...the group's leader, Laura Silsby, knew she couldn't remove the youngsters without proper paperwork, but he characterized the other nine missionaries as unknowingly being caught up in actions they didn't understand.The news report also points out that many of the children were not orphans, but were promised better lives by the "missionaries".
It gets more confusing. Religion Dispatches reports,
By disregarding even the most basic history of slavery, missions, or colonial activity in Haiti, their missionary impulse failed them miserably. With all of the missions already on the ground in Haiti, what made them think they could just take children out of the country? ....At what point does altruism become a sort of cultural hegemony? I feel sorry for these "missionaries", whom I 'm sure thought they were doing the right thing. And it's very regrettable that they have probably made it more difficult for real missionaries to work effectively. But I feel sorriest for the Haitian parents who thought that handing their children over to a group of Americans was their only option. No one should ever feel THAT.
If the New Life Group had really wanted to help these children, they could have done it right there on the spot, rather than going to the remote community of Calebasse and taking children into the Dominican Republic. Better yet, send money and stay home; let professionals handle the situation. It wasn’t as though Haiti was bereft of missions groups.
Moreover, the leader of New Life Children’s rescue, Laura Silsby, has had serious legal problems in the past, most recently losing the house she bought for the ministry to foreclosure at the end of 2009. The fact that neither of the churches involved with the missions group vetted her thoroughly before leading a missions trip will open them to lawsuits, above and beyond the legal fees and costs incurred from the current incarceration. Silby’s motives are also suspect in part because she seemed to realize what she was doing, stating in an interview on Monday that the group did not intend to offer the children for adoption. “We intended to raise those children and be with them their entire lives, if necessary,” she said. It also seems that a plan was in place for an orphanage long before the earthquake occurred.
...The real crux of the issue is this: these ten do-gooders walked into the trap many well-meaning white evangelical Christians fall into: those poor brown/black/yellow/red people need My help. Jesus wants Me to help them. To much of white American Evangelical Christianity, the We often means Me. It’s what God Called Me to do. It’s what God would want Me to do. The problem with the Me mentality of much of conservative Evangelical Christianity is that they often can’t see the We—the people of Haiti—who love their kids so much they’re willing to let some white people who claim to be “Christians” take them away to what they promise will be “a better life.”
The focus on Me takes away from the real ways that people in disasters can be helped without the insertion of well-meaning, clueless interlopers into their story. The New Life group is now finding out what living in an impoverished and earthquake-ravaged country is like. Perhaps now they will begin to understand what it means to live alongside the poor, as opposed to swooping into a disaster for a quick “feel-good Christian moment” designed to make them feel better about themselves.
Update See this Wall Street Journal article for the facts of the case.