Urgency and caution in adopting Haitian orphans

"An ethical, professional, compassionate process"
Alicia Swaringen of Eugene, Oregon, received heart-swelling news the morning after the deadly January 12 earthquake in Haiti: Sthainder, the four-year-old boy she planned to adopt, was safe. And then it hit her.

The adoption paperwork, amassed over three painstaking years, was in Haiti’s Ministry of Interior, now rubble and dust. What, she wondered, would become of the affectionate boy she yearned to bring to Oregon?

By January 19, however, Swaringen’s fears had subsided. She heard the news of plans to speed up as many as 900 U.S. adoptions that were already in progress before the quake—and to ease the way for more.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti was awash in orphans, about 380,000 according to the U.N. Children’s Fund. Many had lost parents to hurricanes, floods, disease or poverty. They lived in about 200 legitimate orphanages or group homes. Other children, however, were sold through bogus orphanages.


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