I found that in Haiti, children are often separated from their families and placed in orphanages in exchange for medical treatment or food. Once children are in the orphanage, adoption is unfairly used as a bargaining tool, and mothers are promised that their child will have a better life or may even come back to support them one day. Children may also be placed for adoption without their family’s knowledge or consent, and once they leave the country, they are often lost to their families forever. Separated by geography and language, an adoptee may never find their way back to their family.
I wondered how I could I make sure another mother would not lose their child to a system that is so quick to offer a permanent solution to a temporary problem. My research led me to Haitian Families First, an organization that focuses on family preservation. According to their website, the organization “runs programs that provide medical, nutritional and educational support to help Haitian families remain together and create a self-sufficient future.” I recently I had the opportunity to interview Ali McMurtrie, one of the founders. Ali shed some light on what makes HFF different from other non-profit organizations in Haiti and how she and her sister are working hard to put families first.