Friday, January 22, 2010

What To Do with Some of Haiti's Orphans: International Foster Care

I'm watching CNN and they're doing a segment on Haitian orphans.  The issue is that there are a lot of orphans with a lot of well-meaning westerners, in this case Americans, who want to adopt them.  Wolf Blitzer cautions that some of these "orphans" have parents who may be looking for them now or later. So, adoption, for those orphans whose paperwork had not started or were not completed, is not an option.   Soledad O'Brien is having none of it.  She launches into an intellectually and emotionally compelling argument this is not the time to drag one's feet and be bureaucratic because a lot of these kids are dying without a moment to lose.  She concludes her argument with comment that there has to be a middle ground between leaving these kids to die in Haiti and taking them to the United States and elsewhere for permanent adoption.  I think there is a middle ground.
The middle ground should be international foster care.  These kids should be distributed among the best foster care systems (and least burdened ones) in the United States (and maybe elsewhere).  Ms. O'Brien is right, it seems to me, that we should not leave these kids to die while we figure out if they have parents and where those parents are.  On the other hand, wholesale adoption of Haitian kids is certainly politically problematic.  You're already hearing aid organizations calling for the halt to adoptions.

Foster care, as in the U.S., is a way station and a temporizing position.  As a foster parent, I'll be the first to admit that the foster system is not perfect.  But it is certainly better in almost all instances than the alternative.  In this case, where the choice is between life and death, foster care seems like a no-brainer. So Ms. O'Brien, here is your new mission, should you choose to accept it.

1 comment:

  1. I just read your article on CNN and although it brought me to tears yet again over the situation in Haiti, I was enraged as well. It is sickening for the news media to make judgements about people and situations that they cannot even imagine how it must be. I, too would become a "looter" in order to feed and clothe my children. These insensitive characterizations are just as bad as the reporting.