Monday, January 25, 2010

Soledad O'Brien's Eyewitness Report on the Haitian Relief Effort and Adoption

Soledad O'Brien "The Haiti Relief Effort" Interview with Kam Williams 

By Kam Williams, Syndicated at many news outlets where you can rad the entire story. Following are intro and some excerpts:

In the wake of the Haitian earthquake, CNN's Soledad O'Brien rushed to the region to deliver the same sort of high-quality, eyewitness coverage that she has dependably broadcast in the past on location after location from such disasters area as the Indian Ocean Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.

KW: I told my readers I'd be speaking with you, and they sent in a lot of questions.

KW: Mirah Riben, author of a couple books on adoption asks, what you think of the people rushing to adopt Haitian babies?

SO: I think anybody who is willing to adopt a child in any situation is amazing. That's really a very selfless thing to do. However, I agree with those who say that adoption should not be rushed. The adoption process in Haiti normally takes several years, and it should. It would be terrible to risk an adoption by someone who should not be adopting a child. Still, what I find frustrating is that so many people see it as an either/or situation. You can do an airlift for kids who are dying, feed them, and return them without adopting them out. It doesn't have to be either snatching babies out of their parents' arms or leaving them there to die. There's a middle ground in there, and what's made me really angry is how the question has been posed as one or the other. Plus, there are plenty of orphanages that don't offer kids for adoption, but just take care of kids for people who can't afford to raise them. In a way, those kids are currently the most desperate, since they're totally under the radar. You get a sense that their situation is very dire and that no one is keeping track of them. So, it sort of annoys me that there isn't a sense of urgency about trying to save them, too.

KW: Mirah also feels that people inclined to adopt on impulse ought to be encouraged instead to donate money so the kids can be raised right there by relatives and grow up in Haiti in their own culture.

SO: Yeah, the impulse to adopt is coming from a great place. I felt the same way when I encountered a truck with about 25 babies lying in the back. I wanted to grab as many as I could hold and run for the border. They had diarrhea and started puking all over me. I can't tell you how many of my personal friends have asked, "What do I have to do to help one of those babies?" Their thinking is, if they're going to die, it's worth trying to save them, no matter what's involved. That's a wonderful impulse. But I think there's a vast middle ground between adoption and doing nothing. I've spoken to bureaucrats who say, "Well, you know, we don't want to rush anything," and I've responded, "But human beings are literally dying, and it really disturbs me that you're waiting." I had parents handing me their kids. They were like, "Please take this child and educate him."

KW: This reminds me that Mirah was wondering whether you're aware of the controversy suggesting that children are being taken out of the country before their relatives can be located.

SO: Absolutely! That's not a controversy. It's a fact. You should never want to adopt children out and give them a new set of parents before you've done your due diligence to find their biological parents. What I would suggest is that instead of adopting them out, you make sure they're safe and fed. You just take care of them. We certainly have the resources to do it in Haiti, once the infrastructure is fixed.

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