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For Orphans in Haiti, Cut the Damn Red Tape Already

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Prior to the devastating 7.3 magnitude earthquake that devastated Haiti last Tuesday, according to the United Nations Children's Fund there were about 380,000 orphans, a number that is expected to grow in the wake of the quake. What is most maddening is many of these orphans were already in the process of being adopted, but the paperwork got “lost in the rubble” — putting this process in limbo and leaving the families involved in adopting Haitian children feeling helpless and distraught.

A few days ago, CNN's Gary Tuchman broke the story about two young American sisters from Pittsburgh, Jamie McMutrie, 30 and her sister Ali McMutrie, 21, who run the BRESMA orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. With the collapse of this orphanage and food, water, and other supplies running low, these two young girls continued their dedication to care for the children with the hopes of getting them out.

This story has a great ending because this morning a "mission" formulated by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), with the assistance of Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and others, succeeded in bringing 53 of the 150 BRESMA orphans back to the United States. Officials are saying, "The other children are being cared for by people from the countries where they are being adopted, such as France and Holland."

Yesterday, Jonathan Hunt, who is on the ground in Haiti, and Shepard Smith in the Fox News studios, brought another compelling Haitian orphanage story to the forefront. The "House of the God" orphanage, run by a Texas-based outreach organization, was in dire straits for aid and the Salvation Army and Red Cross responded. According to Hunt and others, the urgent need now is "to get these children out of Port-au-Prince.” Hunt also informed Smith that the Dutch government decided to “fly a plane there today and pick up 100 children to be adopted by Dutch families."

With much frustration, Hunt pointed out the "ridiculousness of the situation" occurring at the "House of the God" orphanage that he was positioned at, stating that the majority (120 of the 135) of the children "had already been legally adopted by American families.” Despite the fact that "For His Glory Outreach" had sent an airplane and it was sitting in the Dominican Republic, waiting for permission to pick up the children, the orphans still sit in Haiti. "The problem is the State Department; they will not act to allow these children to come into the United States now," Hunt said.

Sitting with the children, Hunt began to introduce Smith to the orphans by name and said, "these kids… are the very best of Haiti." "The families who have adopted [these orphans] in the United States are the very best of America and what is keeping the best of these two countries apart is the worst of America: bureaucratic red tape," Hunt stated with what seemed to be pure disgust.

The stories in Haiti move rapidly, making it difficult to track, and as I write this article, Hunt and Smith announced that Texas governor Rick Perry is lobbying heavily to move these orphans out of Haiti as soon as possible. It turns out Hunt was right, The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs chartered a plane to pick up about 100 children on Monday and from the same CNN report, “300 children have pending adoption cases with American families and six children arrived in Florida Sunday night and were met by their adoptive parents with hugs and tears of happiness.”

As many organizations and government officials are making efforts to protect and provide care for the Haitian orphans and are scrambling to move them to a safe and secure place, I can't help but share the same irritation and outrage Hunt displayed in his reporting. It is sad that the fate of these children lie in the hands of politicians. Furthermore, anyone with half a brain (actually heart) knows that there is a difference between the “letter of the law” and the “spirit of the law,” and this particular crisis calls for action. The Haitian government and any other country, including ours, need to get off their butts, cut the damn bureaucratic red tape, and let the "already adopted" children go home to their new families.

Since my mother died when I was three and my father abandoned me, the orphan issue in Haiti has pulled on my heartstrings. Due to the kindness of distant relatives, I was only an orphan for a short period of time and by no stretch of the imagination can I compare my childhood situation with what is going on with the Haitian orphans, yet, I can care. Because I am not in a position to adopt and will have to settle with my adopted pets, I can only hope that those who have it in their heart to adopt consider the Haitian orphans. Lastly, I can pray that when the reporters go home, the orphans in Haiti are not forgotten or forsaken — all the orphans around the world for that matter.

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About Christine Lakatos

  • KatCamp

    It’s wonderful that these orphans are getting the care they need, and getting the love they need. However, I’m quite sick of Mr. Hunt extolling the virtues of Denmark because they lifted out 100 children and using that to deride USA efforts. While it’s awesome that they did that, what else is Denmark doing? Com’mon Jonathan, stop slamming the USA. And yes, I’ve donated to an orphanage and offered to adopt, but we’re probably too old.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Auuhh Kat, I don’t think Jonathan meant any harm. Hope you can adopt.

  • EMMA

    I WOULD LOVE TO ADOPT ONE FROM HAITI. A LITTLE GIRL WOULD BE FINE. NOW IS THE TIME FOR HUMANITY TO TAKE OVER. SO PEOPLE CAN HELP

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    Christine,
    This was an uplifting article, thank you for writing it.

    The Dutch deserve all the praise in the world for what they have done.

    Since a6.1 after shock just hit Haiti, I pray that it stays in the for-front of this site.

    We can’t lose site of the disaster and the children that have been left in it’s aftermath..knowing that many of the little children pulled from the rubble have now become amputee victims as well.

    I think my heart just broke again.

    Christine, you and I have much more in common than I previously thought..having been adopted from an orphanage in Buffalo, N.Y. This subject also pulls at my heart strings!

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    I to linked Fox News for you.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Jeannie, wow, you are were adopted! We do have more in common! Who would of thunk it? Have a wonderful day! And as “orphans”, we just continue to hope and pray for those orphans in Haiti. BIG hug to you.

  • http://jeanniedanna.wordpress.com/ Jeannie Danna

    HUG you back Christine!

    and, no matter what we believe politically, I will not lash out at you…I save that for others! :)

    Are you OK this morning? How close are you to Newport Beach?

    Stay well and dry :(

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Newport Beach is 4 hours away, but it raining like crazy here in the Central Coast of CA.

  • Jordan Richardson

    I was adopted too. Good times.

    Anyways, I can’t help but think that stories like this confirm that adoption and immigration should be handled by the private sector. Government funds and red tape would not be an issue and tax dollars wouldn’t have to go to help someone else adopt a child.

    You could even work out a sort of pricing system and maybe include free shipping as an incentive to help prospective parents decide on which private company is the best for their adoption needs.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    Jordon, wow you adopted too? No wonder I like you so much.

    Pricing and “free shipping” sounds a little weird to me when it comes to human beings, like UPS or something.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Maybe some sort of group discount could also be helpful or perhaps a “buy one, get one free” sort of deal. Anything to get people in the door, really.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/christine-lakatos/ Christine

    I hear ya, Jordon. Glad to see we agree on something!