Posted by: mzbitca | January 31, 2010

Contrary to Popular belief: white people don’t always know best

Last week on Feministing they posted a bit of a letter urging responsibility when dealing with adoptions of Haitian orphans in light of the earthquake and all the ways this could be detrimental to the culture of Haiti and the right of these children to be raised by family or others familiar with her culture.

In a not completely shocking turn of events, the readers of feministing were shocked that anyone would not think the adoption of children of color by those of us in the United States was anything other than the “best thing that could happen to these children”.  There were screams about slave trade and how we should be protecting the kids by taking them from their home when they may have family still alive and place them with an individual who may or may not be supportive of their culture.  

Then this happened:

The orphanage where the children were later taken said at least some of the kids have living parents, who were apparently told that the children were going on an extended holiday from the post-quake misery.

The church group’s own mission statement said it planned to spend only hours in the devastated capital, quickly identifying children without immediate families and busing them to a rented hotel in the Dominican Republic without bothering to get permission from the Haitian government.

I’ve noticed this type of reaction before, it seems that people do not seem to want to realize that in any type of multi-cultural adoption like this there is always one individual with more power and it rarely is the child who’s fate is being determined by others. I am not saying that every adoption like this is wrong or hurts the child.  But to always assume money equals better is to do a disservice to the notion of culture and the importance of growing up where people look like you, talk like you, have the same history as you.  Something maybe your average individual from America may not think of because they have not truly been an outsider.

There is this underlying argument which is: They have such a hard life, their parents can’t care for them etc etc etc.  Guess what, we have families like that right  here in America, you refer to them as Wefare babies, Welfare Queens and complain that they get unfair advantages because of affirmative action and certain types of scholarships.  If we truly wanted to help we should be helping build up Haiti in hopes that with a stronger infrastructure parents wouldn’t feel they had to give up their children to give them a good life.

Instead statements about having “good intentions” are thrown around as though because you have enough money to buy a child and can guarantee that it will be fed and kept healthy you have the right to absolve yourself of any true knowledge about colonialism or even just the types of shody adoption practices that consistently take place when doing any type of adoption across country.



  1. I just wrote about the same thing! And I have the same concerns.

    A middle-class American childhood is NOT categorically better than a childhood in a poorer country.

    White, middle-class American parents are NOT categorically better parents than brown or black poor parents.

    Real solidarity with Haiti and Haitian families would encompass just a little more than simply siphoning off their children for a “better” childhood in America. ‘Cause that’s more like the opposite of “help”.

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