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Arrogant Americans Deserve Haiti's Wrath

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The Haitian government is taking a tough stance on the group who allegedly tried to abduct 33 children from their parents and home country.

Ten American Baptists

Ronda Kaysen: The Baptist church group that tried to take 33 children out of Haiti last week has been charged with child abduction and criminal conspiracy, charges that could carry a 15-year prison sentence.

Port-au-Prince lost judges, lawyers, courthouses and its main prison in the January 12 earthquake that devastated the country's capital. But by deciding to move forward with this case, the government is showing that its justice system is intact and sending a message that Haitian kids are not free for the taking.

The Haitian government is absolutely right to take a hard line on the case. The nation has a dark history of human trafficking and there have been reports that Haitian children have been snatched from hospitals.

First, the children involved were not all orphans. The group's leader, Laura Silsby, personally met with many of their parents and lied to them, telling them that she had the government's permission to take their children to the Dominican Republic. She promised them education, a soccer field and a swimming pool. In reality, she had only vague plans for their immediate future.

God, it seems, was steering her decisions. "We have been sent by the Lord to rescue these children, and if it's in the Lord's plan we will be successful," Silsby told a human rights activist in Haiti before rounding up the children, ages two months to 12 years old. Her arrest at the Dominican border suggests that God didn't want her taking kids out of their own country.

The group, New Life Children's Refuge, behaved with reckless arrogance. Their leader claims they were following God by carrying the children out of their ravaged homeland and into supposedly better lives. But to many Haitians, a deeply religious people, the outsiders' plans were very mortal, inconsistent, and flawed.

"It is clear now that they knew what they were doing was wrong," Prime Minister Max Bellerive told reporters earlier this week.

They were also dishonest. Clint Henry, senior pastor at Silsby's Idaho congregation, Central Valley Baptist Church, told me on Monday, "We're not involved in international adoption."

But international adoption appears to be exactly what New Life was involved in. A Web site for the group said that the children would be in a "loving, Christian, home-like environment" and be eligible for adoption with the help of American adoption agencies.

Children who've lost parents do best when they are placed with extended family members, in their home communities, and in their home countries, Lisa Laumann, an associate vice president for child protection at Save the Children, told momlogic.

International adoption has its place in that equation, but by no means should rogue foreigners be showing up in Haiti and taking matters into their own hands. The Haitian government has the right -- and responsibility -- to make an example of the ones who do.

The plans that Silsby and her group laid out were sketchy, at best. There was no orphanage in the Dominican Republic. They had vague plans to put the kids in a resort while they built a more permanent setting for them. It's unclear who they were working with and what those people's intentions were.

And then, there's the issue of Laura Silsby herself. The New York Times reported that in addition to calling herself a missionary, she's also a businesswoman back in Idaho with employees who've recently complained about unpaid wages. The state has placed liens on her company bank account.

After the group learned that they'd been charged, they smiled at reporters and held a prayer circle. In every interview with the press, they've expressed their resolve. God, they say, will set the record straight.

Well, the record looks pretty straight to me: It looks like 10 ignorant Americans with no prior knowledge or experience with international adoption showed up, broke the law by plucking children from their families and tried to smuggle them out of the country.



next: The Forgotten Baby: Crime or Mistake?
10 comments so far | Post a comment now
friend February 8, 2010, 12:00 PM

LOL… loot a country in rambles… so Americans shouldn’t always feel so high and mighty for their so called “righteousness”, especially religious people. Just remember that, like any other human being, ANYBODY can do wrong, so don’t trust anyone by their title or affiliations but judge them by their character and actions.

tennmom February 8, 2010, 1:40 PM

I find it commendable for any group, religious or non, to be willing to help people in need.
If these helper-groups want to help, they should do so at home in the U.S. Want to save people from poverty, malnutrition, disease? Head to the Ozarks. It would take years to help all the ones needing help there. Many of those children have never seen a soccer ball, soccer field or swimming pool.
Look around your own town. There are children whose only meals are the ones they get at school. I’ve seen kids wolf down a sometimes less-than-appetizing looking breakfast on Monday mornings. The cubbards of families depending on food stamps gets pretty bare towards the end of the month.
Some elderly people have the same troubles. I met an older gentleman who didn’t want to warm his food because he was afraid the stove would use too much “power” & raise his electric bill too high to pay. It was December, not having electricity could have killed him. Ever see someone eating a bowl of cold, condensed soup, then saving the uneaten portion for later?
Help should start at home.

Anonymous February 8, 2010, 4:46 PM

sounds like a cult to me

Patricia February 9, 2010, 2:43 AM

It’s unfortunate that Laura tryed to be a so called hero and tryed to take these kids into another country, she lied to their parents, who knows how many parents she actually contacted. All of the people from the US and around the world in Haiti that are working “together” to find lost human beings and also to help rebuild a very poor country should be very upset by these so called do-gooders, you can not just go into another country scoop up a group of kids and try to cross over another border without permission from anyone, she can say what she wants, what she did was wrong, she probably lied to the group telling them she has everthing in order and they were under the false impression what they were doing was right and GOD will protect them. I am glad she was caught, these children have suffered enough, her background of unpaid wages from her company in the US caught up with her too. If the people with her HONESTLY did not know what she was doing was totally illeagle, they should be set free, Laura you are giving the honest people that are there to help out and try to better this country a bad name. Shame on you.

Anonymous February 9, 2010, 11:26 AM

Dumb Americans trying to help children in one of the worst situations have been imprisoned. This is after our country has sent Haiti millions plus thousands of medical and rescue professionals.

Haiti,
Release our dumb but kind-hearted people!!!! We have shown you mercy. Return the favor!

concern February 9, 2010, 11:46 AM

If you have nothing good to say. Don’t say anything.

Vic February 9, 2010, 4:30 PM

I think that we should be taking care of the people in our own country.
There are homeless, hungry people here, including children.
Our country does not do a very good job of caring for its disabled Veterans either. It is sad that veterns must use advocates to receive the benefits they should be handed on a silver platter.

Angela February 9, 2010, 7:12 PM

What if after Katrina I approached parents saying “Too bad you lost everything and can’t care for your family now. Just hand those kiddos over to me and I’ll guarantee they get scholarships and all sorts of opportunities. And don’t worry about the legal red tape. I’ve got it all covered.” Yep, pretty heinous and definitely kidnapping. How is this any different?

ultrasound technician April 8, 2010, 7:18 PM

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

anonymous April 25, 2010, 1:04 PM

I love how the focus of the article is not the stupidity of a few individuals, but the fault of “Americans,” or “religious people.” Gosh darn stupid Christian Americans are ruining the world, right?


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