Haiti child adoption case is coverage of the kind we can do without! And it will return to screen and internet as and when further court appearances happen.
What began seemingly as an act of compassion soon fell foul of laws designed to protect vulnerable children. This is a reminder in itself that mission workers are not above the law. Best practice exists in order to protect vulnerable children and adults from those who would prey upon them. Whether the American group were just naïve, as I suspect, there comes a point when naiveté becomes culpable.
But matters took a turn for the worse over the weekend when it emerged that one of the leaders of the group, Laura Silsby, is a woman with a chequered past. It appears she has a long history of owing money, has been the subject of as many as eight civil lawsuits and 14 unpaid wage claims. Further, she was due to face a jury trial later this month over £26,000 she allegedly owed to a former employee. All of a sudden it makes a defence case look trickier than might have been imagined. And the question must be asked, where’s the oversight? Where are the checks and balances? Where are the interviews, the references, the personal testimonies that might authenticate the appropriateness of someone leading a mission team?
I don’t recount this to state that
Over the years many of us within
But I believe we must resist any thought that whisking these children away for life in an orphanage or adoption in another country is the right moral choice. The right thing to do is change the circumstances of the family. Easier said than done, I know, but nonetheless right.
Behind such moments are issues of power, and power in mission is one of the most important issues to grapple with.
As much as I long for men, women and children to come to faith in Jesus Christ, I can see that sometimes I may have to keep silent. If my immediate task is handing out bottles of water to people dying of thirst, I have immense power over these people. And I abuse that power if my offer of water is directly or indirectly linked to a call to conversion. The ends do not justify the means, even if the ends are people expressing faith in Christ but the means have been manipulative.
Sure, some of the Haitian children may have been orphans, but two-thirds of the 33 children had living parents! Haitian mothers may have asked these people to take their children to a safe place, even to give them a better life, but is it right to allow the post-traumatic powerlessness of those mothers and fathers to become the trigger for taking their children away? Do we think Haitians love their children less than we do? Do you think this would be their first choice once the survivors have begun to recover from their trauma?
Reports of thousands of well-meaning parents in
With local churches increasingly undertaking mission visits and mission projects themselves, a not unwelcome feature of Baptist church life, a course in mission ethics should be mandatory.