New legislation hopes to give orphans permanent homes

By February 19, 2010

Haiti (MNN) — Wednesday, the Haitian government released eight of the ten American missionaries who were detained for taking children from the country illegally.

While Bethany Christian Services adoption ministries were not affected by the incident, spokesman John VanValkenburg said, "More than anything, the situation with the group from Idaho has just brought more attention to child welfare situations and the importance of following foreign law."

So, Bethany, who had ministries in the country long before the earthquake struck, is doing what they can in Haiti while keeping within the law. Currently, all new adoption cases are closed until the country can begin to rebuild their infrastructure and children can be reunited with relatives.

New legislation may allow and speed up the process for children who were orphans before the earthquake. Introduced by U.S. Representative Pete Hoekstra (R) of Holland, Michigan, the Haitian Orphan Placement Effort Act plans to help these children as much as possible.

"What the HOPE act is looking to do is to expand humanitarian parole to children who have not yet been matched by family but have been declared an orphan for adoption," Van Valkenburg said. This means children who could have been adopted before January's events but were not yet matched with a family will now have the opportunity to be placed in a permanent home.

If passed, thousands of kids will be given a new home in which they will not have to worry where their next meal will come from. The goal is that they will also learn about Christ and the plan He has for their lives.

VanValkenburg said since the earthquake, the number of people who have expressed interest in adoption in Haiti has surged. Last month alone, 1600 preliminary applications for adoption were filed on their Web site, which is 500 more than filed in all of 2009. Thousands of individuals have contacted Bethany with interest by phone, e-mail or their Web site.

"I think what people see through all of this is that God's will is being done, despite the disaster," said VanValkenburg.

If you would like to learn more about the adoption process in Haiti or around the world, you can check out There is no charge to fill out a preliminary application.

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