Local organizers for a ministry attempting to bring orphans out of Haiti have turned their efforts to delivering medical aid while the government develops an emigration policy for children.
Dan Lynch, co-founder of God's Plumbline Ministries based in Acworth, said the group has been accumulating donations of food and medical supplies at such a prodigious rate, it needs more planes to transport them to makeshift rehabilitation centers in Port-au-Prince. Lynch was on the road Monday, picking up more supplies.
Meanwhile, attempts to bring orphans to U.S. adoptive parents has been put on hold as the government tightens restrictions. Duluth-based Kids ‘R' Kids donated use of its corporate jet for two aid flights in the past two weeks. Both times, medical personnel and supplies were delivered, but attempts to bring back children failed. Lynch and his wife, Sheila, said they have proper adoption papers certified for six Haitian orphans, but the clampdown has added another hurdle.
"A lot of people want the feel-good part of it, have the children come back, but that's not happening right now," Lynch said. "We're still working all the logistics out."
Haitian authorities arrested 10 members of an American Baptist church group on Sunday for allegedly trying to smuggle 33 children across the border to the Dominican Republic.
The incident only added fuel to the case for having adoptions curtailed.
Lisa Laumann, associate vice president for child protection at Save the Children, said in her discussions with other organizations involved in foreign adoptions, it makes sense to slow down until the government can sort through the carnage.
"We're all concerned about children's vulnerability in this situation," she said. "We support the identification of separated children and the family-tracing process."
In some cases, Laumann said, children are being brought into the United States without proper documentation. As a result, many agencies are forced to explore alternative care for them at a time when they are already dealing with stress, she said.
She supports the moratorium on adoptions until the Haitian government can set up a process by which all children can be properly vetted.
"There are a lot of adoption processes under way now," Laumann said. "The concern is more for children whose situation we don't have adequate information. We're concerned that moving them out of the country may make the family-tracing process more difficult."
But the alleged smuggling incident hasn't deterred Dan Lynch.
"I really don't look at what other people are doing and say, ‘That's going to hurt things,' " he said. "Truthfully, they were doing something illegal. ... If you don't have the right paperwork, you shouldn't be bringing them out of the country in the first place."
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.