Latrine Babies

This crisis has really gotten to me and I’m having trouble putting thoughts together in a way that makes sense. I’m going to do my best, but please give me a little grace if I seem like I’m raving. I realize I’ve already gotten off to a bad start with my title “Latrine Babies”.

I haven’t been involved with Orphanages very much. I have visited a number of them, have various missionary friends who run them and volunteered in a small one in Jamaica for about two weeks. Jamaica is of course very different from Haiti. By comparison with Haiti, Jamaica is a filthy rich country, although pit latrines are common in both. Jamaica is transitioning away from pit latrines to toilets as they progress towards becoming a first world country. Haiti still mostly uses latrines, although in the countryside it’s might be more prevalent for people to use bushes or banana fields.

At the orphanage I worked at in Jamaica there were two latrine babies –  as in, the mother decided for whatever reason to drop her baby down the latrine and leave it there. In Haiti the social and economic problems are far worse and latrine babies are much more common. I can’t say how many of them there are, but I once visited an orphanage here and mentioned about the two latrine babies in Jamaica. The response: “We get a lot of those.” I suspect they are very common indeed, although there aren’t statistics taken on that kind of thing here. I also shudder to think of how many latrine babies aren’t discovered and rescued or are suffocated before being discarded.

Babies are discarded for many reasons, but I believe the average mother would far rather give her baby up for adoption if she had that option.

The best way to deal with an excess of orphans is to have a healthy social and spiritual  environment and a vibrant economy. Any unwanted children are easily absorbed domestically. The United States and many other countries actually have more parents who want to adopt than orphans. Haiti is a long, long way from becoming socially or economically healthy. In the meantime, the first world nations are ideally situated to rescue orphans from a horrible situation. Why not do everything possible to make it work?

Well, according to Haiti’s prime minister, “There is organ trafficking for children and other persons also, because they need all types of organs.” I think if a statement like that is made then it should be backed up by data. For example, this number of orphans purportedly adopted by families in the United States were later killed when they had their orphans harvested. If anyone has actual statistics recognized by the UN or a first world government about illegal organ harvesting, whether for orphans or not, please share them in the comments. If nobody corrects me, I’m going to keep on believing that organ theft from live people is an urban legend. I have no doubt that it’s happened a few times, because the world is very big and this is 2010, but there if there is any trafficking in Haitian organs, the problem pales in comparison to that of the latrine babies.

Haiti’s Restavek problem could also begin to be ameliorated if more unwanted children were adopted into loving homes abroad. I have no doubt that the Haitian government’s rantings about a non-existent live-donor organ trade are partially to distract from Haiti’s very real child slavery.


13 thoughts on “Latrine Babies

  1. You are right on….during prayer time with other women this morning, someone shared about why the adoptions were being limited due to child trafficking…ok, this exposes/gives us a target again on what specifically to pray…

    first, I’ll share some scripture that someone shared this morning in regards to Haiti…Ps. 114:7-9…He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that He may seat them with princes – with the princes of His people. He grants the barren women a home, like a joyful mother of children, PTL!

    This is His heart, and what we are praying for…that the children will go to good homes of His people…that the Haitians will be lifted up, and step into the Life that Jesus has for them that has been stolen from them for far too long…praying that His plans are revealed to key believers who will implement whatever He has in mind for this nation…praying that the enemy will not block it…praying for truth to prevail…

    Next we pray for Him to reveal and expose where the enemy is stealing, killing and destroying… one area would be this child trafficking, but also as the father of lies, the enemy is using the organ donor as a cover up, for the problem of human trafficking…

    Pray specific scripture for protection of the children, poor, needy & oppressed, and then that the plans of the enemy will be confused and thwarted and turn back on themselves (Ps 37:14-15)…pray Ps. 91…that the children are in His secret place/shelter and are covered under His wings…again, read this Psalm out loud, or ask someone to read it for you…I quite often ask my husband or 9 year old son to read it for me…

    Also, Psalm 46…

    and Daniel 2:20-22…Blessed be the Name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changest the times and seasons; He removes kings (leaders) and raises up kings (leaders); He give wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in darkness, and light dwells with Him…

    Then thanking Him for what He is already doing, and is going to do…

    I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers, for the wisdom/insight and might that you are giving to people to help heal this nation of Haiti so that the poor and needy will be raised up from the dust and ashes and be seated with Your people…

    Jesus, we love You…and we pray this in Your Holy Name….Amen…

  2. Well, not only have I never heard of this, I’ve never imagined it. I worked for several years as a child advocate in the juvenile court systems here in the states. I’ve heard of some pretty bad stuff, but that takes the cake. Frankly, it sounds like paranoia and deep ambivalence on the part of your leadership about “outsiders'” involvement with the Haitian people.

    As far as the situation in the states goes, it has been awhile since I worked as a child advocate, but when I did, there were very long lists of children needing to be adopted here, as well. There have been waiting lists for people wanting to adopt healthy babies here in the states, but there is not much interest in adopting older children and/or drug effected babies. As many, if not most of the children in our juvenile court systems were exposed in utero to drugs and even worse, alcohol, we have a situation here that feels hopeless for many children.

    It is difficult to really gather the horrific conditions many children endure in Haiti. Here, our foster children are not starved of food, but they are starved of spirit and nurture. So many of our older foster children age-out of the child welfare system and enter into other forms of the system such as the criminal system. Wouldn’t it be interesting for our older foster children (all older children in fact could benefit) to get some kind of connection to the conditions children in Haiti are facing, such as pen pals or skyping with kids their age- a human connection.

    Perhaps understanding someone else’s plight makes us more able to see the possibilities for making our own lives better and eventually inspire us to work towards bettering someone else’s life- like you have been doing for years now.

    The leadership is Haiti does sound frightening and superstitious. As adoptive parents, this must hit home painfully close.

  3. Chris, thanks for addressing this subject.

    We all, me, many of us, tip toe around Haitian politicians who do and say rediculous things that do harm to their fellow citizens. To hold up adoptions based on the stupid idea that the children are being used to provide organ transplants is unspeakably stupid, ignorant and cruel.

    For every orphan not released to their adoptive parents one new orphan will not have a place to go, will be left homeless, ripe fodder for real predators.

    The real needs of the children in Haiti must be addressed if we are to continue to call our efforts humanitarian!

    God help us all, and especially the children.

  4. The govt may be hindering adoption because they don’t want to lose the male children (much like China and India) but the prime minister would be politically incorrect and insensitive in saying that, something he can’t afford to do with the world scrutinizing Haiti.

    Haiti should become a protectorate but of whom? We (the U.S.) would appear to be threatening Cuba; Venezuela would be a good choice but then the U.S. would see it as a threat. Best bet – why doesn’t the volunteer/aid community as well as many Haitians lobby to have the Dominican Republic as protector? The D. R. would need help but it is a possibility.

    Your blog entry is so disturbing. “Latrine babies!” Incredible! Until the quake, Haiti had a university, didn’t it? And there must be some educated people living there. Why don’t such issues have people screaming? Is there a will in Haiti for social change and economic stability or is there resignation to relying on religion, ritual and/or luck?

    Thanks for your service.

    • The poverty in Haiti is far more extreme than we in North America understand. The Haitian people are truly victims, victims of greed and the ignorance of their leadership.

      Imagine living in a country where only 15% of the people speak the official language of the country. Where business is conducted in that official language. A country where schools are taught in the official language and you memorize the words. Where no critical reasoning is taught, the teahcers are unfamiliar with the concept.

      The small upper class is quite separate from the bulk of the people. The idea of a free public school is foreign as far as I know.

      Your idea of communication, pen pals and such is good but very difficult to implement. Electricity is not regular, often absent. I have seen students regularly walking into a place where a business has lights and sitting on the street to study. I know people who have gone to school but their parents could only afford it every few years.

      Haitian people have very many barriers to self destiny, most of which we cannot even imagine. Yes, it is complex, and we do want to help but often not in the context in which Haitians can use or even understand our help. Still they are 600 miles from Miami, 90 minutes by air. They are our neighbors, fellow citizens of the world and most often ignored, blamed and overlooked.

      I wish I could better explain. I hope you will continue to be interested and seek out answers.

    • Thank you, Suzanna. Those are good questions. Unfortunately, D.R. has a bit of a difficult history with Haiti (one particular massacre of 2000 or so Haitians by the D.R. army still resonates here). As far as the people screaming? Well, Haiti has had so many coup d’etat that it isn’t actually a functioning democracy except in name. Corruption is pretty much universal in government, so the people have learned to bribes as a matter of course if they want to get anything done, whether it be a driver’s licence or birth or marriage certificate or a court judgement against the man who raped your daughter. So long as there is generally enough food to eat, Haitians will accept an astonishing amount of abuse from the government that’s supposed to represent them.

  5. I am so glad that the truth about conditions (political, judicial, economic and cultural/moral) in Haiti are finally being exposed. What a tragedy that it had to happen by means of a deadly earthquake.
    Haiti will never be the same. We fervently hope and pray that the new Haiti will be a vastly improved version.

    Why is no one suggesting that Haiti become a Canadian protectorate? They have the stability and there is some commonality of language. And the issues Susanna put forth would be solved.

  6. Lets hope things are starting to improve now in Haiti….
    Lets hope the world doesnt forget about them, and they continue to get the support they so deserve…
    Am sure the big man upstairs is looking out for them X

  7. I found your website while trying to find out what happened to a Haitian baby that was found alive in a Haitian latrine. (I found the video of his rescue on youtube, quite by accident.) I was appalled at the thought of someone throwing their baby into a pile of human feces. It was beyond unbelievable! It haunted me every day since I saw that video, so I had to find the outcome of this tragedy. I am a typical US citizen, with no concept of the degradation and poverty that exists in Haiti. Your website is a real eye opener to the fact that this type of thing happens all the time there. My heart is truly moved for the people of Haiti. I am purposing to find a way to help the unwanted babies there. Thank you for your work there and your heart for Haiti.

    • hi diane,
      i was looking for the information, did you get any news by chance ? the baby’s face is still hauting me. I’m a young mother that’s why I’ve been so moved by that video.

      God bless that child and gives him a bright future.

  8. Chris and Leslie, I have learned so much about you, your mission, and Haiti reading your blogs and the comments they generated . Now that I am using my laptop—-and learning how—I am glad to have had a quiet evening just reading what you have shared. Olivia is a very fortunate child to have been adopted by wise, loving, and caring parents. I feel your frustration in dealing with the coruption that stands between you and her release, and pray for resolution, as well as safety for you all. My Compassion child Aslande Doriscar wrote poignatly after the hurricaine (which preceded the earthquake), “Pray that God does not forget us.” I am glad He has people like you to do His work. Much love, Aunt Sue

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