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 VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Cubans Imagine New, More Prosperous Life Without an Old Foe

News of the historic shift in US-Cuban relations echoed quickly through the Spanish colonial plazas of Old Havana this week
More

Video Obama Faces Opposition on Cuba

Several legislative obstacles may stand in the way of normal relations with Cuba
More

US Expects January Talks With Cuba

Meeting, that was originally a periodic review of Cuba-US migration, will now include talks on restoring diplomatic relations
More

Brazil's Rousseff Pledges to Tighten Operations at Petrobras

She urges Brazilians not to lose faith in oil producer, which is mired in a corruption scandal
More

Colombia to Print Garcia Marquez Banknotes in Tribute to Writer

Currency to honor country's most celebrated writer, who died in April and who is renowned as the father of magical realism storytelling
More

US-Cuba Trade Could Grow Significantly

Analysts say US exports to Cuba could eventually hit $5.9 billion annually, while Havana's exports to the US could reach $6.7 billion
More