December 7, 2012
Haiti Orphanages Are Overflowing—But Not with Orphans
Facilities face closure because 80 percent of 'orphans' have at least one living parent.
According to the New York Times, many Haitian orphans "aren't orphans at all." At least, not in the traditional sense.
The Times reports that roughly 80 percent of the 30,000 Haitian children living in orphanages may have a living parent who—due to poverty, health, or other circumstances—has abandoned the child.
But the government is attempting to enact reforms that would close many Haitian orphanages, and reduce the number of children living in others, in order to clamp down on child trafficking and abuse. These reforms would align Haiti's policies with international adoption standards.
A UNICEF-financed inspection revealed that only 112 of Haiti's 725 orphanages are accredited; 72 of the orphanages operate in sub-standard conditions—and may participate in trafficking some 2,000 children across the border annually. American missionaries have worked to help close the worst of the homes, but so far only 26 have been shut down.
CT has regularly reported on Haiti and orphans, including whether a high-profile adoption scandal in 2010, when 10 Idaho-based Baptists attempted to smuggle 33 Haitian children into the Dominican Republic, would damage evangelical adoption efforts. CT noted lessons to be learned from the incident, as well as Haitian adoption advice from the U.S. State Department. CT also noted the plight of an American missionary jailed for five months without charges in Haiti.
Earlier this year, CT also noted that the number of international adoptions fell to an all-time low in 2011.