The Haiti Kidnappers

You may have heard about the troop of Baptist evangelicals who got caught trying to take children out of Haiti without proper paperwork. It appears a judge in Haiti is about to release them so that they can leave Haiti (without the children).

Eugene Robinson wrote about this episode earlier this week. Essentially what the “missionaries” did was take advantage of the confusion and deprivation in post-earthquake Haiti to gather up 33 children and take them out of the country. Their stated intention was to find American families to adopt the children.

According to CNN, some of the children’s parents — who had no food or water to give their children — have since testified that they did in fact give the evangelicals permission to take their children with the understanding that they could see their children whenever they wished. This suggests to me the parents did not realize their children might be adopted by people living thousands of miles away.

As Robinsons says, “I can’t imagine more duress than trying to provide for a family in the days after a disaster of the magnitude of the Haiti earthquake. It was a moment of overwhelming need and despair — precisely the wrong moment to expect a parent or guardian to make a permanent, life-changing decision.” I can only imagine how traumatized those kids must be.

News reports say the group had made an earlier attempt to take another busload of children out of Haiti and had been stopped. Although they claimed to have proper authorizations and permissions, in neither kidnapping attempt were the evangelicals able to produce proof of this.

The group’s leader is a woman named Laura Silsby who has a history of initiating grandiose plans that later fall apart. It appears she abandoned a new home and a start-up company — leaving employees unpaid — to begin her Haitian adoption venture. She also seems to have inserted herself into the efforts of a Kentucky couple to adopt three children

She even found a Kentucky couple, Richard and Malinda Pickett, who had been trying to adopt three siblings from Haiti and told them she could get the children out.

The Picketts say they politely declined, figuring the youngsters were safe and would soon be evacuated to their new home.

“My wife told her that under no conditions should she try to move the kids – that would just interfere with our plans. But she called two more times, and the last time she called, on the 25th, she said she was getting on a flight and would like to pick up our kids,” Richard Pickett said. “My wife, for the third time, told her no way – stay away from them.” …

… The Picketts said they were immediately suspicious of Silsby. The Kentucky couple didn’t need her help – the government had already given them permission to go pick up the children. But Silsby persisted, they said.

She showed up at the Compassion for All orphanage in Haiti, asking to collect the Picketts’ three adopted children and claiming to be Malinda Pickett’s friend, according to Richard Pickett.

When the orphanage told her the children had been moved, Silsby went on to ask for any other kids she could have, Richard Pickett said. She paid a worker to take her to other orphanages in the region and translate for her.

“She asked for kids at each of the orphanages, and at the end of the day when no one would give her any, she cried,” Richard Pickett said. “Why would you cry after you see these kids are being taken care of?”

The Picketts’ adopted children are now with the couple in Bowling Green, Ky. Richard Pickett said he was recently interviewed by an agent with the Department of Homeland Security who is helping investigate the Silsby case.

By all appearances Silsby is massively screwed up. One suspects some kind of personality disorder. But she apparently had the blessing of her Baptist pastor back in Idaho to round up random poor children and spirit them out of the country and put up for adoption.

Although there has been speculation Silsby and her crew intended to make a fast buck by selling the kids into servitude, I suspect she really did intend to see them adopted. The Southern Baptist convention has been promoting adoption, especially adoptions from poor, non-Christian places. (For more background on the Christian adoption craze, go here.) They seem to think the poor places of the world are stuffed with unwanted babies waiting to be adopted, but in fact most abandoned children are older children. Unwanted babies are relatively rare; at least, there are not nearly enough of them to meet the demand.

However, because there is demand, there is a growing black market of babies who were either stolen or purchased.

In 2007, 98 percent of U.S. adoptions from Guatemala were babies who had never seen the inside of an institution were signed over directly to a private attorney who approved the international adoption—for a very considerable fee—without any review by a judge or social service agency.

For a taste of the sheer arrogance of some of these “adopters,” check out this personal account:

It didn’t matter to us that the nurses in the orphanage across the seas still called these boys “Maxim” and “Sergei”; we had on their walls nameplates reading “Benjamin” and “Timothy.” It didn’t matter what their current birth certificates read; they would soon be Moores.

This newness of identity also informed the way we responded to questions, whether from social workers or friends, about whether we planned to “teach the children about their cultural heritage.” We assured everyone we would, and we have.

Now, what most people meant by this question is whether we would teach our boys Russian folk-tales and Russian songs, observing Russian holidays, and so forth. But as we see it, that’s not their heritage anymore, and we hardly want to signal to them that they are strangers and aliens, even welcome ones, in our home.

We teach them about their heritage, but their heritage as Mississippians. They learn about their great-grandfather, the faithful Baptist pastor, about their countrymen before them in the Confederate army and the civil rights movement. They wouldn’t know “Peter and the Wolf” if they heard it, but they do know Charley Pride and Hank Williams and “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder.” They are Moores now, with all that entails.

One adopter wrote,

… we also have the advantage of understanding our host culture’s worldview and their very deep superstitious beliefs. thus, we were not surprised that sterling was given to us with a jade luck charm – a buddhist charm meant to bring good luck, fortune and protection. we, however, know that this charm is associated with spiritual forces meant to keep people in bondage. thus, we smiled and accepted it as we should, and then later went to the park, broke it, and threw it into the pond, and prayed for our sterling that all spiritual bondage over him would be broken. these spiritual forces are alive and real, and manifest themselves in more obvious ways (but with the same degree of power) than in the west, but we know that the power and grace of the God who created the heavens and the earth is infinitely greater than the forces of evil

The original post is now password protected, but not before it got copied and linked all over the Web.

25 thoughts on “The Haiti Kidnappers

  1. It was several years ago now, but I once followed a female into an Evangelical Christian Church. It was the most bizarre month of my life. It was a group of about 100 people who, like me, agonize about the lack of community and sense of place in American cities (much of that is due to the reliance on the automobile for transportation and the fact we have to spread out so much to plan for it… but that is neither here nor there) – they had different answers than I did. You would enter and the group would hug you and behave friendly in a weird, half-hearted way. I was on the edge of being accepted, but because they could see I was only their to flirt with the nice lady and I wasn’t comfortable with the dogma and belief part of our conversations – they eventually told me not to come anymore!

    These people were obsessed with Chinese adoptions – especially little girls. I would say that it is nice of them to adopt these girls, but didn’t America have orphans? I think it has something to do with a new form of imperialism – we have to save these poor infidels from their own culture. Absurd. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  2. then we stepped it up a bit when i asked daddy to join sterling in the bathtub. for two weeks straight sterling and daddy took nightly baths together… which allowed them to bond and gave daddy ample opportunity to teach sterling how to play in the water.

    I think someone has a loose screw in their head. But then again, maybe it’s me. I never had the need nor the desire for getting naked in order to bond with my children or to give them a bath And aside from that, look what happened to Ham when he looked upon Noah’s nakedness….it didn’t go over too big according to the Bible.

  3. [T]heir heritage as Mississippians….

    Oui, vraiment? Slavery, poverty, ignorance, and being the one state Arkansans thank God for, so they’re not 50th-best in everything?

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Crazy, I was thinking the same thing. This is real 12th-Century Crusades insanity; save the li’l heathen chirren from themselves.

    From the sound of it, Ms. Silsby’s going to continue following the unholy voices in her head, until she gets into some international trouble she can’t wriggle out of. For my part, I’ll pray that justice catches up with her sooner rather than later.

  4. gave daddy ample opportunity to teach sterling how to play in the water

    OK, Jeebus Bleeping Cheese, but what child needs to be taught how to play in water? By a nekkid man no less?

    I think “loose screw” is putting it very kindly. These people are criminally dangerous… in any culture.

  5. The arrogance, pomposity, and self-inflicted ignorance of those two adopters is truly stunning.

    I know next to nothing about the rules and regs pertaining to adoption, but have heard they are quite stringent for adopting American children. Are they more lax if one adopts from a foreign country and brings the child into the U.S.? Does total unfitness to be an adoptive parent then not apply?

    Just wondering, because it’s hard to see how any responsible adoption agency would turn those two dolts loose with so much as a puppy from the pound.

  6. thus, we were not surprised that sterling was given to us with a jade luck charm – a buddhist charm meant to bring good luck, fortune and protection. we, however, know that this charm is associated with spiritual forces meant to keep people in bondage.

    So we got rid of that crap and gave Sterling two pieces of gold that had been welded together so that they cross over each other at right angles, one longer than the other and joined asymmetrically. Because that’s the real shit, and with absolutely no associations with abuse or violence at all.

  7. Well Ill ask the quesation: Is being raised by a middle-class fundy Christian in the US better than by your poverty-stricken parents in Haiti?

    That’s not what Silby was doing, in that she didn’t have parents lined up, but the abstract question is one of those interesting ones philosophically. That said, to me it was most likely that Silby was going for an adoption scam. I.E. illegal adoptions of international kids by westerners are good money and much quicker and easier than going the legal route.

    So basically I think she’s a scam artist child trafficker and should be put in jail.

  8. I know this is off topic but it’s a bible question that’s been puzzling me. Why did Saul want 100 philistine foreskins and what was he going to do with them after he got them? If anybody knows…feel free to answer up

  9. Whom ever named the kid “Sterling” needs a good ass kicking.
    Being a Southern Baptist is by definition, a personality disorder.

  10. muldoon, I think international adoption varies greatly from country to country, and even from time to time within the same country. I’ve heard that China was practically giving away infant girls with Happy Meals several years ago, then suddenly their process became very restrictive. (Perhaps this post offers some clues as to why.) Then there’s the infamous situation involving Madonna and… was it the nation of Mali? This scenario with the so-called missionaries in Haiti reminded me of that somewhat. Madonna of course has almost limitless financial resources, so the volume’s going to be up high on her version of things. But it turned out one or both parents of the child in question were still alive, despite stories to the contrary. The parent(s) were able to make themselves heard over the PR din, their government intervened, and the child stayed in his/her home country. After that, for a few minutes anyway, the media became more skeptical of these whirlwind international adoptions by celebrities.

    One thing that irks me is the media still referring to the Haitian children as “orphans.” The children had living parents, whom it pretty clearly appears were lied to. When deception is used to make off with someone else’s children, that makes the children “abductees.”

  11. Why did Saul want 100 philistine foreskins and what was he going to do with them after he got them?

    Hmm. I’m thinking of Buffalo Bill from “Silence of the Lambs,” and then I’m wanting to rinse out my brain with bleach.

  12. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched {Moses’} feet with it.

    Foreskins on the feet. Now there’s a fetish if I ever heard one.

  13. Maha,

    Thank you for calling these “missionaries” what they are: “kidnappers”. Any other characterization of these people just doesn’t convey the crime these people attempted to commit. Whether they were going to “sell” these kids or just arrange illegal adoptions, it is still illegal and they should spend some considerable time behind bars. I wonder if they went to New Orleans after the levies failed and tried to “adopt” any of those needy kids?

  14. Thanks for the info, Joanr.

    Perhaps one of the reasons China has become so restrictive is because boys now outnumber girls either 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 (I forget which). With those odds, girls are becoming more highly prized then boys — at least by the boys.

  15. This seems to be the way religious people behave these days. Everyone is supposed to live by their rules, no matter if they want to or not. To them it isn’t the same as kidnapping and to them murdering the abortion Doctor wasn’t the same as murder. It’s more than a little alarming when you think about it.
    It’s not just one religion, it is most of them. I wonder when they stopped trusting in God and decided they should rule. Yes, I am also still shocked that they would not support healthcare for the masses because they thought someone might use it for something they didn’t want. I have to wonder if their God is the one on the money.

  16. I wonder when they stopped trusting in God and decided they should rule.

    Think Crusades. Or even further back, when the children of Israel were commanded by God to wipe out all traces of a given Philistine village, including the live stock (don’t ask me for a reference for this; I breezed by something a year or so back, don’t know where). It’s a very old story.

    And it goes to the individual sect level. As an example, no offense to anyone, I have been told several times by Baptists that I’m going to hell because I’m not a Baptist, specifically. Protestant-in-general is apparently not precisely specific enough for their particular God.

    If you start drawing lines that sharp, and you make the assumption that by devine right your rules trump the rules used by everyone outside that sharp line, chaos is certain to ensue.

  17. MNPundit – “illegal adoptions of international children by westerners are good money…” reminds me of a ‘business’ uncovered a number of years ago. People were being found dead – primarily in 4th world countries – and missing some of their vital organs. Eventually law enforcement was able to make a link to wealthy individuals in dire need of organs to stay alive as the ‘market.’ Sinister, yes, but no more so than the selling of children for “good money.”

  18. I saw that Angelina Jolie was wandering around Haiti looking for someone to adopt too. Struck me as very creepy.

    • I saw that Angelina Jolie was wandering around Haiti looking for someone to adopt too. Struck me as very creepy.

      Obsessive-compulsive adopting is an upscale version of pet hoarding.

  19. Adopting Haitian children is also the best antidote for White Guilt. Jesus says there’s no better way to improve your standing in the all white congregation than to show his love by the adoption of a Voodoo infected Haitian child. And if there’s no Haitian children to be adopted an unsaved Buddhist child will get you a fairly decent crown.

  20. According to Angelina Jolie: ‘Not the Time to Adopt from Haiti’ (in the Guardian), Ms. Jolie is asking people to help Haitians in Haiti, not take children out. The closest she comes to saying that she’s “looking for someone to adopt” is this bit:

    “I’m always open to children around the world.

    “We’re that kind of family. Brad and I talk about that.
    “But that’s not what we’re focusing on at this time, by any means. We’re not here for that. We’re here to see how we can help protect the children in the country and scale up the needs here.”

    Please don’t assume the worst of people just because.

  21. Pingback: Kidnappers for Christ « D2 route

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