Haiti – Part Two: I’d Like to Punch Those Idaho Idiots

…but first I would like to punch the woman who came into my office this week and said, “How many of those little Haitian babies do you want? My god, they are beautiful. Every one of them. I just can’t get over it. And they look so clean.”

Idiot. Seriously, I wanted to punch her in the face. I told my friend Chris, who responded, “As if the world is our own little cabbage patch…”

Now on to the Idaho idiots I want to punch: If you haven’t seen it on the news, ten Idaho Baptists went to Haiti, gathered up 33 children, and tried to take them across the border into the Dominican Republic without any paperwork. They have since been charged with child kidnapping and criminal conspiracy.

When I read the news as it broke on January 31st, I thought their motives were at the very least paternalistic and misguided. First, now is not the time to speed up adoptions from Haiti. Second, I don’t agree with their mission to convert those poor little voodoo babies (please note dripping sarcasm). Their website (since taken down) said “NLCR [New Life Children’s Refuge] is praying and seeking people who have a heart for God and a desire to share God’s love with these precious children, helping them heal and find new life in Christ.”

Then I read more. Their “Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission” was really meant to recruit children for international adoption. They had learned that there is a 60-90 day required residency period in the DR for adoptive parents, so they came up with a solution. Their website outlined their plans to build an orphanage in the DR, along with a seaside resort and restaurant that catered to American adoptive parents:

Future Buildings and Plans for NLCR in Magante

  • Nueva Vida Refugio de Ninos: Provide a loving Christian home‐like environment for up to 200 children, both boys and girls, initially focused on ages 0 ‐ 10 years old, later expanding to include teens up to age 16.
  • Nueva Vida Escuela Cristiana: Provide a solid education for children in the refuge as well as in the local community if have sufficient space/resources. Plan to begin with PreSchool/ Kindergarten up to 6th grade, teaching English/Spanish, Reading, Math, Science, History, Geography, Health, Music/Art, as well as Christian values/truths. Plan to add higher grades and courses on vocational skills when needed.
  • Nueva Vida en Christo Capilla: On site Chapel for the children from the refuge and the community
  • Sick Bay/Medical care: for incoming children that are in need minor medical care
  • Greenhouse/Livestock: Provide for nutritional needs of the children by growing fruits and vegetables and raising cows/chickens for milk and eggs
  • Seaside Villas at Playa Magante*: Villas for adopting parents to stay while fulfilling requirement for 60‐90 day visit as well as Christian volunteers/vacationing families…
  • Seaside Café at Playa Magante*: small beachfront restaurant serving the community and adopting parents

I read even more. I learned that most of the children they were spiriting away to the DR were not even orphans. Though the group’s leader told officials the children were from a collapsed orphanage, it turns out they scoured a hillside village with a flyer of their new paradise resort, complete with color photos of the swimming pool, convincing parents to give up their children

I read more. I said to some friends early on that I thought it pretty unrealistic for the Idaho Ten to be ignorant of Haitian laws since they had researched the laws of the Dominican Republic, and knew about that pesky 60-90 day waiting period. A day or so later, my thoughts were confirmed. I learned that they knew their actions were illegal. The Wall Street Journal reported:

New light was shed on the early activities of the missionaries by Anne-christine d’Adesky, a writer and human-rights activist from a prominent Haitian family who is a U.S. citizen. She emailed several U.N. authorities and said she met Laura Silsby, the leader of the American group, on Jan. 24 in a hotel in the Dominican Republic.

Ms. Silsby said her authorization to collect Haitian orphans and bring them to the Dominican Republic was from an unnamed Dominican official, according to Ms. d’Adesky’s email. “I informed her that this would be regarded as illegal even with some ‘Dominican’ minister authorizing, since the children are Haitian,” Ms. d’Adesky wrote, adding that she directed Ms. Silsby to U.N. agencies helping the Haitian government handle orphans and adoptions. In a telephone interview, Ms. d’Adesky said she recalled Ms. Silsby’s response: “We have been sent by the Lord to rescue these children, and if it’s in the Lord’s plan we will be successful.”

Ms. d’Adesky also told the U.N. officials that Ms. Silsby had planned to bring children back to the Dominican Republic on Jan. 25, four days before the group was arrested. She therefore urged the U.N. officials to “check on the orphanage” in the Dominican Republic because children might have been brought there before the group was arrested.

The next day the Wall Street Journal reported further evidence that The Ten knew their actions were illegal:

Carlos Castillo, the Dominican Republic’s consul general in Port-au-Prince, said in an interview that he met with the group’s leader, Laura Silsby, on Friday at the consulate in the Haitian capital and told her she lacked the documents to transport children.

She told Mr. Castillo she had applied to Dominican authorities for a permit to cross the border, he said. But Mr. Castillo checked and found no such application. “I told her I could authenticate Haitian documents but she had no Haitian documents of any sort,” said Mr. Castillo. “She told me she would try to reach the border in order to cross. I told her not to do that without the necessary documents because she could be accused of trafficking children.”

Mr. Castillo said that at the border Ms. Silsby showed Haitian authorities his business card and said he had authorized her to cross. Border authorities called him and he denied it.

Steve Hersey, director of the Quisqueya Christian School in Port-au-Prince, said by email that he told Ms. Silsby’s group that their plan was “unconscionable” when they approached the school looking for help. He added, “It was clear they had little understanding of Haiti law and customs.”

I read more, and became further disgusted, when I learned that the group’s leader has had financial and legal troubles. The Idaho Statesman reported:

But even before Laura L. Silsby and seven other Idahoans ended up in a Haitian jail accused of trafficking in children, Silsby had a history of failing to pay debts, failing to pay her employees and failing even to follow Idaho laws.

Silsby has been the subject of eight civil lawsuits and 14 unpaid wage claims. The $358,000 Meridian house at which she founded her nonprofit New Life Children’s Refuge in November was foreclosed upon in December. A check of Silsby’s driving record revealed at least nine traffic citations since 1997, including four for failing to provide insurance or register annually.

Kind of makes it seem like she had reason to want to start a new “business” huh?

To be fair, I think nine of The Ten probably were clueless do-gooders in all of this. That’s even what the lawyer for all of the defendants, including Silsby, is saying. CBS news reports:

…the lawyer for all the defendants is putting the blame on the group’s leader.

Attorney Edwin Coq said Laura Silsby knew the group couldn’t remove the youngsters without proper paperwork, while he characterized the other nine missionaries as unknowingly being caught up in actions they didn’t understand.

“I’m going to do everything I can to get the nine out. They were naive. They had no idea what was going on and they did not know that they needed official papers to cross the border. But Silsby did,” Coq said Thursday after a magistrate charged the 10 at a closed hearing.

Honestly, I’m pleasantly surprised that the Haitian government filed charges. I really thought they would bow to pressure from the US to release The Ten. I think charges against those nine will eventually be dropped, but I hope they stick it to Laura Silsby. I hope she is punished, and I hope it sends an example to other child traffickers.

 (UPDATED: See Robin’s blog and comment below. Maybe Laura Silsby is not the only one to blame!)

 

** On this same topic, I found a really interesting blog. See parts one and two of “Kidnapping (Even For Christ) Is A Crime.” **

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24 thoughts on “Haiti – Part Two: I’d Like to Punch Those Idaho Idiots

  1. Thanks Robin. Very interesting. Pastor Drew doesn’t look so innocent, huh? And neither does the church.

  2. Oh yes, love the people who say such wonderful things about those cute little Haitian babies that we should be adding to our collections. I like the Cabbage Patch comment from Chris. Seriously.

    The whole situation just makes me livid. I haven’t stopped being angry since I first heard about a Christian group in the states recruiting families to be adoptive parents for children who were supposedly being airlifted to the states, and then since the Silsby situation. I’m not surprised, but that doesn’t make it any less horrifying.

  3. I would never defend anyone who is trying to bypass any country’s adoption laws and this woman was definitely trying to do just that. And trying to say that she is doing God’s work is disgusting. No true Christian would balk the law ans try to remove kids from their parents under false pretenses. Silby deserves to be jailed for a long time. She obviously believes the rules don’t apply to her.

    • It’s been brewing for a while, but I haven’t had the energy to write it all out. I knew it would take a long time, so it took me a while to finally sit down at the computer to do it. These people make me so angry! I literally want to punch them.

  4. Here’s more incriminating info on the church’s involvement Tracy, while New Life Chidren’s Refuge certainly did not have tax exempt status as claimed on the flier, West Valley Baptist surely did and was soliciting money on January 30 to be run through their own non-profit church.

    http://myweb.cableone.net/rmarler/Haitian%20Orphan%20Rescue%20Mission.htm

    HOW YOU CAN HELP!!!
    Urgent and Immediate Needs

    Finances:

    *
    Support the Temporary Orphanage in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
    *
    Support a Response Team to Dominican Republic $1500.00 each

    Both of these are tax deductable donations that need to be given through
    Central Valley Baptist Church. Write on the Memo Line: Haitian Orphans.

    Also note that eight of those in the Haiti jail signed a note saying they had been lied to by Laura Silsby, INCLUDING Carla Thompson, who if you look on the side bar is the mission coordinator for the church. Wouldn’t SHE be the one responsible for this “mission” if the church was involved which they most definitely are?

    • I had seen the report that eight of the ten were trying to separate themselves from Silbsy and Coulter.

      Did you also see that their lawyer has been fired for trying to bribe their way out. This story just gets more incredible.

      Also, check out this post: http://steppingonlegos.com/blog/baptists-child-trafficking-in-haiti/. It’s incredible that a Baptist ETHICIST is trying to tell President Obama that these people should be let go because the church gives Haiti money. Make a donation, get a get-out-of-jail-free-card.

    • Robin-

      I just read this on that link you sent me, under prayer requests:

      “For God to continue to grant favor with the Dominican Government in allowing us to bring as many orphans as we can into the Dominican Republic”

      There’s nothing about prayers to the Haitian government for their “favor” because they knew they didn’t have it! They SO knew this was wrong!!!!

  5. I have known several people who pull out the “Jesus told me to” defense in order to justify something they knew was wrong but were determined to do anyway. To a person, these losers have been easily influenced, delusional low achievers, who are desperate for one glorious act that will validate their existence. Having experienced the intelligence level of this particular brand of “do-gooder”, I could almost find 9 of these people pitiable – just a tiny bit of sympathy, not enough that their actions are completely excused. Ms. Silsby, however, is in a class by herself and deserves no mercy whatsoever. I hope she is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    As for the person in your office…I have no words. I’ll gladly hold her down while you deliver the mother of all punches.

    • Susan-

      Eight of the ten passed a note yesterday to NBC asking for help and saying that they were mislead. The note did not include the names of Silsby or her nanny, Charisa Coulter, who was also supposed to be intricately involved in this operation. Looks like they’ve finally realized that they were duped. Too bad it’s a bit too late.

      • I do feel badly for those who were misled, but they allowed themselves to be misled. Really, how smart do you have to be to know you should, at the very least, check the laws before you leave your own country to drag children that are not yours across a border? They acted out of naivete and willingness to believe anything with a crucifix attached, but that doesn’t make their actions any less illegal.

  6. Guess what?! The Catholic diocese of the Dominican Republic was who they leased their “hotel” from for their temporary “orphanage”!!

    http://www.listin.com.do/app/article.aspx?id=130627

    It’s in Spanish so if you don’t read Spanish run it through google translate.

    Seeing as how Catholocism is the denomination of most Haitians (even though they also practice Voodoo right along with Catholocism) I sure do find it ironic that they leased their temporary home from the Catholic diocese!

  7. I have been a little offended by friends who have said, “I’ve been thinking about you when I see all those Hatian kids”. I thought I was being too sensitive, but now I see others feel the same way.
    As a Christian woman, it makes me sad and angry that these folks are dragging Christians through the mud like this. It makes us look like idiots at best, if not liars and hypocrites.

  8. If this report from CNN is true, it kind of shoots the “I was duped” defense all to pieces.

    Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) — The American missionaries in Haiti facing kidnapping charges for trying to take 33 children out of the country last week made an earlier, unsuccessful attempt at taking dozens of other children, a Haitian police officer said.

    The officer did not want to be identified for fear of reprisals. He told CNN on Monday that he had stopped the 10 Baptist missionaries, including group leader Laura Silsby, on January 26 as they tried to transport 40 children from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.
    http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/02/09/haiti.border.arrests/?hpt=T2

  9. Tracy,
    Here’s a really good article worth reading
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35262608/ns/world_news-haiti_earthquake/

    In particular this paragraph:

    Schaaf, who is back in the States and spends his spare time running a nonprofit consultancy called Haiti Innovation, derided missionaries who lack understanding or respect for Haitian culture and treat the country as their “spiritual sandbox.”

    Pastor Drew (Culberth) wrote :

    Second, natural disasters remind us that the penalty
    of sin is a plague that effects us all. The question is
    not, “Why did this happen in Haiti?” The question
    should rather be asked, “Why did this not happen to
    me?” We tend to think of ourselves as good people
    who deserve the best. The reality is that we are
    sinners deserving of death and hell.

    Third, natural disasters remind us that we must
    repent and be reconciled to God. We were created
    for a relationship with the Almighty God, shouldn’t we
    seek to be rightly restored?

    Fourth, natural disasters should challenge us in our
    mission. Again, life is short. People are dying and
    going to hell. Preach the gospel!
    ****************************************
    Paul Thompson wrote on his blog:

    I’m not responding in a simple humanitarian mindset so that when the call comes for Utah/Idaho Southern Baptist Disaster Relief to respond I will be ready, and that the greater need than what every picture reports is the great need of salvation is foremost in my mind.
    ********************************************
    Pastor Clint of West Valley Baptist wrote:

    The other is the Haitian Orphan Rescue being spearheaded through our local church.As early as next week, we will have a brand new ministry opportunity located in theDominican Republic. Pray for our team
    that is sacrificing in every way to be there. Pray for their physical safety and their emotional well-being.

    These ministry opportunities are but a small way to help fight for life…a battle that every Christian must engage in. The future of our culture is at stake!
    **************************************888
    Pastor Drew and Paul Thompson (pastor of Eastside Baptist) are both in Haiti. Pastor Clint has been crying for his team.

    This is my point, the zeal to save souls on the part of these MALE leaders in this venture just meshed with Laura Silsby’s racket. Now you see these MALES embarrassed, how could they have been duped by this devious woman.
    They weren’t duped by anything, they had their own agenda. Were it not for Laura Silsby’s lack of attention to details they would have gotten EXACTLY what they wanted. The only “sign from God” was ironically her actions getting them stopped.

    The haunting sights of those poor children and what was done to them. Now in court today the parents who gave their children to them testified. The attorney for these arrogant missionaries is now claiming there was no crime committed. Blaming the victim, there just aren’t any words for this with a HAITIAN attorney (talk about no ethics) claiming there was no crime when the parents were lied to and were so DESPERATE that they wanted their children to have food and the resort that was shown to them.

    I can’t find it right now but the Mirror had an article about the affects this had on the children. They wanted to go home.
    Their parents had given them away………..Some said they didn’t want to go home BECAUSE their parents had given them away.

    The only justice that could be meted out for these criminals would be to gag their mouths and put them to hard labor helping the families of these children. NO resort on the beach in the DR! I believe in the natural consequences approach of discipline. They should also all be forced to donate at least twice the amount of money to helping these families than what they were putting out to pay for their own crime and were GOING to put out in supporting the temporary housing in the Dominican Republic and THEIR mission opportunity. As for Pastor Clint, you have a new fundraising call to put out guy. Muster the troops and take RESPONSIBILITY for what you did! What a WOOS!

    If I hear one more person talk about their “good intentions” and they were just naive in following Silsby I’m going to puke. They were NOT naive, they were on a MISSION and Laura Silsby was their Achilles heel. They thought everything was GROOVY until they got CAUGHT using Haiti as their “spiritual sandbox”

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