In good journalistic fashion, a Chicago Tribune article on Haitian adoptions (“Haitian adoptions left in limbo by earthquake,” January 17) consists of heart-rending descriptions of the plight of an American woman facing the sudden problems created by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti on January 12.  The woman is worried about “her 4-year-old adoptive daughter, who is HIV-positive,” and who is still in Haiti.  The “single mother of five finds herself stuck in an agonizing limbo, frantically trying to help the girl, who survived the massive earthquake, but unable to reach her as food, water and medications begin to run out.”  This woman, a 63-year-old pediatric oncologist, was only recently able to finalize the adoption, after the United States repealed a prohibition on immigrants who are HIV-positive.  This story is upsetting, but not only because of the terrible situation of that little girl.

One may count the ways this incident illustrates our pervasive individual and collective lack of responsibility.  The girl being adopted is four years old and therefore will require constant full-time care from a parent.  She also has HIV, and thus will strain even more the health resources of the United States.  Our State Department will allow her in because it has lifted the former ban on HIV-positive immigrants.  One wonders what illnesses our wise government authorities will allow in next—hepatitis, malaria, tuberculosis?  Apparently the Emma Lazarus poem now means that we should welcome not only the world’s poor, but also the world’s sick.

Perhaps our government believes we should have no problems taking care of more ill people because of the evidently limitless resources of our health system.  We already allow in all sorts of illnesses, since we do not control our borders.  We do such a poor job of controlling even legal immigration that the first case of a virulent and drug-resistant form of tuberculosis was recently detected in the United States in a Peruvian to whom an American consulate must have issued a student visa without a proper health certificate.

The adoptive mother of this four-year-old girl with HIV is 63 years old.  This does not bode well for the long-term care of a sick child, since a 63-year-old mother obviously has less energy than someone younger.  And this 63-year-old woman already has five children, progeny who would tax the energy of a far younger mother.

Nor is this 63-year-old woman a stay-at-home mother.  She is an oncologist.  (Perhaps her professional interest explains her wish to adopt an HIV-positive child.)  With such a job, how much time can this mother dedicate to her five, soon to be six, children?  And finally, this woman, who is 63 years old, who has five children, who has a demanding job, is single.  So she will have no potential help from a spouse.  Presumably she will hire people, if she doesn’t already have some, to take care of the four-year-old child whose mother she is supposed to become.

Our wise government officials do not seem to have taken into account any of these factors in their decision to grant a permit for such an adoption.  But should that come as any surprise?