Haiti Adoptions Face Increased Scrutiny

The Haitian government has placed a moratorium on all departures of adopted children from the country, saying that a more thorough examination of paperwork is necessary before allowing them to leave.

In an announcement made on Tuesday, the government said that it now must give approval for every child's departure from the country, including those granted "humanitarian parole" by the U.S. government to expedite their visas.

Officials cited concerns that children being taken out of the country too quickly may be victims of trafficking or may have relatives still alive in Haiti that have not yet been identified.

"There is evidence that children have been removed from Haiti with no due process at all," Diana Boni, Haiti adoption coordinator for Kentucky Adoption Services, told the Wall Street Journal. "The Haitian government in the past has looked over the paperwork of each child leaving the country with adoptive parents."

Relief organizations have estimated that tens of thousands of children were orphaned during the Jan. 12 earthquake, which devastated the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince and left nearly 150,000 dead. Prior to the earthquake, there were approximately 380,000 orphans in the country, according to Unicef.

Meanwhile, aid agencies have given special attention to children injured by the tragedy as well as those waiting for their departure to new families.

Antonine St. Quitte Dimanche works daily to provide meals to children at a clinic supported by Action By Churches Together (ACT) Alliance.

Dimanche serves around 15 to 20 children and their mothers everyday with enriched milk, spinach, beans and rice, giving the most severely malnourished a concoction called plumpy nuts - a specially formulated paste full of essential vitamins and minerals.

In the midst of her work, Dimanche says that she fears for the future of the children.

"There are so many children now without parents and those whose parents survived now have no means of earning a living," she told ACT Alliance.

Also noting child care as a priority in the Haitian tragedy was the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who said on Wednesday that churches must play a key role in protecting children from abuse and violence including trafficking and abduction.

Speaking at a panel discussion at New York's Desmond Tutu Center, Williams said that Christians treasure children and the world's "most vulnerable" because they treasure humanity, just as God treasures humanity.

 "When we approach children we should be concerned not only about protection … but about growth, active involvement that opens the door for them to grow, and therefore, humanity," he said, according to Episcopal News Service.

Following the panel, Williams had a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon where he discussed global issues such as Haiti and Sudan.

The archbishop offered his "profound condolences" to Moon for the loss of U.N. staff in the Haiti earthquake and conveyed his "deep appreciation and admiration" for the work of the U.N. in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News