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Haiti 'orphan' rescue mission: Adoption or child trafficking?

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Charlie Litchfield/Idaho Press-Tribune/AP

(Read caption) Clint Henry, head pastor at Central Valley Baptist Church in Meridian, Idaho, paused for a moment while taking questions from the media on Sunday.

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When does adoption become child trafficking?

That question seems to be the last thing that Haiti's notoriously ill-equipped, underfunded, and understaffed government needs to be tackling in the wake of the Jan. 12 earthquake that leveled the capital, Port-au-Prince. But Saturday's arrest of 10 members of an Idaho-based Baptist charity for trying to take 33 Haitian children across the border with the Dominican Republic without proper paperwork has become an international incident. And it now threatens to be a serious distraction from the daunting task of providing food, shelter, and security for the more than 1 million left homeless by the quake.

The members of the New Life Children's Refuge said that they were only trying to provide a better life for the children and denied that the group had done anything wrong. But the problem with following their highest sense of right without proper permission from the authorities is that it may technically be child trafficking. And in a weak country where that illicit trade has exploded in recent years, the authorities are taking this quite seriously.

Prime Minister Max Bellerive denounced the group’s “illegal trafficking of children.”

"This is an abduction, not an adoption," said Social Affairs Minister Yves Christallin, explaining that children need authorization from the ministry to leave the country.

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