Feb 1, 2010 7:59 PM by Andy Koen

Arrests hamper legitimate adoption efforts

Ten Americans were arrested in Haiti on suspicion of child trafficking for allegedly trying to cross the Border into the Dominican Republic with 33 children.

All made court appearances on Monday, though no formal charges have yet been filed.

Their arrests are damaging efforts by other orphanages to help children in Haiti.

The Springs-based God's Littlest Angels has run an orphanage on the outskirts of Port au Prince for the past 20 years.

Jean Bell, US coordinator for the group says they are feeling the fallout from the arrests.

"It is frustrating, things had been moving fairly well before the earthquake, "fairly well" meaning the process was moving along. It was slow but we were getting kids out."

Bell says the Haitian government had already halted all new adoptions shortly after the earthquake. 

Her group had managed to move children who had already been going through the adoption process out of Haiti and connect them with their adoptive parents in the US.  

However, Bell says UNICEF is now blocking all children, orphaned or not, from leaving the tent cities of Port au Price,  even though she says her orphanage can easily care for hundreds.

"That's what they are there to prevent and that's what they should be doing, but they've been to our orphanage they know that our orphanage is ready to receive children and I think its wrong for them to be blocking these children."

Bell says she's worried more children will suffer until groups like here allowed more freedom in Haiti.

She doesn't expect the Haitian government to begin allowing adoptions for at least another 6 months to a year.


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