Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Haitian Orphans and American Orphans

I was among the first to get caught up in a rumor last week that a plane carrying 300 Haitian orphans was headed for Indianapolis and families were needed to care for them. It was a feel good idea, just what the doctor ordered after days of being bombarded with horrific images from Haiti. After watching video footage of bodies littering the streets of Port-au-Prince and seeing traumatized orphans wondering aimlessly amid the piles of rubble, the thought of bringing those precious children to a safe place with clean drinking water was thrilling.

Hundreds of other people thought so too. Within 12 hours, one church reported receiving more than 1500 inquires from families interested in adopting these children.
CLICK HERE for more details.

Although the orphans did not arrive, a load of questions did instead.

Why are so many people willing to open their hearts and homes to Haitian orphans but no one is lining up to take in the
126,967 American foster children who have been freed for adoption but unable to find permanent homes?

Why does Hillary Clinton call a
meeting with the heads of the US State Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Homeland Security to discuss the Haitian orphan crisis, yet the foster care crisis plays out every day in the lives of our forgotten children? Our government vowed to cut through the red tape and expedite adoption of previously identified Haitian orphans to waiting American families. We should do this. Absolutely. But can we also at least vow to cut through the red tape in our foster care system too? Please?

Why do celebrities come together to help raise
$57 million dollars in one night but they can’t come together and use their influence and resources to help any one of the 91,278 babies that are victims of abuse or neglect in this great country of ours?

Just because I ask these questions does not mean I don’t want to save the Haitian orphans as much as the 1500 people who inquired about adopting them. I do. My arms ache to hold one of them and I would love to save them and give them a good home with laughter, love, an education and yes, clean drinking water.

Maybe we don't have a shortage of open arms and homes with people willing to raise and love vulnerable, defenseless children. Maybe we just have a shortage of people willing to tolerate the government bureaucracy with comes with every foster child. Maybe this should be a wake up call to the people in leadership positions in the foster care. We have plenty of willing families. Now how do we work with them?

If you have any ideas on why we have 126,967 legal orphans and how we can help them find permanency with a family that will love them, please, pass them on. I don’t have answers to my questions, but maybe you do.


  1. I believe Hillary Clinton is as committed to American children waiting for permanency as she is helping Haitian children. She can only do so much herself.
    What it takes is other people stepping up, getting rid of their misconceptions about older waiting children, and following through on learning and adopting them to provide a safe, nurturing and loving home.
    If they knew the statistics on what happens to kids who "age out" without being adopted - the number who wind up homeless after two years, the number who don't go on to get a college degree, etc. - maybe they stop and consider helping a child who has dreams and hopes for a bright future, just like any other person.
    It's much easier to sit idle and hope someone else steps up. Why not take a chance and learn more about kids waiting for permanency in your own back yard?
    Become an adoptive parent to an older child - they are looking for love and caring, too!

  2. Great thoughts Holly. Wish I could say that I had some answers, but unfortunately I have as many questions as you do. I think that people think of kids in other countries as in worse condition than our own children, we have missions from other countries showing pictures, TV commercials. Our children live in America - how could they possibly be off as bad as these children? Maybe because they don't get as much press time? It's just like abandoned or abused pets. Give them press time and the people come out of the woodwork, wanting to 'save' them, in the mean time other pets are being put to sleep because we don't think of them.
    Don't stop what you're doing. Remember - it starts with one person and then it just grows and grows.
    Blessings. Anna

  3. My family adopts domestically through Bethany. Our state in particular makes foster care adoption a nightmare. It is against what is "allowable" to homeschool a foster care child. We homeschool. We are adament about homeschooling. We would only be eligible for children over the age of 9. Our biological daughter is 8 and I am only 30. I am not prepared or equipped for an older child.We would love to open our home to a foster care child, but the risk is too great. Our sons adoption took eleven months to terminate legal risk. That was difficult, BUT it was through another state. We are preparing for that again, but through Bethany, not the state.The bureacracy is a nightmare.

  4. This is a very interesting perspective, and I think you're right on about the beaurocratic nightmare with the U.S. foster system. My parents took in foster children for ten years, and my sainted mother, a pediatric RN specialist with a huge heart, was finally so burned out and heartbroken by the experience that she hung up her hat and stepped away from the system. We would definitely be more likely to consider domestic adoption/fostering if we felt like we would actually be recieving support.

  5. Thanks to all of you for your comments. Lori, I love your description of your mom. People like your parents truly are the 'life-changers' and unsung heroes of the foster care system. The same heart that brings them to foster is the very heart that is often bruised and broken. I'm convinced the only way we will improve the current system is for ordinary people to join this discussion and help craft solutions. Thanks to all of you! Holly