Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog announced Saturday the Ministry's intention to promote the adoption of Haitian orphans, and noted that many Israelis have already expressed willingness to join the effort.
However, Israeli aid organizations expressed uneasiness following the announcement, and claimed that despite the important moral gesture, there was a need to first find a solution to the thousands of foreign workers' children who are living in Israel without a regulated status, and with constant fear of deportation.
"We laud the moral decision to adopt Haitian children, but call on Israel's government to show the same compassion and humanity toward the 1,200 immigrant workers who live in Israel," founder of Israeli Children Organization Rotem Ilan told Ynet.
Surprisingly, the Israel National Council for the Child (NCC) also expressed its fierce objection. "Children of foreign workers and offspring of asylum seekers live under very dire conditions in Israel, while the government and Welfare Ministry refuses to address their issues," said Executive Director of the NCC Dr. Yitzhak Kadman in a conversation with Ynet.
According to Kadman, "It's good that Israel opens its heart to the hardship of children from the third world, but first it must take care of those that are already living among us."
Kadman warned that transferring orphans from Haiti to Israel might cause them great damage: "Although the intention shows good will and concern, it is the wrong solution. If there are resources that can be allocated to the children of Haiti – they should be allocated toward aiding them and their country.
Extracting children that have gone through major trauma to a far away country where they will be detached from their culture and extended families is a dire mistake," said Kadman.
Israelis willing to adoptThe adoption of children from Haiti, if indeed carried out, is dependent on the approval of The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). The organization's spokesperson said that they will first conduct thorough investigations in an attempt to locate the orphans' relatives – and only if those are not found – the children can be adopted.
"After we finish the process of reuniting families in Haiti, there are likely to be children left without a home, and we will be glad to assist the welfare authorities in Israel and in the other countries that wish to adopt," said Chairman of UNICEF Israel, attorney Muriel Matalon.
According to Matalon, "at this point we must act to locate and reunite families and only after all efforts have been exhausted, we can start to promote international adoption in accordance with the Hague Convention."
Orna Hirshfield, who is in charge of adoption services at the Welfare and Social Services Ministry said that even prior to Minister Herzog's announcement, the ministry received over 100 requests from families that showed an interest in adopting orphans from Haiti.
"The adoption process will begin only after potential parents go through parental adequacy testing, and the State of Israel settles the matter with Haitian authorities – a process that might take several months," she said.