. 

Senator Landrieu told reporters at a news conference that even before Haiti's devastating earthquake, the United Nations said the country had 380,000 orphans.  She said 900 of those children were in the process of being adopted by U.S. families when the quake hit.  And adoptive parents and orphans often had to wait years for the process to be completed.

Landrieu says that now, there probably are two-to-three times more orphans in Haiti, and that a more efficient adoption system is desperately needed.

"Just like our government is trying to work with the Haitian government to rebuild better, to rebuild stronger buildings, better infrastructure, we want to work on a better child care policy, a better orphan policy than was present before this earthquake," Landrieu said. 

Republican Senator Christopher Bond of Missouri agrees that orphaned children in Haiti cannot afford to wait until government offices there are rebuilt and re-staffed.

"It is clear that the relief and rebuild efforts to help our friends in Haiti put the pieces of their lives back together will take years," Bond said. "But the littlest and most vulnerable victims of the tragedy in Haiti are orphan children, and they cannot wait for help."

Landrieu, Bond and several other senators are supporting the Families for Orphans Act, and are trying to get it onto the Senate floor quickly.  The bill would establish a separate office in the State Department to handle adoption issues, similar to the office that handles human trafficking. 

Some Haitian officials and spokesmen for international relief organizations have expressed concern that Haitian children who are orphaned or separated from their families face a growing threat from child traffickers who might smuggle them into the neighboring Dominican Republic.  They also fear that some relief agencies might have flown earthquake orphans out of the country before efforts to find their families have been exhausted.

Groups including Save the Children and World Vision have called for a suspension of new adoptions from Haiti until every child has been given the chance to be reunited with his or her family.

Senator Landrieu and other lawmakers agree that the first priority should be to reunite children with their families in Haiti and those children should be protected from human traffickers.

But Landrieu strongly disagrees with appeals to suspend the adoptions.

"We need to be accelerating the process of child protection and adoption, even if it is temporary, with extraordinary measures, not stopping it," Landrieu said. "And I am going to challenge those organizations every step of the way.  This is the time to step up and say, 'I want to adopt.'  This is the time to try to save the lives of children."

Landrieu agrees that appropriate legal safeguards should be in place to identify orphans.  But she adds that orphans belong in families as soon as possible, not in institutions or left alone on Haiti's devastated streets. 

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Scores Killed in Western Mexico Gunfight

Officials say almost every person killed in Michoacan state shootout was a suspected gang member
More

Latest US-Cuban Talks Ends in Washington

Both sides cite progress on restoring diplomatic ties, but no final agreement reached
More

Tutu Lends Support to Age Campaign

Help Age International has launched Action 2015 campaign
More

Colombia Kills 18 FARC Rebels

The bombing raid took place in the Cauca region of western Colombia
More

Lawmakers Question Normalization Effort With Cuba

On eve of next round of US-Cuba talks, Senator Bob Menendez calls engagement 'one-sided'
More

Chinese Premier Visits South America

Brazil is the first stop on Chinese premier Li’s tour of Latin America
More