January 29th, 2010
05:19 PM ET

U.S. State Department Says Orphan Decisions Are Up to Haiti

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/WORLD/americas/01/28/haiti.rebuilding/story.haiti.gi.jpg caption="Homes and buildings remain in ruins after a 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti on January 12." width=300 height=169]

Charley Keyes
CNN Senior Producer

The State Department said Friday that the processing of adoptions of Haitian orphans is “going quite well,” according to spokesman P.J. Crowley.  But the U.S. stopped short of predicting or asking for a surge of American adoptions in the aftermath of the earthquake.

“It is not up to us to encourage that,” Crowley said at his afternoon briefing in Washington. “It is a reality that there are wonderful people here in the United States who have been focused on Haiti, who have been focused on trying to bring children who are orphans here to the United States. We, the United States government, have long supported this. We have to be respectful of the process. We have to be respectful of the government of Haiti because these are their children. These are the children of Haiti” Crowley said.

So far some 500 Haitian orphans, who’s paperwork had been underway in the U.S. and Haiti before the earthquake, have come to the United States since January 12.

Other children have been granted “parole” status to come to the U.S. for a variety of medical and humanitarian reasons.

“We know the tragedy in Haiti with the earthquake will create more orphans,” Crowley said. If that’s the case and there are American families who step forward we will support them after the earthquake just as we supported them before the earthquake.

On Friday the U.S. repeated earlier warnings that some children in Haitia are vulnerable to traffickers and child abusers. “We are also aware that in the attempts to identify and move children to safety we are also concerned and we have seen a couple of cases where we have concerns about pedophiles who represent themselves as in position to adopt children,” Crowley said.

The U.S. is taking diplomatic pains to show that despite an international outcry over the plight of many Haitian children that it is the Haitian government and not American authorities making decisions. “We have a process that is underway that we think is working quite well. It is working in concert with the Haitian government to identify those children who are eligible for adoption and making sure that there are no family members that are in a position to care for these children.”

Filed under: Haiti • Haiti Earthquake
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