Orphans In Your Own Backyard

The story of the Haitian orphans has moved the people of western Pennsylvania. It has rallied them to action. It has made many open up their wallets and now, their homes.

I spoke with directors at two local adoption agencies today who told me that have been inundated with phone calls inquiring about adopting the Haitian orphans who have either been brought back by the McMutrie sisters or are still in Haiti looking for homes.

While the generosity displayed is no doubt sincere, it does make one wonder why doesn’t charity begin here at home? Why don’t more people offer to adopt the thousands of children in this state? There are 1800 children in Allegheny county alone who need homes? Today, I went after the answer to that vaery question.

Prior to the earthquake, adoption agencies like the Children’s Home and the Three Rivers Adoption Council say they had gotten a few inquiries daily but nothing like the deluge that hit them after the Haiti orphans story started making the rounds. UPMC Chief of Psychology Paul Friday says it’s those images that have led to such intense interest in adopting the orphans. He says, for many, the desire is emotional. Think about it. You probably know someone who said out loud that they wanted to adopt one of the orphans after watching the coverage.

Pittsburgh has opened its arms to the Haitian orphans. Will this lead to residents opening their doors to its own children looking for families?

Directors at both adoption agencies tell me there are many children right here who are in need of love, attention and homes  and the children are readily available. Children’s Home adoption director Connie Back told me African-American infants are available almost immediately after you complete the training and background checks which take about four months. For those who want a Haitian orphan, if you put that child next to an African-American child, there is virtually no difference in their life experience  except one has been through an earthquake. Both understand pain. Both have experienced loss. Both know life without a family.

It’s clear no place has a bigger heart than the people of  Pittsburgh. Thats been made clear by the outpouring of support and love for the displaced children of Haiti. Those orphans will be taken care of and be raised in good homes. Count on it. While we look outward, it was clear from my interviews today that looking inward was also a dire need. 20,000 children in Pennsylvania need a family and need a home.

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