Commentary

Can Someone Please Give Missionaries the ‘Permission’ They Need to Rescue Children?

By Penny Nance | February 19, 2010 | 2:23pm EST
Is there no end to the perversity in Washington?  You really have to wonder.  Haiti is in crisis – yes, still – and what is the response to our calls for the administration to clear the red tape to allow for Haitian adoptions and for Congress to pass the adoption tax credit bills so parents can afford it?  Worse than nothing.
 
Congress has taken no action on adoption tax credits.  The credit will fall by more than half to its 2001 level if Congress fails to act in 2010.  Surely we can agree that nothing has gotten cheaper over the last decade of runaway spending by the political class.  Meanwhile, thousands of children in Haiti await adoption.  It is a scandal.
 
The administration’s response is another scandal.  So far it has offered a single speech featuring the Secretary of State’s bizarre claim at the prayer breakfast that she cleared the red tape 15 years ago for Mother Teresa to set up an adoption ministry in the District of Columbia.  The ministry is defunct.  The nuns sold the house in which it operated eight years ago. 
 
According to WORLD magazine, which broke the story, it’s “unclear” if adoptions ever took place and, ultimately, the red tape Clinton bragged about clearing to set up the ministry also set it up for failure.  In the words of WORLD’s report:  “The adoption ministry failed to take off because the Roman Catholic nuns who ran it weren’t allowed to care for babies without medical personnel on site.” 
 
Meanwhile, in Haiti itself, it seems red tape tripped up well-meaning missionaries who now face criminal charges for their efforts.  And the result of Haiti’s shameful response has been to terrify relief workers who have largely stopped sending Haitian children for emergency surgery to the United States.  The Associated Press says the case of the missionaries “charged with kidnapping for trying to take 33 children out of Haiti without permission was impeding the evacuation of critically injured youngsters to the U.S.” 
 
One expert says, "Pilots are very reluctant to take off from the United States and take back children without the proper papers," and, "That fear has been exacerbated by the kidnapping case, and now they're just paralyzed," and, “The evacuation of eight critically injured children in all has been held up … but obtaining identity papers after a catastrophic quake can be impossible.”
 
Excuse me, but can someone please give missionaries the “permission” they need to rescue children?  Will we really let it be so impossible to get “identity papers after a catastrophic quake” that children won’t get emergency surgery?  Here’s a good place for the secretary of state to focus her energies.  A foreign country – renowned for corruption – in a disaster situation can’t or won’t clear the paperwork for adoptions, rescues and emergency surgeries for children.  Madam Secretary, clear this red tape.  Stop bragging about defunct 15-year-old projects and do something.
 
It is a legitimate criticism of people of faith that too often we prefer to pray and end up doing nothing.  Others tend to take action without prayerful consideration.  We do not know if the missionaries facing trial fell for the latter temptation, but it is without question that the administration has utterly failed to solve the problem, whether or not anyone over there is spending much time in prayer.  The red tape is not only preventing adoptions, but also emergency surgeries for children.  It is appropriate to pray about this, but it also well past time for Mrs. Clinton to act.
 
As for the concerns about sex trafficking, we remain convinced this crisis can be resolved without giving traffickers free rein.  Tens of thousands of children in Haiti cry out for adoption.  Missionaries are responding, but the red tape is grinding it all to a halt.  Here is a prime opportunity for Secretary Clinton to really fulfill her promises to Mother Teresa. 
 
Let the Haitian children be adopted.  Let them get their surgeries.  Work it out with Haiti.  And, while you’re at it, press Congress to pass the adoption tax credit legislation.  
 
Mrs. Nance is CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation's largest conservative women's organization.

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