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Child Trafficking Danger in Haiti

Aired January 29, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the children of Haiti need help now. Their lives were hard before the earthquake. After the disaster, it's hell on Earth -- orphaned, injured, desperate for bare necessities -- they are targets for human predators. They're vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse and exploitation and enslavement.

Can these children be protected?

Actor and activist Sean Penn joins us from Port-au-Prince.

Plus, how you can save a life. We'll give you all the information you'll need to help or even adopt these innocent kids.

It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Our subject tonight is children. There's nothing more important than that, the children of Haiti.

First, let's check in with Ivan Watson, our CNN correspondent in Port-au-Prince.

We understand there was some drama earlier today involving children at the airport on -- on a plane.

What happened?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're still trying to get to the bottom of this, Larry.

Basically, there was a plane. It was involving a group called the Utah Hospital Task Force. And we believe that it took off with about 69 orphans headed for Miami.

Some of the children that were being placed on board that plane, there appears to have been some mix-ups. About 16 of them actually had to be taken off and were not allowed to go. And some confusion about just where and how they should be going and traveling. A lot of bureaucracy to sort through, especially on this adoption issue -- Larry.

KING: And we're going to deal with it at length.

Is it getting any better, Ivan?

WATSON: There are signs of improvement. You know, the initial adrenaline and fear and agony and terror of those first days has subsided now. But now it's -- it's this really grueling struggle to just get by.

I just went to camp today and what's remarkable, Larry, seeing the 4,500 people living in this camp now start to build shelters, not just out of sheets and sticks, but they're putting together plywood. They're salvaging pieces of sheet metal and they're building little huts and also forming associations to try to organize...

KING: Yes.

WATSON: know, where to put the bathrooms in these areas, how to distribute water there. But they're saying they're really scared that if the rains come, Larry, that they're just going to be washed away. This is going to be breeding grounds for all sorts of diseases. They're desperate for tents right now -- Larry.

KING: Ivan Watson, our CNN correspondent on the scene in Port- au-Prince.

Joining us now, Sean Penn, the Academy Award winning actor and activist and co-founder of the Jenkins-Penn Haitian Relief Organization. Sean is in Port-au-Prince.

Joining us here in Los Angeles is entrepreneur Diana Jenkins. She is also co-founder of the Jenkins-Penn Haitian Relief Organization. She, by the way, lived in a refugee camp in Bosnia and has spent the past decade helping to rebuild that country.

Sean, our focus tonight is children.

What's your impression of what you've seen so far of the children of Haiti?

SEAN PENN, ACTOR: Well, it's a country of people that I think have been bullied by God in ways that are unimaginable for so many years and -- and in many ways, very new to me. It's my first -- first time here.

And there is -- the focus on children also has to be a focus on their parents -- those -- those that have parents. Orphanages are going to be needed, of course, as, you know, you -- your parents were in the home and the child was outside and then the child just left on the street. And that's true in tens of thousands.

It's -- but, also, because of its history, the children, the adults, everyone here has such a moving stoicism. There's -- there are people who are -- are so strong and so beautiful and so courageous that it's -- they're just so necessary to protect. We need people like this in the world.

KING: Diana Jenkins, you grew up in a Bosnian refugee camp and you've seen the refugee camps in Haiti.

Are they similar? DIANA JENKINS, JENKINS-PENN HAITIAN RELIEF ORGANIZATION: Well, I didn't -- I grew up in Bosnia. And during the war, I escaped. And then after, I lived in refugee camps.


JENKINS: It's different because this is the first time that I've seen an army that is helping people in disaster. And they're doing a great job. But the conditions are just unbearable. They're worse than anything I've ever seen.

KING: Worse than anything?

JENKINS: Anything I've ever seen, these camps. I -- I went -- I visited a camp. It was just 50,000 people. And we went through the tents. And every single child has some kind of injury, infection or broken bone.

KING: Sean, specifically, what does -- what does your organization, Jenkins-Penn Haitian Relief, do?

PENN: Well, we were formed very spontaneously. The -- I and a couple of friends were going to come down a couple of days after the quake. And I ran into Diana and she said, no, don't do it like that.. And she came in and fully funded a major operation. So I was able to go to Allison Thomson and Oscar Gubernati and some other volunteers, Dr. Rau Ruiz (ph).

And we were, with Diana, able to put together what is now rotations of approximately 30 doctors in our base camp. Every night, we've administered to about 7,000 patients. We have a water expert who's going out and distributing, at this point, 1,000 filters and another 3,000 on the way.

We have worked very closely with Colonel Mike Foster and Sergeant Keith Horn (ph), who have been -- who are truly exceptional men in the 82nd Airborne. And it has -- it has been such an experience working with these people.

And we've got the doctors in our -- in our group are tirelessly going out on what they call tailgating strikes with the military, where they go into camps, approximately six doctors at a time in the morning. We also do -- we have a trauma specialist who goes out and gathers enormous groups of children in the camps.

We've targeted two camps in particular at this point, one, the Petionville camp, which borders the military base and our base camp on the perimeter. And then also we have a kind of satellite camp that we're able, with the -- the size that our organization is now -- to administer food distribution.. So we did our first food distribution the other day to 1,800 people at the St. Theresa Camp.

KING: Wow!

PENN: And -- but we are -- what we're doing is we're trying to be very fluid and -- and -- and respond to a crisis that's almost in unrespondable to. When -- when we left, you know, I heard some very silly woman who said something, you know, well, it's got to be covered. It's -- you know, all of those organizations are in there.

Well, it's not covered at all. And the most dangerous thing is when you get into the practical reality, for example, for the military is when they call it second phase. And they do have to do that, because they -- it's a kind of triage sensibility. The second phase starts to turn a lot of the attention away, because the first phase, of course, are the immediate surgical needs, the immediate broken bones.

But then it's the -- it's the follow-up care. And what has -- what we're seeing now is a lot of cases of gangrene, a lot of cases of the wrong sorts of casts put on and -- and then all kinds of other follow-up things that are happening.

And -- and when the rains do -- do start, I -- I think that you can anticipate...

KING: Wow!

PENN: ...devastations on levels that none of us have ever seen.

KING: We'll take a break.

We'll ask Diana what she sees as the single greatest need for the children.

We'll also meet Kent Page, senior communications officer for UNICEF.

We'll be right back.


KING: Sean Penn remains with us.

So does Diana Jenkins.

Joining us is Kent Page, senior communications officer for UNICEF. Their Web site is

Our panel -- CNN's Christiane Amanpour interviewed the prime minister of Haiti earlier this week, asked him about the exploitation of the earthquake's youngest victims.



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST, CNN'S "AMANPOUR": And do you know for sure that children are being trafficked now?

JEAN-MAX BELLERIVE, PRIME MINISTER, HAITI: There -- there is children -- trafficking for children and adult persons, also, because they need all type of programs. So... AMANPOUR: No, but I mean live children.

Are they being trafficked now?

BELLERIVE: The report I received, yes.

AMANPOUR: So how are you going to -- who's helping you to -- to -- to stop this, to deal with this?

BELLERIVE: Mainly, I -- I'm trying to work with the ambassadors. Any child that is leaving the country has to be validated by the embassy and the (INAUDIBLE) that they give me, with all the reports. And the first thing they have to confirm to me that they were already confirmed.

AMANPOUR: Adoption papers were -- were legal and in (INAUDIBLE)...

BELLERIVE: Even if the -- all the process was -- was not completed, but there should be on the processes and they -- normally, they should have been in an orphanage and we know them and we know that they have no parents right now.


KING: You were saying -- telling me, Diana, how important the Americans -- the American Army has been.

JENKINS: Because I -- in Bosnia, I associated the army with killing. And in my life, they came too late, because I lost everything.

But when I got to Haiti and I've seen what the American Army has done, all I can say is God bless America and the American Army, because they work so hard. And the only sense of order that is there, I think it's them. And they are trying so hard to help, to distribute, to do anything they can to help these people.

KING: Kent, besides orphans, how many kids do we know have been separated from their families?

KENT PAGE, UNICEF: Well, the issue of children separated from their families or unaccompanied because of the earthquake is something that we're very concerned with here at UNICEF. We are working together with all our partners to identify and register the children that may be unaccompanied and separated. We are referring them if they are injured or need urgent medical care to hospitals. They are also being referred to interim care shelters, where they are provided a safe and protective environment.

We've brought recreation kits, education kits. We also have, at one of the shelters, a psychosocial counselor, who conducts psychosocial activities with the children. And most importantly, they're in a safe, protected environment. And then the family tracing and family reunification program will begin. At this time, we don't know how many children are separated from their parents. But with the government estimating that there's more than 150,000 people killed in this earthquake, one can assume that it's in the thousands.

KING: Sean, what happens when this story, as with all stories, what happens when it begins to fade, when other stories come in and the media is not there every day?

What happens to the kids?

PENN: Well, Larry, I got a -- an e-mail from your Dr. Sanjay Gupta when I was -- when he had heard that I was coming in. And he said -- he put -- he put it in a great way. He said, "awful, indelible, fixable."

And it's only going to be fixable if -- if we keep our eye on it.

As Diana was saying, you know, it's -- it's an extraordinary thing to see an army having an agenda of peace. And they do it with such incredible intentions. And I think the other thing that's really important -- and I -- I want to use a quick example -- is when we went in to do food distribution, one saw in the two -- two days of planning and the change that happened after the first day of it and so on, the -- these people are so resilient and so able to take care of themselves.

But this devastated city is -- it's too much for anyone. And so it's going to take a very long time. And it's...

KING: All right...

PENN: ...I think that it should be -- it should be the central bar of nobility in -- in humankind right now that -- that we stay with this and that the American people support, as long as possible, the American -- I would like to tell all my lefty friends out there, these guys are doing an amazing job and they're doing it with the greatest intentions in heart and in conjunction with all of the other organizations. It's a -- and it is an amazing amount of cooperation.

And so I think if we can't call it fixable, then -- then -- then all the rest of us are failures. And then America is a failure.

KING: Well said.

PENN: So...

KING: Well said, Sean.

PENN: This is the way to do it.

KING: Diana, do -- how do people get more information on Jenkins-Penn Haitian Relief?

JENKINS: We're going to set up the Web site very soon and everything is going to be on that Web site. KING: Until then, you can contact our Web site and we'll put people who contact us in touch with you.

JENKINS: Thank you.

KING: Are you optimistic?

JENKINS: I am, because I've seen the best of the human race in action there. The people -- the doctors are willing to do anything. The people are willing to donate; the Army at its best. I've seen everything at its best trying to help what's worst happening.

KING: We're going to get into the topic of exploitation.

Kent Page will remain with us and three other experts will join us.

We thank Diana Jenkins and Sean Penn and salute you for the great work you're doing.

And we'll be right back.


KING: We're back.

Still with us is Kent Page, senior communication officer with UNICEF.

Joining us from Port-au-Prince, as well, is Annie Foster, emergency team leader with Save The Children.

In Washington, David Diggs, co-founder and director of Beyond Borders. David lived and worked in Haiti for a decade. He still visits there regularly. Ending child slavery in Haiti is a Beyond Borders priority.

And here in L.A. Aaron Cohen, head of He's the author of "Slave Hunter: One Man's Global Quest to Free Victims of Human Trafficking."

How much, Aaron, is going on -- how much of this is going on in Haiti?

AARON COHEN, RESCUES CHILD SLAVES: You know, Larry, it's an incredible phenomenon in Haiti. They have a cultural norm of slavery that's left over from the (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: How does it work?

COHEN: Well, there is -- essentially, it goes back to male privilege. Women have been debased to a level where they don't have the same social value as men, so they can't be there to protect their children. Over 250,000 restavek slaves end up in domestic servitude.

KING: What, people are taken from their homes and made slaves in other places? COHEN: Well, what happens is that essentially the poverty is such a problem, that they end up leaving the rural areas for the cities to work as domestic servants. At that point, they become vulnerable. You see, in -- they have a law in Haiti where, if you're under the age of 15, you don't have to pay the child. But if they're over 15, you have to pay them.

So what happens is the children that are over 15 end up being kicked out and they become vulnerable to human trafficking.

KING: David, why is this so rampant?

DAVID DIGGS, BEYOND BORDERS: I think the causes are complex. It's not just cultural, it's -- there are economic causes. There are political causes. And I think that part of it is the lure of the city. Most of these children come from remote, poor villages in the countryside and -- where they don't have services. They don't have enough schools.

Only about half of Haiti's children have an opportunity to attend school and -- and most don't graduate even from elementary schools. So there are more schools in the city. And parents in the countryside often hope that if they send their child away to a family in the city, that their child will have a chance to get an education.

So there is a huge need for investment in -- in rural education, rural development and in policies that support rural families, because it -- it's largely a migration problem.

There -- there are tremendous forces drawing families and drawing children into the cities. And -- and one -- one remarkable opportunity with this earthquake, this tragedy, is that the people being forced out into the countryside can revitalize these rural communities. And so there's an opport -- an opportunity to take advantage of this if we stay with it, we invest in schools, we invest in rural communities.

KING: Annie, does the earthquake make the problem more problemsome?

ANNIE FOSTER, SAVE THE CHILDREN: Well, yes, Larry. The kids are so vulnerable now. I mean they -- there were so many children right on the precipice before this earthquake happened in Haiti, in terms of poverty and lack of access to so many resources.

So this earthquake has really, really changed that to -- for -- for the worse. And as David said, I mean, what we need to do is work with families to ensure that they can have the resources to keep their kids with them so that this trafficking does not become a risk.

And Save The Children is working with kids, but as well as with their families, so that they have the help, the nutrition and livelihood opportunities, so that they're able to support their children and aren't -- aren't tempted to -- to give them up.

KING: Kent, what does UNICEF do about this? PAGE: Well, UNICEF, as I said, is extremely concerned about the children who are unaccompanied or separated from their parents, because these children are particularly vulnerable to pedophiles. They are vulnerable to traffickers. They are vulnerable to exploitation, sexual violence, abuse.

And so we are doing everything possible, with our partners, to find those children, get them into safe, protective areas where they can have a sense of normalcy, where they won't be vulnerable and get them back through a family tracing and reunification program where they can be brought back with their immediate or extended family and be in a safe environment.

KING: We'll have more on the threat of child trafficking in Haiti and what's being done to stop it, when we come back.


KING: By the way, if you want to help, you just text freedom 27138 and text in your donation.

Speaking of that, Aaron, who's -- who's doing the trafficking in Haiti?

COHEN: Well, the trafficking...

KING: Who -- who are the traffickers?

COHEN: The traffickers are essentially organized crime groups. There's -- there's mafia and criminal syndicates that are making money...

KING: Haitian Mafia?

COHEN: Haitian Mafia and out of the Dominican Republic. Plus, you know, in Haiti, there's other international mafias that are coming in for the field day. All these children are vulnerable. So there's -- there's...

KING: Who's paying them?

COHEN: Who's paying the traffickers? KING: Yes.

COHEN: Well, you know, these organized crime groups, children are a commodity, just like drugs. And so what happens is, is they come in and -- and they pay -- they pay a wholesale price and those kids are transited to places like the Bahamas or to the Democratic Republic of Congo, in -- into America or Europe.

KING: So they're slaves?

COHEN: That's correct. Most of them end up in sex slavery.

KING: David, what specifically does Beyond Borders do?

DIGGS: Larry, I'm going to tell you that, but let me correct something that Aaron said.

The vast majority of children who are sent into servitude are sent by their parents, they're not sold. I don't know of any Haitian parents who sell their children.

I'm sure that there are a few children who end up in the Bahamas as -- as sex slaves. But the vast majority of these children are internally trafficked.

And -- and so what Beyond Borders is trying to do is reinforce the rural families, invest in sustainable agriculture, invest in schools. Most of these rural parents send their children away to the cities because out of desperation and out of false hope that they'll find a better life in the city.

And so a lot of what we invest in is education programming through the radio, through adult education programs, adult literacy, so that these parents understand the risks their children face if sent to -- sent to the cities.

KING: Annie, are there enough resources on the ground to safeguard children?

FOSTER: Well, there's more coming. And Save The Children is working hard to make that happen. You know, the -- the thing is, is that you have to take the holistic approach, is what's been said. You can't just focus on the kids. The kids need psychosocial support. They need a safe place. They need to feel normalcy again.

But, also, the parents need help so that they understand that there's health and nutrition and opportunities for livelihood; so that they feel that they can take care of their families and the families can stay together. That's the most important thing, Larry.

KING: Kent, the problem seems like humongous. I mean it seems like overwhelming.

Do you ever get that feeling?

PAGE: No, I don't, Larry. UNICEF and partners -- everybody is working, literally, around the clock to try and address this problem. We are pulling out all the stops. We're going to be here for the long -- long-term.

There are a lot of things to be done. We're working in the areas of nutrition, water and sanitation, education, health, child protection. There's so much to be done. But people are doing everything possible and all the resources are being maximum maximized.

KING: And you get a sense of good things happening?

PAGE: Absolutely. I was -- I was, today, at one of the interim care shelters, where children who have been unaccompanied or separated from their parents have been brought. A boy that we brought a couple of days ago, he was very subdued and sad, didn't want to talk too much. I saw him again this morning. He was happy. He told me he had new friends. He was in an education activity. He was playing soccer in the field. He was getting some psychosocial activities.

So there's hope and we're not going to stop working until every Haitian child is taken care of.

KING: As we go to break, here's a look at one orphanage in Haiti, the Lighthouse Orphanage, both before and after the earthquake.



Lighthouse orphanage before the earthquake



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We started off with 12 boys in our orphanage. We're up to 54 kids right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On the street, they just had to grow up so quickly. And now just seeing them at the orphanage being kids and playing, it's so cool to see.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know that these kids -- this generation is going to change Haiti, maybe one person at a time.

Love changes people. It really does.



January 12, 2010


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Southern Haiti just before 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As soon as the earthquake happened, the boys home was turned into a clinic where all the injured people from the neighborhood came and all over. She's the only kid in our home that actually got hurt.

People started showing up at our place with missing arms and legs, and that's when we realized that it was really serious.

We're just taking it one day at a time. We have no clue what's going to happen tomorrow or the next day.



KING: Aaron Cohen wanted to said, David misunderstood, you deal with special groups, right?

COHEN: Yeah. We weren't having a discussion about parents selling their children. We were talking about organized crimes brokering them, gang task force investigations.

KING: Do you see progress?

COHEN: I see progress, yes. Ambassador Dubaca (ph) at the State Department is doing a magnificent job. What he's accomplished is marvelous. I see progress.

But at the same time, slavery's the fastest growing illegal business in the world. It's already past drug sales. And it's in position to pass -- excuse me, it's already passed arm sales, and it's in position to pass drug sales.

KING: And it's in every country?

COHEN: Every country.

KING: David Diggs, do you see progress?

DIGGS: I do. When I first went to Haiti years ago, no one spoke about this problem. There's growing awareness of the problem of children being sent away. And I think that one of the most encouraging things I've seen in the aftermath of this earthquake is that there's a monumental effort to begin registering these children. And if that's done right, that can be passed on to the Haitian government, so that they can begin keeping track of their own children, their own vulnerable children.

KING: Yeah, is Haiti -- Annie, is Haiti capable of keeping track of its own?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we're working on that, Larry. I mean, I was in Ache, and the way that we have progressed since then is so amazing. We've got this database that we're sharing with the government, Unicef, Save the Children, all these organizations working together to track those kids, track the most vulnerable kids, the kids most likely to be trafficked, the ones that are separated.

We're reunifying them with their families as quickly as possible. In Ache, because of the database, because of the networks, we were able to reunify over 90 percent of the children that were registered on our database. And we're looking to do the same thing here in Haiti. But it is a long road ahead. There is a lot to be done here.

KING: And Kent, you remain optimistic, right? PAGE: Absolutely. I remain optimistic. Let me give you three examples why. Unicef is delivering now clean, life-saving water to over 500,000 people every day here in Haiti. Immunization, we're going to start on Tuesday, an immunization campaign against the Measles, Diphtheria, and Tetanus for children, for over 500,000 children.

And education -- since the earthquake, the schools have been closed. We've hard that schools in unaffected areas will open on Monday. And Unicef will be working on a program that I think we'd like to call an all to school program, to bring all children in Haiti back to school, because we know that before the earthquake, not all children were in school. Now we want to work that every child gets the right to an education.

So, absolutely, I have hope. I have optimism.

KING: By the way, you can go to our website and give you information on all the organizations mentioned here tonight and how you can help. And we thank our guests.

Many people are asking how they can adopt a child from Haiti. We'll talk to experts to tell you what you need to know, right after this.


KING: Joining us now in Atlanta is Tionne "T-Boz" singer, song writer and actress, working on a VH-1 reality show with her TLC band mate Chili. And here in Los Angeles, Marty Caldwell, certified Open Adoption practitioner, founder and CEO of the Lifetime Adoption Center. She herself is an adoptive mother.

T-Boz, we understand you want to adopt a child from Haiti. Why?

TIONNE "T-BOZ" WATKINS, SINGER: Well, I had thought about adopting a child anyway four years from now, but when I heard about the incident and kids possibly not having parents, I felt like I should try and help someone. And go ahead and adopt now.

KING: Have you begun the process?

WATKINS: I have made calls and tried to reach out, but, from my understanding, the person who processes the paperwork is missing. And I haven't gotten very far. So hopefully being on the show here today, I can probably get some information and see if I can help move things further along, if it's even possible at this point.

KING: I'm sure you will. Marty, can we adopt a child from Haiti now?

MARTY CALDWELL, LIFETIME ADOPTION CENTER: Well, right now, the country is officially closed. That means if you have not had the paperwork in process and going, basically, it is -- it's -- you're done.

KING: It would seem they would be open to it.

CALDWELL: Well, they are. But you have to realize, the country is still unstable, and they're trying to stabilize that. and the country processes adoptions. So they first have to stabilize their country, then they can process the adoptions.

KING: So T-Boz is going to have a tough time?

CALDWELL: She is going to have a tough time, but there are things she can do, Larry, in the meantime. She can start researching, as she's doing right now, adoptions. If she really wants to adopt from Haiti, she may consider adopting an African-American child that's waiting in the United States, and do so within a year, because there are many children that are basically orphaned, if you would say, in the United States, that are waiting for homes too.

But Haiti, we don't know when they're going to open up again. We don't know -- it's undisclosed and it could be years, but she can start --

KING: So it's easier to adopt a black American child than a Haitian child.

CALDWELL: Exactly. And it's actually less expensive and the children are waiting.

KING: Less expensive request .

CALDWELL: Yes, because you're not traveling.

KING: Before the quake, was it easy to adopt from Haiti?

CALDWELL: It was a little easier to adopt form Haiti than of course it is now form other countries. But unless you had your paperwork going, you cannot adopt from Haiti at this point.

KING: T-Boz, anything you want to ask Marty?

WATKINS: Actually, what she said is what I've been hearing, and that's why I answered the question that way, like, if it's still possible. Because every time I call someone, they say that it's been shut down, you can't do so. And then they offer, you know, Ethiopian children or any other ethnic type of kids. And I just thought, you know, that I would be able to help someone who was in need right now, because of the devastating things that happened in Haiti. But I keep hearing the same thing that she just said to you.

CALDWELL: And it's sad. Our hearts go out to people that want to adopt and want to help these children. But realistically, we can't go just on emotional -- this is a lifetime commitment.

KING: Let's take a call. Salina, Ohio. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. Hi, Larry. Thank you for having me on the show.

KING: Sure. CALLER: I would like to express some concern about -- you know, when we're talking about long-term programs and everything, I think it's wonderful. I think it's amazing what the groups are doing already down there that have been down there for years. But my concern is in the next six months. You know, we're talking kind of a short-term/long-term process here, where the kids, there are not -- I know there are not enough places for these kids to go right now in Haiti. And they're not all accounted for yet.

But as they're being accounted for, couldn't there be a cooperative effort in the United States and other countries, who are willing to accept these children into a type of fostering -- a fostering program that may or may not go into adoption, but that these kids could be cared for. They could be educated, that they are not homeless, that they are nurtured.

KING: that sounds like a great idea.

CALDWELL: It does. And they are working on some type of format like that.

KING: Related to adoption.

CALDWELL: Exactly. In Florida, they're trying to develop a plan where the children could be taken care of, taken care of medically and psychologically.

KING: T-Boz, would you foster a child before you could adopt?

WATKINS: Yes, I would love to. I just want to help in some kind of way. If I could do that, I would love to.

KING: All right. We're going to take a break. We're going to keep T-Boz and Marty with us. And we'll be joined by, when we come back with, Michelle Bond of the State Department, dealing with overseas citizens and their involvement. And also, we'll meet the president of Knightsbridge International, a non-profit dedicated to humanitarian assistance. Right back.



KING: T-Boz Watkins and Marty Caldwell remain with us. Joining us is Michelle Bond, United States State Department's deputy citizens secretary for overseas citizen services. She's in Washington. Is the government supportive of Haiti's decision, Michelle, to put new adoptions on hold?

MICHELLE BOND, US STATE DEPARTMENT: Yes, at this time, in the immediate aftermath of this cataclysmic earthquake, Haiti has decided that their first priority is to identify the children that have been separated from their families and work to locate those families and reunite the children with their families, rather than --

KING: Any indication -- I'm sorry, go ahead. BOND: Well, rather than forking, in the first instance, on thinking about sending the children away from the locations where family members would be searching for them.

KING: Any indication when Haiti might start processing new adoption applications?

BOND: No, not at this time. It's only a couple weeks now after the earthquake and they are not talking about that at all right now. They're focused on the immediate relief work.

KING: What about adoption families where the paperwork was halfway along or three quarters of the way done?

BOND: Right. Immediately after this incredibly devastating earthquake, one of the things that we did within the government was to think about what might be possible for children who were already in the process of being adopted by American parents. And so officials at the Departments of Homeland Security and State sat down and worked out an idea of how to identify children that could appropriately be brought to the United States, even though their Haitian adoption wasn't complete.

We proposed this plan to the Haitian government. They agreed to it. And on January 18th, less than a week after the earthquake struck, Secretary Napolitano of Homeland Security announced that humanitarian parole would be available for children who met specific criteria. Now, 11 days after that, more than 500 of these children have already gone to the United States to join very happy families.

KING: Michelle, do you want T-Boz to be able to adopt a Haitian child?

BOND: I think in the long term, that could be a great thing. But in the immediate term, the best thing that could happen to the children who are in Haiti's orphanages would be to be able to move them very quickly into permanent, loving homes. And the adoption process is a very long one. There are things that could be done to assist, for example, very, very poor -- the poorest of Haiti's families -- and that's the poorest country in the western hemisphere -- put their children into orphanages just so they'll be fed and clothed and cared for, because these families are too poor to do it.

If we can help them bring their kids home from orphanages and raise them themselves, if we can provide the support we need, you could move thousands of children into permanent homes with their own families.

KING: Thanks, Michelle. Joining us now, in Port-Au-Prince, Edward Arvis, president of Knightsbridge International, a non-profit dedicated to providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief around the world. Our cameras found you yesterday coming to the aid of an orphanage in need of help. What were you doing, Edward?

EDWARD ARVIS, KNIGHTSBRIDGE INTERNATIONAL: We were doing a survey and delivering aid in hope. That what we generally do, is go in, assess and immediately provide the hope and goods that they need.

KING: Do you at all deal with adoption?

ARVIS: No. Not at all. That's not anything that we are involved with. Ours is health care, education, livelihood.

KING: For children?

ARVIS: For anybody in need. Children are just one segment of it, a major segment. They're the more emotional segment. But to be able to reunite the family and provide them with the material they need to remain a family is a key issue with us.

KING: We understand one of your comrades was lost in the rubble of the Hotel Montana. Any news at all?

ARVIS: None whatsoever. He's still listed as missing. In the aftermath of the earthquake, Walt Radimon (ph), one of the members of Knightsbridge for the last eight to ten years, has gone missing at that location.

KING: Edward, are you optimistic about Haiti?

ARVIS: I'm always optimistic when I see the outpouring of compassionate and focused aid. There are big NGOs. The small NGOs are here. They're here for the right reason. I haven't seen or heard of anything that would cause me to be concerned that anything but good would come from the aftermath of this.

KING: Thanks, Edward Arvis. When we come back, T-Boz and Marty remain with us. Dixie Bickel, the director of God's Little Angel's Orphanage in Haiti, will join us.


KING: Joining Marty and T-Boz, from Miami, is Dixie Bickel, the director of God's Little Angel Orphanage in Haiti. Last week, 81 children from that orphanage arrived in Miami to join their adoptive families. Dixie, how are they doing?

DIXIE BICKEL, GOD'S LITTLE ANGELS ORPHANAGE: As far as I know they're doing well. The ones we've heard from say the kids are adjusting very well with their families. We're really thankful that the Haitian government decided back in July of last year that all parents had to travel to Haiti to meet their children before the adoption could be finalized. So these children had -- at the time we didn't like it, but they had an opportunity to meet their families. That was really a blessing.

KING: Any children left at your orphanage?

BICKEL: I have 17 children who have families in France that have not left yet, and negotiating with the French government to get them out. I have three children that came after the earthquake.

KING: Dixie, if you've been watching or listening to the show, what advice do you have for T-Boz, who apparently now cannot adopt while there's this hold on in Haiti, who wants to adopt? What advice do you have for her?

BICKEL: I'm hoping that Haitian adoptions will start up again. We're going to have to -- right now, it's in chaos. The country is in chaos. And adoptions is the least important thing, I'm sure, in the Haitian government mind. They're still trying to dig out. And it's going to take a long time.

There are orphans in orphanages that are -- were there before the earthquake that still will be for adoption. And she can contact different orphanages to find out if they've got children.

The children that I've got, that have come in since the earthquake, we're calling them displaced children. They are not orphans until it's proven that they are orphans. So our top priority is to get photos of the children, take them to the Haitian social services, to the hospitals, and ask for the parents. We figure that's where the parents are going to look first.

KING: Marty, is there any -- do you ever deal with Dixie?

CALDWELL: I haven't worked with Dixie, no. I think that she's right, though, that do the research ahead of time. Find out, so when it does open up, the people that want to adopt, to have the paperwork.

KING: Is there hope for t-Boz?

CALDWELL: I think there is. If she does her homework now and wants to really, truly adopt, I believe it can happen. It may take a few years.

KING: T-Boz, I have an idea. Dixie, are you going back to Haiti?

BICKEL: I am. I believe tomorrow. Thank heavens. I'm staying. I don't have to come out again for a while.

KING: T-Boz, my idea, just off the top, contact Dixie Bickel at the God's Little Angel's Orphanage in Haiti. Call her and see what she might be able to do for you, T-Boz, and maybe we can work something out here.

WATKINS: Thank you, I will. I'll try. I'm not going to give up.

KING: What were you going to say, Dixie?

BICKEL: I was going to tell her she needs to get a home study done. She needs to start some of the paperwork that takes six months in the states to do, so that when adoptions do open up, she's ready.

CALDWELL: Exactly.

KING: We wish you all the best of luck. Salute you, Marty, for what you do. Dixie, thanks for everything. Good luck, T-Boz. We'll try.

T-Boz Watkins, Marty Caldwell and Dixie Bickel. That's it for this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We hope we've provided you with information, and hopefully help for people who through no fault of their own are caught in this. Here's Soledad O'Brien and "AC 360." Soledad?