Like ebony fashion accessories, Haitian kids have suddenly come into style. From Madonna to Angelina Jolie, adopting little black children has become the fad that never quits. That cute little black baby in your family photos gives you the right to sing ‘We Are the World’ a little louder than your neighbor. Hurry now and you might be able to get one before Easter; in fact, you may even find one who was in the Haitian earthquake. Now that would be really cool.
Forgive my cynicism, but I must express a bit of concern over the sudden global gold rush to adopt Haitian children. While I certainly am not one to underestimate the giving spirit that drives one human being to take responsibility for another, I simply cannot understand why many Americans would choose to insensitively take young children out of their environments without spending one second reconsidering ways to simply make that child’s life better in Haiti. Some of the kids are orphans yes, and people of all nationalities have the right to adopt them. But we must consider that there are options to economically support initiatives by Haitian-Americans who wish to adopt these children without carelessly ripping the kids out of the world they’ve come to know.
Imagine for a second that you are killed in an earthquake in California. Your child is traumatized, parentless and uncertain about the future. Suddenly, a wealthy Chinese family takes pity on the poor child and quickly whisks him to Shanghai permanently. So, in addition to the horrific experience that the child has just endured, they are now in a school where all of the kids speak a language that they will not understand for another 10 years. Your kids are eating food they’ve never seen, and expected to graciously reside with a family they’ve just met. Sure, he’d rather have stayed with his grandparents in California, but they were too poor to have the right to keep him at home. All the while, the Chinese family is parading your sad little American baby around like he is a little Super Bowl trophy. In fact, they even have the audacity to believe that he is better off than he was when his pathetic American parents were alive. At least now he has a Play Station.
That is what we are doing to the children of Haiti and the silliness has got to stop.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner recently went before Congress to explain why he gave $85 billion dollars to insurance giant AIG. Simultaneously, we can barely put together a fraction of that amount to save millions of displaced citizens of Haiti. In fact, the US government spends more money every two hours than the Haitian government spends for an entire year. Perhaps we can spare a bit of lunch money to save an entire nation.
A friend of mine wondered why there aren’t more African-Americans showing interest in adopting Haitian kids. But then again, there are so many African-American kids waiting to be adopted, it might seem that we just don’t have the time. Simultaneously, for all of us who are offended at what’s happening to Haitian children, perhaps we should consider opening our wallets to embrace a deeper role in helping the country overcome this terrible tragedy. One thing that black folks could do is take one month of church tithes and put that money into a fund designed to invest in Haitian infrastructure. Such a massive amount of investment (notice I didn’t use the word “charity”) would have an immediate impact on that nation’s entire economy.
Our view of the Haitian crisis can be just as destructive as the damage administered by the horrible earthquakes that just took place. If we continue to view Haiti as a helpless nation that needs our aid, we will never help Haiti to break the shackles of third world poverty. I would love to see the day when we are diligent about investing in Haitian productive capacity: roads, jobs, education and electricity, the things that a country needs in order to prosper and become independent.
There is the greater question of whether it is even within the interest of the United States to see Haiti become an independent nation. Would we rather have Haiti remain dependent on our measly foreign aid? Either way, the Haitian children need a future, not just a free ride to America.