Summer camp or boarding school

Not good.

Ten members of an American Baptist Church are to appear in a Haitian court this morning after being accused of running an illegal adoption scheme. The group from Idaho said that they were carrying out a rescue mission and had accompanied more than 30 children as part of a plan to take at least 100 orphans out of Port-au-Prince to an orphanage that they run in the neighbouring Dominican Republic…She said that the group had documents from the Dominican Governmen but did not seek any paperwork from the Haitian authorities…

Why not? Did they try? Was it impossible in the circumstances? The article doesn’t say. At any rate clearly documents from another government do not amount to permission to take children out of their own country. If I decide to grab a child and take her to Ulan Bator, it’s not good enough for me to say I have documents from the government of Mongolia. Mongolia isn’t in a position to give me permission to abduct a child from a country that is not Mongolia.

The children, aged from a few months to 12, seemed to have little idea where they were being taken when The Times met them, with some saying that they had parents in Haiti. George Willeit, of SOS Children’s Village, a care centre on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince where the children are now staying, told The Times: “What we know is that some of these children still have their parents. There was an older girl, aged 8 or 9, and she was crying and saying, ‘I’m not an orphan. I still have my parents’. This girl was thinking that she was going to a summer camp or boarding school. She didn’t know what was happening to her.”

No good. Bad. Help and rescue are all very well, but not in a hole-and-corner way. Not least, they have to make triply or quadruply sure to create ample records of what they’re doing so that the children can be found if relatives are looking for them. Even Idaho Baptists don’t get to take short cuts.

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