You may have seen reports already coming out of Haiti: adoptions are now being personally approved by the Haitian Prime Minister on a case by case basis. The rationale being in this time of disaster, children are being snatched from wherever they are and sent to orphanages… for a price. Haiti already had 225,000-250,000 child slaves. The earthquake only added another way for traffickers to make a dollar.
Let me elaborate on how various scenerios can look in a multitude of situations, disaster or no disaster.
1. Parents, seeing their children starving, sell their children to traffickers who then take the children to orphanages. Phony documents may or may not be drawn up (the smaller the paper trail the better) to prove the child is parentless. Legitimate orphanages take these children in. Illegitimate orphanages take a cut of the traffickers "finders fee".
2. Unattended children are snatched and the scenerio above is repeated. In Haiti, families are frantically searching for one another; but children without proper supervision are prime targets. This frequently happens in countries around the world (like Mexico, for example).
3. Parents willingly drop their children off at orphanages, tagging the children as "abandoned", NOT "orphaned". The parents have not given up their parental rights. Illegitimate orphanges concoct stories of how the children die or run away (leaving the parents in grief) and then sell the children on the black market or to unsuspecting, but well intentioned, richer families.
4. Illegitimate orphanages take the exorbitant amounts of money couples pay to adopt a child from a developing nation but suddenly "shut down" or "disappear". The scammers/traffickers pocket the cash and use the children for other purposes. They may re-open elsewhere and begin their fraud all over again.
If you plan to adopt a child from overseas (or from anywhere), DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Not just history, but every step of the way, ask questions, get references, stay in contact. There are people who run child factories and take children from loving families just to sell them off. And yes, there are couples who are fully aware of what's going on and pay top dollar for everyone to keep their mouths shut.
So not only are many children around the world "phony orphans" (they're abandoned or snatched, rather than parentless), but there are organizations that are also phony and take advantage of disasters, unattended children, desperate parents, and naive adoptive families. It's a lucrative game, and a dirty one.
Imagine living the rest of your life with another family because you were told your parents were dead when all along, they're grieving YOUR death reported to them? Imagine being a parent of a snatched child and frantically searching for them for the rest of your life when all along they're living in a developed nation, "legally" adopted to another family? Imagine being terrified in the middle of an earthquake with no mother or father around, and suddenly taken by strangers and used for things no child should be used for?
It's happening now.
And not just in Haiti.
Adoption is a beautiful and precious process. But beware. There are people making a killing (pun intended) off others' misery and concocting elaborate stories, duping parents and children alike, and even legitimate adoption agencies/orphanages. So many children DO need homes and families. But if their true parents and homes are alive and well, that's where those children need to be.