There are more than 132,000,000 orphans worldwide. As a result of recent natural disasters in the United States and other countries, the number of orphans has increased. Recent events in the Gulf Coast in the United States, Haiti and Japan showed that thousands of children become separated from their parents or guardians when disasters strike. Family members were scattered during these tragedies. Many children were reunited with their families; but some children were sent to orphanages while others waited in classrooms for their family members to come for them. Many Haitian children were sent to foreign countries far from their homelands to be adopted by strangers who did not share their heritage or their culture. Professor David Smolin asked whether this rush to adopt Haitian children was “a humanitarian act of good will or a neo-colonialist child grab.” This article examines United States laws and international conventions, statutes, and guidelines that emphasize children’s rights and their family members’ rights which should be protected when a natural disaster occurs. It identifies specific children’s and family member’s interests, including pertinent social issues. To avoid unnecessary family separations in the future, the article calls for a universal plan of action that must be vetted, implemented and publicized expeditiously before the next disaster occurs.
Mabry, Cynthia R., "Emergency Alert: This is NOT a Test! An International Disaster Relief Plan for Protecting Children and Families" (2015). School of Law Faculty Publications. 2.