(I wonder if, on our end, anything has changed or "loosened" with our adoptive-parent-screening process to make it quicker?)
A quick rescue effort from Pittsburgh included sending a plane of aid workers, doctors, and a few politicians to gather orphans from Haiti.
Does this scenario remind anyone of the Korean Babylift of 1975?
Aid groups had said that every effort should be made to place children with relatives in Haiti, but in reading all these articles I can't tell how much of that effort really happened.
Shouldn't we stop and think: Maybe a rush to help doesn't have to mean a rush to remove.
Of course there are other things to protest about with this highly sensitive issue. Critics have complained about the media images. Photos that say without words: look at the white rescuer carrying the poor, starving, third-world black child to safety. Because of our long history of silencing with international adoption and the "savior" narrative, the images make me cringe a little.
(And, of course, I think about how no one seems hurried to adopt the many African-American children without permanent homes right here in this country. This is a crisis, too, people.)
One adoptee writes a detailed critique of the media's portrayal, naming the emotional bent that adoption stories often take, one that focuses solely on the adoptive parents' point of view. It's hurtful as an adoptee to see this happen over and over. To feel silenced, objectified. But I believe we should be compassionate as we criticize, recognize others' good intentions as we speak up. We should definitely speak up.
America, we should be careful as we laud, and not simply see these Haitian children as poor and in need of rescue. We should not simply view these adoptions as providing a "better" life for these children. Yes, their basic needs will probably be met better than back in Haiti (though what if we gave more directly to Haiti so it could provide for its own?). But their emotional needs are even higher now. Remember the lost mothers and fathers.
We must say thank you to all those who stepped forward to give time, money, and resources to Haiti, and to the parents who have opened their homes to these orphaned children. It's a good thing to see people work together to help another country in crisis. It's a good thing that people are coming forward to meet immediate needs of children. Intentions, I am certain, are good. But, adoption is always-always-always complicated, and a balanced perspective on all the issues surrounding it rarely seems to emerge. No one likes to hear about the downside of adoption, or how a good thing can go bad.
Fifty-three orphans arrived here in Pittsburgh yesterday morning. As they get settled into new families, my hope is that the parents are being educated on the issues surrounding this potentially-good-yet-complex situation. The children might not be as "grateful" as parents expect them to be. At some point they might struggle with racial issues, anger, confusion. They will probably want to return to Haiti one day, obtain their original birth certificates and records, maybe find their birth parents or other blood relatives. I hope the parents are ready for that, and will allow space for their children's complicated emotions.