Race Card: From Adopting Haitian Kids to Giving Them Your Breast Milk

Nadra Kareem Nittle
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From the outset of the Haitian earthquake, I was a bit turned off by the coverage of white American families adopting Haitian children. It's not that I object to transracial/international adoption. It's just that major news networks seemed to devote more time to white Americans trying to adopt Haitian children than Haitians in America seeking information about the well-being of their loved ones on the island-nation. It seemed that networks deemed that they had to place white Americans front and center of this tragedy for fear that the general public couldn't emotionally connect to the plight of Haitian Americans and Haitians at large.

Moreover, in recent days, the adoption community has expressed its concerns about Americans clamoring to adopt Haitian children following the quake. Racialicious.com reports that a group called Adoptees of Colour released a statement asserting that desire by those from privileged nations to adopt Haitian children "contributes to the destruction of existing family and community structures in Haiti." In addition, group members, many of whom were adopted under questionable circumstances themselves, are alarmed to hear that "Haitian adoptions may be 'fast-tracked' due to the massive destruction of buildings in Haiti that hold important records and documents…"

Although fast-track adoptions may seem like the best move to make in a time when Haiti lies in ruins, such adoptions are troubling because the adoptees may in fact have family members who are searching for them and want to raise them. Children with living but misplaced parents may be misidentified as orphans. Given this, adoptions of Haitian children by those in the United States and elsewhere should not be sped up but slowed down until Haitian families have the opportunity to reunite.

At this time, Americans can not only continue to support the children of Haiti by donating to groups such as Food for the Poor but also by donating much-needed breast milk. The Los Angeles Times reports that there is an urgent need for human milk donation. The reason formula is a poor substitute in this situation is because formula and powdered milk require water, and potable water may be hard to come by in Haiti now. So, if you're lactating and eager to help Haitian babies in a way that doesn't further fragment Haitian families, consider signing up with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

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8 Comments Have Been Posted


If ever there were a reason to wish I was lactating, this would be it.

donating breast milk to

donating breast milk to Haiti is as pointless as donating hand-knits to Haiti. If they don't have the facilities to provide clean water to mix with powder formula, they don't have the facilities to provide refrigeration for breast milk, not the facilities to screen it for diseases that can be transmitted through breast milk, such as HIV, Hepatitis, and so on.

I agree that the "breast is best", but in this situation, a better solution is to donate cash money that can be used to purchase ready-to-drink formula, that doesn't require water to mix.

Haiti is a center for child

Haiti is a center for child slavery and human trafficking, here's a good read on that http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/buy-child-10-hours/story?id=5326508 This is a good reason for people to swoop in and rescue some of those kids, regardless of race, but it's also a rreason to to fast track adoptions in response to the crisis since human traffickers often work under the covers of international adoption and "mail order bride" industries, aid groups are watching as best as they can as far as the children being preyed upon by traffickers http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/fromthefield/506707/126460147278.htm. There is a good likelyhood that many of the poor kids falling through the cracks of the aid system would be better off adopted by outsiders than left to be preyed upon by the organized networks of people who prey upon vulnerable children in a country where poor parents frequently give away their children out of desperation.

As for the breastmilk, some babies cannot digest formula and will die without breastmilk, which is why hospitals keep it banked. Hospital processed breastmilk is pasteurized and screened for aids and hepatitis etc, so there is no reason safe breastmilk donations couldn't be gathered, and if there is no infrastructure there for it, I would hope someone would set it up for the wee infants who will die without it.

Human Trafficking and Haiti

I very much doubt that human trafficking in adults or children has increased since the quake in Haiti. These same hysterical rumours went around after the Tsunami and after the Germany Olympics and guess what? There was absolutely never any evidence to back up that there was some massive (or even minor) amount of human trafficking going on. Please don't use hysterical tactics. Further, major news organizations are not good places to get information on human trafficking - they focus on sensationalism. Finally, please do some research on these kids being "saved" in Haiti. The article rightly links to a good site, Racialicious. That and other sites can provide much more accurate information on international adoption than I could possibly put down here.

There's been lots of

There's been lots of trafficking of children in Haiti before this earthquake, regardless of whether there's been an increase or not. Homeless, orphaned or severely impovershed girls are high risk for slave labor and being trafficked to the Dominican Republic or other places, the information on this is not hard to find, from a wide variety of sources. Hey, i didn't know that about the Tsunami, that's great, however there was unprecented emphasis on registering and monitoring children by aid groups out of concern for trafficking, in areas of the world where child trafficking occurs on a pretty serious scale. Now I'm not trying to use "hysterical tactics", I'm also open to being wrong, however if there is truth that there is suddenly an abundance of high risk, severely impovershed children in many cases who have parents who've given them up out of desperation, is the worst thing really for them to be adopted by white people? I'm not so sure staying in their situation is what they would choose for themselves, if they had any say in the matter. Anyways, I'm pondering your points about "hysteria" and "sensationalism" in the media regarding what I hear is the world's fastest growing crime, human trafficking, and I find it an interesting point. I hope that the benefit to any sensationilism is the extra protection offered to the children as the aid organizations work with awareness.

(and sorry, everyone here, for posting multiple times, I thought my browser was messed. Hope some sort of mod can delete the duplicates, thanks)

Red Cross states Haiti does NOT need breast milk donations

The Red Cross has stated that they do NOT want breast milk donations for Haiti. Apparently this idea started with some well-meaning but uninformed people and then it went viral. It would cost a fortune to transport it and they have no way to ensure that it has been handled or stored properly -- powdered formula is much safer (and cheaper).

MSN article on the subject:


PLAN USA (which I contribute to) has been working in Haiti for a long time and is on the ground now after the quake. Here's their blog about it:

In addition to emergency work in the short-term, they focus on both long-term recovery and child-focused help, including anti-child trafficking measures. Especially after the quake (see blog).

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