Nightly News   |  January 25, 2010

Weighing what’s best for Haiti’s children

Jan. 25: After an outpouring of support for Haiti’s children, UNICEF is trying to temper the emotional response to adoption, saying it’s best to make sure children stay with their families. NBC’s Ron Allen reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. americans and others around the world have poured their hearts out after the disaster in haiti . there are new numbers out showing the scope of the event and the need that still remains . the earthquake has left a million people without adequate shelter. one international agency said today there's an immediate need right now for 100,000 tents. and haiti 's government today asked an international confidence for $3 billion to rebuild. a job they say could take up to ten years. again tonight, our team on the ground has the story covered headed up by ron allen in port-au-prince. good evening?

>> reporter: we're in one of the many tent camps here, where people are living next to nothing. the focus here now is no longer trying to find survivors in the rubble. the focus is on recovery and rebuilding. today haiti 's leaders said it would take billions to rebuild. shelter has become the most pressing need. today also new concerns about possible exploitation of haiti 's children. unicef said it's investigating reports of children separated from their families being sold for labor or sex. the agency is trying to temper the emotional response to the heartwarming stories of americans bringing haitian orphans home, some 360 since the quake. unicef has long questioned whether international adoption is a good option.

>> we are very concerned, because trafficking is taking place in this sort of situation. when there is no more control at the airports and at the borders.

>> reporter: unicef works with orphanages after disasters, trying to verify that each child up for adoption can't be reunited with a family and is indedan orphan. this is a difficult situation, we are trying to regulate the process. the u.s. works too. they have stopped adoptions from guatemala and vietnam because of fraud and abuse. at this children's home, older children take care of younger ones. later in life, many head back to their communities, no adoptions.

>> i think if we can keep kids in haiti and look after them the way they deserve, that's going to be the best thing for haiti 's future.

>> reporter: mike's christian mission has brought children to the united states . an adoptive father himself with twins born here, now hopes to get 30 more out.

>> if all children could stay in their home country and get the basic provisions of life, food, water and a place to sleep, then they probably should. but in haiti , that's not the case.

>> reporter: a heart-wrenching dilemma after the earthquake, what is the correct response? so many records are lost under the rubble. but it could mean another 200 children or so heading to america. brian?

>> ron allen in port-au-prince tonight, starting us off. perhaps you're