Ten Baptist missionaries from Idaho are currently in Haitian police custody after being accused of kidnapping 33 “orphans” to cross into the Dominican Republic. Now not only did they not have proper documentation from the government, but some of the children are not orphans at all, NPR reports.
With the government still trying to get back on its feet, lost children could be permanently separated from living relatives, leaving them vulnerable to kidnapping and child trafficking. This is why child welfare agencies are slowing down adoptions and Prime Minister Max Bellerive’s personal authorization is required for each child leaving the country.
The church group’s mission for their trip was to quickly go through Port-au Prince, identify children without immediate families and bus them to a rental hotel in the Dominican Republic without waiting for permission to do so. The orphanage that took in the children after the arrests said some of them had living parents who were told the kids were going on vacation to escape the harsh conditions.
"The instinct to swoop in and rescue children may be a natural impulse but it cannot be the solution for the tens of thousands of children left vulnerable by the Haiti earthquake," said Deb Barry, a protection expert at Save the Children, which wants a moratorium on new adoptions. "The possibility of a child being scooped up and mistakenly labeled an orphan in the chaotic aftermath of the disaster is incredibly high."