Haitian orphans

If you’re like every other American with a pulse, your heart has been touched by the stories coming out of Haiti in the aftermath of its 7.0 earthquake two weeks ago.  What breaks my heart the most is knowing how many orphans there now are in Haiti.  Story after story has come out about lost children who no longer have parents or someone to take care of them.  Today in my local newspaper there was a story about three young children brought to medical professionals after the quake who haven’t said a word since being rescued.  Not a word.  A small baby, estimated to be a week old at the time of the earthquake, was also found in the rubble, reportedly found in his dead mother’s arms.


It’s certainly given me cause to give my daughters extra hugs and kisses this week.  Even more, I’ve wondered at God’s plan.  Why am I and my family so incredibly well off compared to the rest of the world?  Why wasn’t I born into extreme poverty?  Why did God choose those Haitians to be born where they were?  Why has my life been so easy and the lives of others so inexplicably difficult?

I don’t have any answers to those questions, and the only response I can make is to thank God for his gracious kindness, not only in giving me an upbringing and a current life situation where I and my family have so much of … everything, but even more to thank him for making me His child.  I had no hand in it.  I didn’t choose a family to be born into, any more than my daughters chose to be born to JJ and me.  And I certainly didn’t choose to come to faith in God.  God has been so good to me in so many ways, and I don’t deserve any of it.

Compared to the unfortunate people of Haiti, I almost feel guilty at the lavishness of my blessings.  For better or worse, this feeling of almost-guilt has created a desire in me to share something of the bounty the Lord has given me with others not as fortunate as myself.

Such as the orphans of Haiti.

My husband I have casually discussed adopting a child off and on for most of our married life.  We always knew we wanted biological children, and, again, thanks to the great kindness of God, we have been blessed with two daughters whom we love with all our hearts.  Lord willing, we plan to have more biological children in the future, too.

Adoption would be something we would do not to create a family, but to share our family with a child (or two) less fortunate.  With the current situation in Haiti, adoption has been on my mind frequently over the past two weeks.

Recently on NBC’s Nightly/World News, they did a story about Haitian orphans, and I pretty much cried through the whole story.  NBC first presented the great number of children who need help, their dire need for the most basic of life’s necessities, and then they talked of the future of these orphans.  Should these children be adopted out of Haiti, or should they ideally stay in Haiti?  One dewy-eyed 20-something American woman said, quite rightly, that Haiti needs to have a future, and their children are their future.  If a large number of the children leave, what future will Haiti have?  A middle-aged American male relief worker responded saying, quite logically, that Haiti is in ruins and cannot possibly adaquately take care of these children right now.  If they stay, they will have nothing, and adopting them out gives them hope and a future.

I see both sides, I really do.  I said to JJ yesterday, “I think it would make the most sense for us to sponsor a child, or a few children, so that they can stay in Haiti and be part of rebuilding their country, but they can still have access to the basic necessities of life.  Plus it would be a huge change in our family to adopt a child or two from Haiti.  I don’t know if I would manage it well.”

Then I read the story about the children so traumatized that they can’t even talk.

Then I read another story about how officials are worried that these children with no place to go, no one looking out for them, and in great need will be picked up by human traffickers, and sold as slaves and/or prostitutes on the world market.


I don’t know what our family will ultimately decide to do.  Frankly, I don’t know if there’s a perfect solution that meets the needs of Haiti and meets the needs of its children.  I still don’t know how I would do at mothering an adopted child or two.  Would my husband and I love them the same as our biological children?  Would we be ready and willing to handle the likelihood of there being special challenges raising a child who has already had to endure the worst life can give a person?  Would my children adapt well to new siblings?  Would I get over my feelings of survivor guilt to love that child as s/he is, rather than merely feeling sorry for him/her?

I’m nowhere close to feeling settled with answers to these questions.  It will continue to be a situation for which my husband and I will be giving prayer and consideration in the future.

But in my heart, I know that if my husband and I were dead and buried under the rubble, and my daughters were wandering the streets with no one to look after them (Oh, I can’t even imagine it without tearing up), I would say, “To h*## with the rebuilding of a country; give my kids a chance!”

Perhaps, just perhaps, our family can give one or two Haitian orphans a chance.


Now that I’ve got your heartstrings all tugged good and proper, however, read this article written by adult adoptees of color who make a convincing argument that fast-tracking adoptions of Haitian orphans is not a good idea.


One thought on “Haitian orphans

  1. I think both points are valid. I think it is good and necessary to have people who find it in their hearts to reach out with compassion and charity to victims. It is also a wise caution to re-document in times of crisis, and always make sure orphans are truly orphans! (This is my personal fear and “reason” for not adopting [so far]: I would never be sure, never be relieved that whatever child I adopted was truly free to be mine).

    I think the political viewpoint in the article you cited was a great example of how “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” Even though most people give charity with an open heart, there is usually an underlying un-altruistic motive somewhere, even if it is tiny (like thinking White Western culture is the best, which I do, but that’s not the point 😉 ).

    Does this mean we should never do anything good until or unless our motives are 100% pure? I don’t think so. Because that would mean that a lot of good would go undone. Thanks for posting both sides 🙂

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