The plan, described in an online fundraising appeal, was simple: “Drive bus from Santo Domingo into Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and gather 100 orphans from the streets and collapsed orphanages, then return to the DR.” A group of ten American missionaries collected thirty-three children (some of whom had living parents) after the January earthquake in Haiti, but they were stopped as they attempted to return to the Dominican Republic, where they planned to establish an orphanage.

Because the missionaries had neglected to get official permission to transport the children out of the country, Hatian authorities charged them with child abduction and jailed them. The prisoners’ families released a statement asking for leniency: “We are pleading to the Haitian prime minister to focus his energies on the critical tasks ahead for the country and to forgive mistakes that were made by a group of Americans trying to assist Haiti’s children.”

The Americans’ intentions may have been pure. Human trafficking, however, is a grievous problem in Haiti, and protecting children from exploitation was a “critical task” for the government even before the earthquake plunged the country into chaos. There have been calls for Haiti to lift restrictions on international adoptions in light of the greater number of children now...

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