Haiti detains Americans taking kids across border

From the AP on Yahoo.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Ten Americans were detained by Haitian police on Saturday as they tried to bus 33 children across the border into the Dominican Republic, allegedly without proper documents.

The Baptist church members from Idaho called it a “Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission,” meant to save abandoned children from the chaos following Haiti’s earthquake. Their plan was to scoop up 100 kids and take them by bus to a rented hotel at a beach resort in the Dominican Republic, where they planned to establish an orphanage.

Whether they realized it or not, these Americans — the first known to be taken into custody since the Jan. 12 earthquake — put themselves in the middle of a firestorm in Haiti, where government leaders have suspended adoptions amid fears that parentless or lost children are more vulnerable than ever to child trafficking.

“In this chaos the government is in right now we were just trying to do the right thing,” the group’s leader, Laura Silsby told The Associated Press at the judicial police headquarters in the capital, where the Americans were being held pending a Monday hearing before a judge.

Silsby said they only had the best of intentions and paid no money for the children. She said her group obtained them through a well-known Haitian pastor named Jean Sanbil of the Sharing Jesus Ministries.

Silsby, 40, of Boise, Idaho, was asked if she didn’t consider it naive to cross the border without adoption papers at a time when Haitians are so concerned about child trafficking. “By no means are we any part of that. That’s exactly what we are trying to combat,” she said.

Social Affairs Minister Yves Cristallin told reporters the Americans were suspected of taking part in an illegal adoption scheme.

Cristallin said the 33 children were lodged late Saturday at an SOS Children’s Village outside of Port-au-Prince. SOS Children’s Villages is a global nonprofit based in Austria.

Many children in Haitian orphanages aren’t actually orphans but have been abandoned by family who cannot afford to care for them. Advocates both here and abroad caution that with so many people unaccounted for, adoptions should not go forward until it can be determined that the children have no relatives who can raise them.

UNICEF and other NGOs have been registering children who may have been separated from their parents. Relief workers are locating children at camps housing the homeless around the capital and are placing them in temporary shelters while they try to locate their parents or a more permanent home.

The U.S. Embassy in Haiti sent consular officials, who met with the detained Americans and gave them bug spray and MREs to eat, according to Sean Lankford of Meridian, Idaho, whose wife and 18-year-old daughter were being held.

“They have to go in front of a judge on Monday,” Lankford told The Associated Press.

“There are allegations of child trafficking and that really couldn’t be farther from the truth,” he added. The children “were going to get the medical attention they needed. They were going to get the clothes and the food and the love they need to be healthy and to start recovering from the tragedy that just happened.”

Haiti has imposed new controls on adoptions since the earthquake, which left thousands of children separated from their parents or orphaned. The government now requires Prime Minister Max Bellerive to personally authorize the departure of any child as a way to prevent child trafficking.

Silsby said they had documents from the Dominican government, but did not seek any paperwork from the Haitian authorities before taking 33 children from 2 months to 12 years old to the border, where Haitian police stopped them Friday evening. She said the children were brought to the pastor by distant relatives, and that the only ones to be put up for adoption would be those without close family to care for them.

The 10 Americans include members of the Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho and the East Side Baptist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho, as well as people from Texas and Kansas. Idaho friends and relatives have been in touch with them through text messages and phone calls, Lankford said.

The plan was never to go adopt all these kids. The plan was to create this orphanage where kids could live.** And kids get adopted out of orphanages**. People go down and they’re going to fall in love with these kids, and many of these kids will end up getting adopted.”

“Of course I’m concerned for my wife and my daughter,” he added. “They were hoping to make a difference and be able to help those kids.”

The group described their plans on a Web site where they also asked for tax-deductible contributions, saying they would “gather” 100 orphans and bus them to the Dominican resort of Cabarete, before building a more permanent orphanage in the Dominican town of Magante.

“Given the urgent needs from this earthquake, God has laid upon our hearts the need to go now versus waiting until the permanent facility is built,” the group wrote.

Bolded mine, so which one is it? Get the kids or adopted or not? They contradicted themselves. If I was in Haitian right now this would be one of my biggest fears. To have my child taken out of the country away from me. I doubt the families that are taking the kids to these shelters are doing so thinking the kids are going to be leaving the country. :frowning: These children need to stay in Haiti.


Before I hit your bolded sentences …I thought …this isn’t lining up.

Silsby said they had documents from the Dominican government, but did not seek any paperwork from the Haitian authorities before taking 33 children from 2 months to 12 years old to the border,

I agree something does not add up with these people.:frowning: I’m glad the government of Haiti has put the brakes on the adoptions and the exporting of children out of the country.

I am, too. Haiti needs its children!

these people are opportunists.they should respect the laws of haiti.they need to be jailed!i wouldnt be surprised it they’re catholic bigots.i just read an article on aol that evangelicals from usa are pouring $$$$ to proselityze haitians in this time of crisis.this is despicable!


It amazes me no end. The callousness of exploiters during disasters. Including UN partners like Marie Stopes International, International Planned Parenthood Foundation, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)…etc

BUT someone who exploits… claiming Christianity as their base…sickens my soul.

I think you probably meant ANTI-Catholic bigots.

Your post doesn’t make sense otherwise.

That Silsby said they had got permission from the Dom.Repbulic to take the kids out .I was not aware that the DR ,had authority over Haiti .I am refaining until more comes out .


The following is an email from SOS the charity that received the children.

This past weekend, 33 children from Haiti were allegedly kidnapped in an attempt to bring them to the Dominican Republic. A team of missionaries from Idaho were stopped at the border by Haitian officials because they lacked the proper documentation to move these children outside of their home country. The Haitian Social Ministry immediately sought out a safe haven for the children and found one in the SOS Children’s Village in Santo, Haiti. The children will remain in the Santo Village while authorities search for their families. Read the news account below:
*Late in the evening on January 29th, the Haitian police arrested 10 U.S. citizens attempting to take 33 children from Haiti to the Dominican Republic in a suspected illicit adoption scheme. The suspects did not have official papers confirming the identities of the children, nor did they have official permission to bring the children out of the country. On January 30th, the Haitian Social Ministry entrusted those 33 children (aged three months to 12 years) to the care of SOS Children’s Villages.

SOS has two Children’s Villages in Haiti, one located in Santo, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Both Villages withstood the earthquake and are being used as emergency relief facilities. The 33 children were taken to the Santo Village where they were warmly received. The children – allegedly victims of child trafficking – were visibly in need of special attention and care.

* SOS staff holds a baby at SOS Children’s Villages - Santo in Haiti According to SOS staff in Santo, the children were distressed, hungry and thirsty. Upon arrival, each child was registered with SOS and provided with a nutritious meal. The Red Cross, based at the SOS Children’s Village in Santo, promptly examined the youngest children and provided medical care to those who needed it.

The SOS teams are now closely monitoring the children and trying their best to comfort them. Meanwhile, other SOS staff members are attempting to search for relatives.

"But I am not an orphan," said an eight-year-old girl. She thought that her mother had arranged a vacation trip for her. Some of these children obviously still have parents who may have been persuaded to hand over their children under false pretenses. The allegations will be thoroughly investigated but the Haitian police consider this incident organized child trafficking.

For security reasons, all staff of SOS Children’s Villages are wearing identification stickers, and all children from the SOS Children’s Village in Santo wear wristbands. The entry to the SOS Children’s Village in Santo is strictly controlled.

The news now is that many relatives did give the children to the ‘missionaries’ thinking that they would receive a better life. But my question still stands–if those children had families (even if their parents had died), why would any missionary take them away? Wouldn’t it have been better to use their funds and influence to improve that village for all the people living there? If they’d decided to build a school there, then the children would have received schooling and hopefully good food and proper clothing etc. all while still living in their native country and with their families. Those children would then be the future of Haiti instead of being more displaced people in the DR–because I doubt they would have made it all the way to the US.


Well said:clapping:, if the children are cared for and educated in their own country they will become an asset to Haiti and help it recover from the disaster.

That is exactly what I thought when I heard this on the news, something is just not right here with these people!


Thanks for the update. I hope these kidnappers are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The fact that they are “missionaries” only makes it worse. :mad:

As of today they have all been chared with kidnapping!

I don’t think we’ve gotten the whole truth on this yet. The woman in charge has a very strange background.

The whole thing is very strange, they had no business doing what they did! the whole thing is really very disturbing. While Haiti is totally devastated these people under the guise “God told us to” try to take these children out of their country.:frowning:

Why are Baptist self-appointed "missionaries"targeting Catholic children,the majority of whom have parents?I agree with the president of Haiti who refers to these "missionaries"as a "distraction"to the “1,000,000 people without homes,incimes or sustenance”.Prosecute them.

I was just reading about that. Maybe she was running away from her troubles here? :shrug:

Missionary Stumbles on Road to Haiti

They want more black people in US, where there are a considerable population and in addition, creating more “christians” from catholicism and some other non-christian religions, these freak-evangelists are horrible, in additon, they are stealing people and kidnapping.

I really think they thought they were helping but didn’t do their homework on how things should be done. I suppose they thought this was a desparate situation and they needed to act quickly. It should be a lesson that one still has to go through the proper channels and not just think a ‘third-world country’ is going to be happy with ‘help’ and that there are laws they must obey when in another country.

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