[News] Adoptees of Color - Statement on Haitian Adoptions

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Feb 1 11:27:16 EST 2010

Statement on Haitian Adoptions

January 25, 2010

This statement reflects the position of an 
international community of adoptees of color who 
wish to pose a critical intervention in the 
discourse and actions affecting the child victims 
of the recent earthquake in Haiti. We are 
domestic and international adoptees with many 
years of research and both personal and 
professional experience in adoption studies and 
activism. We are a community of scholars, 
activists, professors, artists, lawyers, social 
workers and health care workers who speak with 
the knowledge that North Americans and Europeans 
are lining up to adopt the “orphaned children” of 
the Haitian earthquake, and who feel compelled to 
voice our opinion about what it means to be 
“saved” or “rescued” through adoption.

We understand that in a time of crisis there is a 
tendency to want to act quickly to support those 
considered the most vulnerable and directly 
affected, including children. However, we urge 
caution in determining how best to help. We have 
arrived at a time when the licenses of adoption 
agencies in various countries are being reviewed 
for the widespread practice of misrepresenting 
the social histories of children. There is 
evidence of the production of documents stating 
that a child is “available for adoption” based on 
a legal “paper” and not literal orphaning as seen 
in recent cases of intercountry adoption of 
children from Malawi, Guatemala, South Korea and 
China. We bear testimony to the ways in which the 
intercountry adoption industry has profited from 
and reinforced neo-liberal structural adjustment 
policies, aid dependency, population control 
policies, unsustainable development, corruption, and child trafficking.

For more than fifty years “orphaned children” 
have been shipped from areas of war, natural 
disasters, and poverty to supposedly better lives 
in Europe and North America. Our adoptions from 
Vietnam, South Korea, Guatemala and many other 
countries are no different from what is happening 
to the children of Haiti today. Like us, these 
“disaster orphans” will grow into adulthood and 
begin to grasp the magnitude of the abuse, fraud, 
negligence, suffering, and deprivation of human 
rights involved in their displacements.

We uphold that Haitian children have a right to a 
family and a history that is their own and that 
Haitians themselves have a right to determine 
what happens to their own children. We resist the 
racist, colonialist mentality that positions the 
Western nuclear family as superior to other 
conceptions of family, and we seek to challenge 
those who abuse the phrase “Every child deserves 
a family”  to rethink how this phrase is used to 
justify the removal of children from Haiti for 
the fulfillment of their own needs and desires. 
Western and Northern desire for ownership of 
Haitian children directly contributes to the 
destruction of existing family and community 
structures in Haiti. This individualistic desire 
is supported by the historical and global 
anti-African sentiment which negates the validity 
of black mothers and fathers and condones the 
separation of black children from their families, 
cultures, and countries of origin.

As adoptees of color many of us have inherited a 
history of dubious adoptions. We are dismayed to 
hear that Haitian adoptions may be “fast-tracked” 
due to the massive destruction of buildings in 
Haiti that hold important records and documents. 
We oppose this plan and argue that the loss of 
records requires slowing down of the processes of 
adoption while important information is gathered 
and re-documented for these children. 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. We insist on the absolute 
necessity of taking the time required to conduct 
a thorough search, and we support an expanded set 
of methods for creating these records, including recording oral histories.

We urge the international community to remember 
that the children in question have suffered the 
overwhelming trauma of the earthquake and 
separation from their loved ones. We have learned 
first-hand that adoption (domestic or 
intercountry) itself as a process forces children 
to negate their true feelings of grief, anger, 
pain or loss, and to assimilate to meet the 
desires and expectations of strangers. Immediate 
removal of traumatized children for 
adoption­including children whose adoptions were 
finalized prior to the quake­ compounds their 
trauma, and denies their right to mourn and heal 
with the support of their community.

We affirm the spirit of Cultural Sovereignty, 
Sovereignty and Self-determination embodied as 
rights for all peoples to determine their own 
economic, social and cultural development 
included in the Convention on the Rights of the 
Child; the Charter of the United Nations; the UN 
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; 
and the International Covenant on Economic, 
Social and Cultural Rights. The mobilization of 
European and North American courts, legislative 
bodies, and social work practices to implement 
forced removal through intercountry adoption is a 
direct challenge to cultural sovereignty. We 
support the legal and policy application of 
cultural rights such as rights to language, 
rights to ways of being/religion, collective 
existence, and a representation of Haiti’s 
histories and existence using Haiti’s own terms.

We offer this statement in solidarity with the 
people of Haiti and with all those who are 
seeking ways to intentionally support the 
long-term sustainability and self-determination 
of the Haitian people. As adoptees of color we 
bear a unique understanding of the trauma, and 
the sense of loss and abandonment that are part 
of the adoptee experience, and we demand that our 
voices be heard. All adoptions from Haiti must be 
stopped and all efforts to help children be 
refocused on giving aid to organizations working 
toward family reunification and caring for 
children in their own communities. We urge you to 
join us in supporting Haitian children’s rights 
to life, survival, and development within their own families and communities.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

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