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Guest Blog: Too Many Babies in a Bed

Guest blogger, Mae Claire, from So Life Goes On, shares the hapless experience most paper orphans encounter. This story exhibits how paper orphans are a form of trafficking and how these humans are born with no human rights. We all deserve the right to our records and be treated like a human! Please note this is her realistic fiction blog and we all have our own voice to share, please respect the story she has chosen to share with us. Thank you :)

Her tiny eyes squint as the sun’s bright rays pierce through the make-shift window above her bed. “If only mom had tied the long daddy shirt a bit tighter on the other end, the sun would not wake me” her innocent mind thinks to herself.

Her long arms, the length of a standard three month old Haitian baby stretch horizontally as her beautiful “just-woken up” legs reach upwards towards the sky.

Another day for this child who is one-third of nine months. On her very left lay another soul, and if she were to move her precious head to her right, she would see another small human staring back at her.

Three babies in this bed under the window where the sun’s glare and heat are not forgiving.

The pungent smell of urine permeates the radius of the babies. The last time they had their diapers changed was two days ago. A faint dark cylindrical cloud can faintly be seen encircling the three small homosapians who had no choice in the matter.

Laying on their backs they realize it is time to wake up.

There were only four women who would care for them. All 60 of them. Three, four and sometimes even five to a bed would kick and scream, and yawn, and whine ...and stretch. Only to be reminded they would not be held. Not today, not tomorrow ...not until the papers were finished and they were on a plane to God only knew.....but their mothers didn’t.

But they had moms. All of them. Even dads. They learned to self-soothe.

Once the papers were filed and approved, maybe they would get lucky and be sent to a home where they would be carried, hugged and kissed. Maybe the people taking them would look like them.

Maybe their moms would come back to get them....if they knew they would be lost forever.

Paper orphans are children who are in fact not orphans but are created into orphans through a number of ways.

Parents who are too poor to care for their kids will place them in a home or an orphanage where the children will receive food, care and even an education. This institution was never initially created to give kids to others. Think of it as a boarding school, a place where middle and highschoolers live and attend school while their parents are going about their business. Like a boarding school, an orphanage has a purpose. To house and educate. But orphanages have turned into corrupt places where mothers and other family members are coerced into leaving their kids.

Too often the pull is alluring.

“My child will be fed. Well, I don’t have money to feed her right now so it will be a good thing.”

A childcatcher will approach the home and make empty promises they very well know they can’t keep.

“They will return to you. You know...when they are 18. They will come back. They will go to school and come back and help you pay for your home, or for the other kids in the home. Just sign here” a short balding religious man with strong facial expressions will say while handing her a pen.

It looked as if he was uneasy at the task at hand.

“She will come back to me. I want the best for my daughter. This is the best” she replays in her head as she takes the pen from his hand and applies it to a document she is incapable of reading.

He has already reassured her of the legitimacy of the document and because of her low literacy acquisition, she marks the “sign here” section with an “X”. A thumbprint was not available as the ink would cost money to obtain. So an “X” had to suffice.

As tears roll down her face, he reaches for the baby who is still clutched to her breast.

“It must be a quick break...otherwise there will be tears” he says in a hurried tone. Sobbing inconsolably she asks “can I come and visit her...bring her toys....give her kisses at night?”

“We don’t want her to be dependent...” he responds.

“But....but...I’m her mom.”

“Yes....this is best for the baby” he says, ignoring her need to know if she will be reunited.

He asks her for a couple diapers, her only baby bottle, and the white baby blanket having only a 140 thread count; not warm enough for a baby of that size.

Paper orphans is another form of trafficking. They can be created in several different ways and this mother does not know her child will soon be exported to another country, like goods meant to be devoured. Her child has just been repurposed and not only will she suffer great loss and pain, but her child may wonder for the rest of her life why those papers were signed in the first place.

The feeling of abandonment, the difficulty to attach, and the possible repercussions of initial trauma and loss will be present.

Children who have orphan status through falsified documentation have been documented through Nepal, Cambodia, Ghana and Uganda.

Children who are lost on the streets can be picked up and deemed “orphans” if a family member does not claim them. Uncles, Aunts, and other family members can sell a baby to an orphanage for a small amount of money just to make rent.

Poverty should NEVER be reason enough for a mother to lose her child. Illiteracy should not be taken advantage of; greed and lies have destroyed the very essence of life.

Poverty has created adoptees who live with more questions than answers, it has risen the rate of suicide, put money into the pockets of wealthier people, and justified the separation of mother and baby. According to Katherine Van Doore’s research article Paper Orphans: Exploring Child Trafficking for the Purpose of Orphanages, there are an estimated eight million children residing in orphanages, or residential care facilities, globally and it is estimated that four out of five of these children are not orphans. It is well documented that many of these children are taken from their families by recruiters and sold into orphanages for the purpose of profit.

Things have gotten so bad that Friends International launched a “Don’t Create More Orphans” campaign which confronts the issues of this profit driven business. The main question they all have is, “where are the orphans coming from?”

There are plenty of organizations working to stop the creation of paper orphans.

Reunite, an organization based in Uganda works to reunite families who have been wrongfully separated by adoption. Keren Riley, Executive Director and founder says “currently we are battling to try and get seven children back to their families that have been wrongfully adopted. Outside of that, we are continuing to follow up with the children we have resettled. We work with the government, different agencies, help with education, and advocate for the mothers who have lost their children while also trying to document a lot through photography so that we have some kind of visual timeline of these children’s resettlement.”

Tara Livesay, a midwife working and living in Haiti, keeps families together upon the birth of the child. Her organization, Heartline Ministries, focuses on mothers and babies and making sure they are birthed properly and have the proper care, support and resources for mothers.

Tara says “I’m not an expert on every materially poor country and I’m not an expert on the one I’ve lived in for 14 years but I have been in and around the orphanage business and the adoption industry for 17 years now and its important to note that 85% of the more than 200,000 kids living in orphanages have one or two KNOWN and living parents.”

Located in the heart of Port au Prince Haiti, Heartline Ministries include an Education Program, a Maternity Center/Prenatal Program/Maternal Health Clinic, Early Childhood Development classes, a student sponsorship program and the Beltis Bakery and Education program. All of these programs aim to keep families together and in tact.

“But what about all the orphans the churches are talking about.” You may ask. Simple answer. The definition of orphan in the western usually “white” world is subject to interpretation. According to Unicef, over 80% of children in orphanages are not orphans at all and the difference in terminology can have concrete implications for policies and programming for children which leaves parents forever trying to understand what happened to their children.

As she hyperventilates, she hands all the baby item requests to the balding man.

“I should have asked him to tell me what the document said again” she thinks to herself.

“What does it say again....???” she makes out before he slams the white van door in her face.

“The paper....what does it say again?” She yells as the van peels away. The van’s loud, and unstable speed on the bumpy road masks his response as he pushes out one last line that means nothing to her...but everything to his pockets.

“This is the best for the baby”

She buries her face in the palm of her hands while onlookers watch as she rocks back and forth to the tune of “Row Row Row Your Boat.....”

Nothing about this encounter was gentle and now there are too many babies in a bed.

Mae Claire, author, mother, wife, adoption education advocate, and lover of knowledge is the creator of Lifting Taboos on FB and Instagram, and her blog As an adoptee she feels her responsibility is to properly educate the public about adoptees and how they exist in a world that attempts to tell them how they should be thinking, feeling, and doing with their “gift” of adoption. Her most recent book The Perks Of Being An Adoptee focuses on 10 issues most adoptees have in common and her comic take on these issues (that would otherwise be null) will catapult adoptees into connections they didn’t think they had, needed, or maybe even wanted. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook and reach out to let her know you are listening.

If you are interested in sharing your story, please contact Adoption Reunion Search & Support here.


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