Race Card: From Adopting Haitian Kids to Giving Them Your Breast Milk
From the outset of the Haitian earthquake, I was a bit turned off by the coverage of white American families adopting Haitian children. It’s not that I object to transracial/international adoption. It’s just that major news networks seemed to devote more time to white Americans trying to adopt Haitian children than Haitians in America seeking information about the well-being of their loved ones on the island-nation. It seemed that networks deemed that they had to place white Americans front and center of this tragedy for fear that the general public couldn’t emotionally connect to the plight of Haitian Americans and Haitians at large.
Moreover, in recent days, the adoption community has expressed its concerns about Americans clamoring to adopt Haitian children following the quake. Racialicious.com reports that a group called Adoptees of Colour released a statement asserting that desire by those from privileged nations to adopt Haitian children “contributes to the destruction of existing family and community structures in Haiti.” In addition, group members, many of whom were adopted under questionable circumstances themselves, are alarmed to hear that “Haitian adoptions may be ‘fast-tracked’ due to the massive destruction of buildings in Haiti that hold important records and documents…”
Although fast-track adoptions may seem like the best move to make in a time when Haiti lies in ruins, such adoptions are troubling because the adoptees may in fact have family members who are searching for them and want to raise them. Children with living but misplaced parents may be misidentified as orphans. Given this, adoptions of Haitian children by those in the United States and elsewhere should not be sped up but slowed down until Haitian families have the opportunity to reunite.
At this time, Americans can not only continue to support the children of Haiti by donating to groups such as Food for the Poor but also by donating much-needed breast milk. The Los Angeles Times reports that there is an urgent need for human milk donation. The reason formula is a poor substitute in this situation is because formula and powdered milk require water, and potable water may be hard to come by in Haiti now. So, if you’re lactating and eager to help Haitian babies in a way that doesn’t further fragment Haitian families, consider signing up with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.
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