Abused Florida Girl Awarded $26 Million

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Post by admin » Fri May 20, 2005 4:09 pm

[quote]I don't know if once adopted, a child can't be brought back to the agency, and the agency can't return the child back to her real parents.[/quote]

Michel, what rationalization could ever be used for that to happen? Unless there was foul play involved in the adoption proceedings, an adoption is meant to be final. There is no going back (except, as I mentioned, under extraordinary and extremely unusual situations.)

The real parents are the adoptive parents.

Once the adoption is final, the natural parents have no more rights to their offspring.

Furthermore, if the natural parents were abusive, the case should be thoroughly investigated. With sufficient evidence to support the abuse, the parents should be charged. If they fled to another country, an attempt should be made to have them extradited to the place where they committed the
crime (we are talking here however about bilateral agreements between nations, so this is a matter of high legal expertise). If arrested and surrendered to law and order, they should of course be tried. If found guilty, they should go to jail and otherwise pay their dues like any other criminals.

This is assuming of course that the allegations are true. I have no way of knowing. That is the obligation of the State and social agencies.

If the Stage agency in question is guilty of neglect (which unfortunately is not all that uncommon), they too should be sued of course.

The more interesting questions to me are:

1) What are the bilateral agreements between Haiti and the U.S. in criminal cases involving their citizens?

2) What must be done to insure that whatever punitive damages assessed in this case are truly spent to benefit the injured party? One has to be very careful with this one. Otherwise, a lot of people would be in search of abused kids in the hope of receiving m
illions of dollars in compensation for previous abuses. That would of course constitute exploitation of the worst kind.

Really, who is the money intended for? Is it the child, as compensation for the great abuses she received ($200,000 would seem wholly inadequate -- though obviously, the money has to come from somewhere)? Is it the adoptive parents, for the fact that they were misled by the State's social agency? Even after reading the articles, I am not clear on this issue.

The one thing I am certain about is that this unfortunate child deserves to be loved and given freely the very best medical care that she needs as a result of her physical and mental abuse, for as long as she needs it.

Her adoptive parents may need to be compensated as well, but I see this as a question of a different order.

Their first priority is to love that child. I hope they really do.

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Post by admin » Fri May 20, 2005 7:37 pm

Michel, you make some disparaging comments about Haitian society, and draw distinctions between lower class and intellectuals behaviors, without thinking twice it seems. I disassociate myself from those comments. I do not deny that corporal punishment was (and maybe still is) widely used in Haiti. However, there is practically no relation between the spankings most of us received as children and the vicious abuses that you relate, a case of which is the original subject matter of this thread.

Your comments are both unfair and untrue, in the general way that you describe them. There are abusers of children in every society. Frankly, some of the worst cases that I have heard in my life happened right here in the United States, and they were not done by Haitians.

Corporal punishment is a problem in Haitian society, but we do not need any hysteria and wild tales of child and spousal abuse, mixed
with macoute stories, to address the issue.

Furthermore, in every society, parents need to discipline their children when needed. If they do not, the children may never learn to expect unpleasant consequences for their misbehavior, and their first corporal punishment may be administered by an unfriendly policeman.

You came up with the topic of child abuse, which is an extremely serious subject and now you are going off topic, in a wild denunciation of our parents, grandparents, and the poor in Haiti. Leave me out of it.

The point of my comments was not just to be compassionate about "about this little Haitian girl, Moesha". Of course, she deserves compassion. However, I thought that I raised some questions of law, with respect to your earlier inquiry. I expected that the thread would continue in that vein, and not in the manner that you now choose to lead it. Please, give me a break. It's not the Haitian poor that are on the bench of the accused here. Most of them can be as compa
ssionate as the rest of us. Most of them know how to raise their kids fine, thank you. Haitian intellectuals do not need to feel superior.

I don't know what "intellectual" has to do with what you say. People behave differently according to the norms of their social environment. In the U.S., Haitians have had to learn to rely much less on spanking their children or they would have to suffer the consequences. In the schools, they teach children that they can call the police if they receive a beating from their parents. Some kids will not make the distinction between a spanking and a break-your-spine kind of situation. In some Haitian families, this has created a culture shock. A father who would normally spank his child for staying out too late, finds that he can no longer do so. Or if he does, and the child denounces him, the well-intentioned parent may find that he has to answer to the police or he may end up very unfortunately on a list of child abusers. But it is absolutely wrong not to make
the distinction between a child abuser and a man who wants to discipline his children on occasion. In any case, we have had to modify our behavior in U.S. society, I think for the better, in this particular case. But nobody needs to go college, to get a Ph.D., to read and write books, and do all other things associated with "being an intellectual" in order to have the basic intelligence necessary to make a cultural adjustment.

Michel, I received from my parents numerous spankings while growing up. Yet, I do not carry "the legacy of mistreatment" that you talk about. My parents were well-meaning and they loved me. I may not have deserved every spanking (there were also times that, lucky for me, I did things they have never found out). However, I am not about to disparage their tough love on the internet nor associate them to a category of criminal abusers in which they never belonged.

Your note betrays some common but quite unfortunate prejudices. I don't want to get personal, but that'
s exactly what I think. We can do better, I think.

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Post by admin » Sat May 21, 2005 12:31 pm

Once again, you are very quick at making class distinctions, Michel. When I say that people behave differently (and I did not use the term "uniformly") according to (or depending on) the norms of their social environment, I refer to the behavioral codes of their society. Since we were talking of Haiti and the United States, obviously the reference was made to the behavioral codes at the national level. Those behavioral codes are passed on through the media, through parenting, through religious authorities, through law enforcement, and many other sources. People who grow up in the ghetto are not deaf and dumb to the behavioral codes accepted by society at large. In the ghetto, children also go to school and they also go to church. In the ghetto, there are good parents also, not just pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and users.

To say that "this kid (of the ghetto) may end up being a doctor or engineer" is qu
ite an understatement, Michel. But it does not answer any argument of mine. You seem particularly obsessed with class behaviors, reserving the harshest judgements for the poor, in Haiti as in the States. You seem to forget that in the rich neighborhoods, there are also "pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and users". Sometimes, they just assume different titles. A prostitute may become "a desperate housewife". A drug user may be referred to as "a nice kid, who dabs in mood-enhancing substances for recreational purposes". A drug dealer may be the well-known "doctor" or "engineer", professions that are not incompatible with the activitities of drug dealing by the way.

I am not trying to idealize poverty or life in the ghetto. Poverty is a condition that most people try to avoid or to get out of, in spite of the fact that the Church teaches us that it is easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heavens. Living in the ghetto has some serious dra
wbacks too as one's life expectancy is measurably shorter in ghetto conditions than in rich neighborhoods. But you are missing the point, Michel. I am talking of cultural norms and behavioral codes at the national level. Every one knows, it's quite elementary really, that spanking a child is more accepted in Haiti than it is in the United States.

That cultural difference in itself does not make us Haitians the poster people for child abuse. As to the class distinctions that you keep raising ("We Haitian intellectuals", "the lower class members of the Diaspora", "black kid growing up in the ghetto", ...) you are on your own, really, Michel. I do not associate the poor with child abusers, pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers and users.

Anyway, we are quite off topic, aren't we?

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