Eight out of the ten Americans who faced charges of child abduction soon after the earthquake hit Haiti, walked away from jail in Port-au-Prince last week. Orphanage founder Laura Silsby and her nanny have stayed behind to face more questioning and a judicial system that is trying, but is in shambles.
As the case moves forward, incriminating evidence has surfaced: the Americans have been linked to a notorious Dominican sex-trafficker-turned-legal-adviser and to business interests in the U.S. But all of this brings up many more questions about the nature of international adoptions.
This case is reminiscent of abduction charges against the French nonprofit Zoe's Ark in Chad in 2007. The organization was accused of airlifting 103 Sudanese children through the neighboring country illegally, with the hope of placing them in foster homes throughout Europe. In both cases, individuals carrying the banner of humanitarian will descended on a country weakened by war, or in Haiti's case, by a natural disaster.
Uruguay’s Senate approved on Wednesday a controversial law that enables same-sex couples to adopt children after at least four years of cohabitation. This measure follows the Ley de Union Concubinaria (Law on Civil Unions) that passed in January 2008 and grants same-sex couples the same rights as married couples, pending compliance with certain stipulations.
In response, opponents to the law voiced concerns through the Archbishop of Montevideo, Nicolás Cotugnoover, who, along with the Partido Nacional said that the measure disrespects “human nature itself.” Government officials defend the law, saying that it will simplify adoption procedures and increase transparency.
The procedure is to be regulated by the Uruguayan Institute for the Children and Adolescents (INAU) yet, like with heterosexual couples, will still have to be authorized by a court.
The law had failed to muster enough votes for passage in the Senate in July, and passed the Chamber of Representatives on August 27. Yesterday, the new bill was overwhelmingly approved by a vote of 17 to 23 with all senators from Frente Amplio and Partido Colorado supporting it. The bill is now on the desk of President Tabaré Vázquez, waiting for his action.
President Vázquez signed the adoption bill into law. Click here for an October 27 update.
June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.