Last Monday, the Adoptees of Color Roundtable released a statement justly criticizing the discourse around the adoption of Haitian orphans. The oft-repeated desire to “adopt a Haitian baby” probably comes from a genuine desire to help; however, it overlooks the way fast-tracked adoptions reinforce the white saviour complex in a way that is racist and potentially traumatic for these already-traumatized children, taken from their communities and any extended family.
In practice, the pressure for immediate Haitian adoptions leads to dangerous mistakes – especially when buildings holding important documents, including records of family members, might have been destroyed in the earthquake. Adoptees of Color reminds us that “removing children from Haiti without proper documentation and without proper reunification efforts is a violation of their basic human rights and leaves any family members who may be searching for them with no recourse…. Immediate removal of traumatized children for adoption – including children whose adoptions were finalized prior to the quake – compounds their trauma.”
Haitian parents and extended family members don’t need us to take away their children, from whom they might have been separated in the chaos; they need food, water, and medical aid, and they need us to pressure our representatives to increase refugee visas and expedite reunification visas for Haitian families. Adopting Haitian children, right now, would be a disservice to both them and their communities.