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Two years ago, a Christian couple from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, fell in love with an abandoned toddler, born with a disability and living in an orphanage in rural Haiti. Already adoptive parents of a Liberian child, Katy and Josh Manges decided to adopt the toddler, Malachi, who has a treatable bone disorder.

Then the January 12 earthquake that crushed so much of Port-au-Prince, costing an estimated 230,000 lives, put the prayerful plans of the Manges family in limbo. It also laid bare before the world how badly orphans and vulnerable children may be treated when they get caught up in red tape, corruption, and political correctness.

For the Manges family, the outcome was success. In late February, Malachi arrived in Miami into the welcoming arms of his new family. Yet the adoption required two years of effort, delayed by local politics and requiring a personal signature from Haiti's prime minister. At the last minute, rioters at Port-au-Prince's airport derailed Malachi's departure, falsely alleging that he and other adoptees had phony paperwork.

This episode stands alongside another, the still-unfolding saga of the Idaho Baptists who were arrested on suspect charges of child trafficking. The latter may have a long-lasting chilling effect on inter-country adoption just when adoptive parents are needed more than ever. There are 210 million orphans worldwide, and adoptions to the U. S. have dropped 45 percent since 2004.

The greater problem isn't with potential adopting parents. It's with a system that is severely broken. Christian leaders and churches have much to offer in advocating for the reform of confusing adoption laws, stronger enforcement of international norms, and making adoption more affordable, more visible, and ...

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April 2010

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