France cautious on Haiti's adopted children
France stops short of ordering the immediate evacuation of children who are in the midst of being adopted by French parents for fear it will be accused of ‘kidnapping’.Paris – France defended Tuesday its hesitation to speed adopted children from the earthquake wreckage of Haiti, as other countries have done, saying it did not want to be accused of "kidnapping".
Belgium and Spain followed the United States and The Netherlands in announcing they were fast-tracking repatriation of children adopted in Haiti, where there are shortages of water and food after last week's huge quake.
France said it was prioritising aid to children left homeless and that those for whom the adoption procedure was completed would be brought to France, although it stopped short of ordering their immediate evacuation.
"Even with the good pretext of saving children... we must not be accused of kidnapping," France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told parliament.
Kouchner said 130 adopted children in Haiti, out of 528 on a government list, would however "come to France very quickly since the formalities will be greatly speeded up."
In a sensitive case for France in 2007, six members of a French aid charity were convicted of trying to traffic to France 103 Chadian children whom they said were refugees from the war in Darfur.
Adoption group Adoption sans Frontieres criticised the government's measures for the adopted Haitian children as "insufficient", and said all the children should be brought to France immediately.
French parents could not always provide documentation to prove their adoptions were complete because the certificates were in Haiti and it was unlikely they could be obtained soon, said its president Nadine Bihore.
"We are demanding the repatriation of all children who have been assigned parents, whatever stage their case has got to," she told AFP.
Christine Vigneresse, a French woman in the process of adopting a three-year-old girl from Haiti, said about 40 children chosen by French families were stranded in a Port-au-Prince orphanage.
"We are not abductors of children, but people who have already taken steps with the Haitian authorities to carry out these adoptions," said Vigneresse, who called on Paris to remove bureaucratic hurdles to completing the adoptions.
Authorities in Belgium said Tuesday the country was moving to speed up adoptions of 14 Haitian children dating back to before the quake, "even if the procedure is not yet finished."
The Netherlands Monday sent a plane to Haiti to fetch around 100 children being adopted there by Dutch families. Spain also said it had sped up the paperwork for those have completed the adoption process.
AFP / Expatica