September 18, 2004

Casa Alianza Fires Bruce Harris

One of the greatest critics and foes of intercountry adoption from Guatemala has fallen prey to some of the atrocities which he fought against for years. He has been accused of paying a 19 year old boy for sex, and apparently has admitted to the misconduct.

The story can be found at,0,4248937.story

Even though many of us in the adoption community have for a long time been angered at his often inaccurate and sensationalized propaganda, this is not a time to rejoice. There is at least one victim in this, the young male who had been sheltered by Casa Alianza, and we must not look beyond the harsh realities that children face through the world and the real tragedy in this.

While I am happy to see Bruce Harris gone and hope that his departure will help lead the way for organizations like Covenant House and Unicef to lobby for pragmatic adoption reform that is not detrimental to children, it would be wrong to celebrate something that hurt an innocent young adult. While I hope that this will end the barrage of inaccurate NGO reports and the media pundits that repeat them, I can’t help to wonder if this is just the beginning of finding out exactly what all had been going on and how many more victims will come forward.

When Larry Flynt, in an attempt to defend Pres. Clinton during the Lewinsky affair, began to expose the extramarital activities of conservative members of Congress, he said he did not do it because of any morality. Quite to the contrary, he said he certainly couldn’t preach morality. It was the hypocrisy that he wanted to expose. So in that regard, I am glad to see this story uncovered. Jesus said “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Mr. Harris has certainly thrown his share of stones.

It is such a shame that in today’s world there seems to be no such thing as a true hero. While I haven’t agreed with Bruce Harris on matters of adoption, I have always admired his passion and the help he worked to provide children facing homelessness, drug addiction, and prostitution.

It is truly sad to see that good scarred now with uncertainty.

Posted by Kevin at September 18, 2004 12:01 PM

I want to add to Kevin's post... or to raise attention to a similar issue. Whether or not (as some might consider, since he at one time was sheltered at Casa Alianza) this young man was a minor when the relationship began with Mr. Harris, we need to address the issue on victimization of the victimized.

No matter which culture, no matter which country, we need to remember that programs intended to protect or enrich children are ripe playgrounds for pedophiles (which I am NOT alleging against Mr. Harris, since the young man involved was "of age"). But, since we see this in our own country, and in our churches, we need to be ever-vigilant as human beings and parents everywhere, at all times.

Especially at risk are children who are already victimized-- whether by abuse or neglect-- because they have been taught to think like victims and are easy targets for pedophiles who easily convince them that they care about the child.

I hope that the situation surrounding Mr. Harris' misconduct does not undo the good works of Casa Alianza and other children's homes which shelter and protect victimized and "thrown away" children. Whether or not Mr. Harris' alleged scandal began in the House, it does not affect that the House is necessary and can provide better living conditions and opportunities for these children.

What we should insist -- as in any children's institution-- that the responsible authorities investigate all people directly involved with the children in these Homes (as we try to do in other countries), past and future. It may not stop victimization, but it is certainly necessary in any children's institution-- whether educational or protective.

Posted by: Sheila at September 18, 2004 01:21 PM

While I am relieved that Bruce Harris will no longer have a forum for spouting his damaging rhetoric about intercountry adoptions - especially from Guatemala, I wish he had been discredited by the lies, untruths, and faulty logic of his positions rather than by such a disgusting and tawdry affair.
I feel for his family, and especially for those at Casa Alianza and elsewhere who are truly dedicated to helping the "throwaway" children. I have to say, though, that I find the irony of the whole situation simply staggering.

Posted by: Ellen at September 18, 2004 09:37 PM

I, too, am terribly concerned about the accusations (and admission?) that has unfolded at Casa Alianza and sparked the resignation/firing of Bruce Harris. It would seem that someone with direct knowledge of the victimization that these children had already suffered would avoid at all costs victimizing them again when they reach "legal age" and leave Casa Alianza. It also concerns me about the future of the "thrown away" children after they leave the shelter of Casa Alianza (and like shelters) and must fend for themselves again on the streets. While I cannot help but be thankful for the resignation of Mr. Harris for the sake of intercountry adoption in Guatemala, it is terrible that these circumstances precipitated it.

Posted by: Maura at September 19, 2004 05:55 PM

I have to disagree with Kevin on one point. (However, I think he'll agree with what I'm saying.)

The "real" heroes are where they've always been - mothers and fathers (whether adoptive, biological, or foster) who work hard to raise children to become responsible adults through unconditional love. Not all parents fit this definition. In fact, I fear that the percentage of parents who do is falling every day. However, the ones that do are real heroes.

With all due respect, it doesn't take a village, it takes a loving parent (or parents) to raise a child.

Posted by: Dave Prewitt at September 20, 2004 12:05 PM

How interesting that such passionate defense of powerless Guatemalan children from adoptive exploitation perhaps came as attempted atonement from a person with personal knowledge of such things. As stated by Ellen above, however, I am afraid that the misrepresentations espoused by Mr. Harris will survive this episode untouched.

Posted by: Bob Y. at September 20, 2004 05:35 PM

Bruce Harris deserves everything that is coming to him. It was only a matter of time that he would get caught. Over the last 2 years he has caused many problems for adoptions in Guatemala. I am elated that he will never ever work in this field again.. that is if anyone will hire him. His actions with a minor are disgusting.. How can we be so sure that this has only happened once?
With regards to adoptions..we have dealt with the Hauge and PGN delays in 2003.. at least there will be one less person to worry about for the future.

Posted by: Lisa R. at September 21, 2004 11:50 PM

I'm amazed about these news and it's weird but the face of this men never looked trustworthy to me... sometimes there is rightgeousness in this life and at least this "powerful" men won't be able to put a dark light on ICA anymore...

Posted by: Manuela at September 22, 2004 04:00 PM

Es lastimoso, que todos esten como lobos, tratando de comerse a la presa. Aqui no hay lobos ni presas, simplemente un ser humano acertado y equivocado, quien hizo mucho por los niños y también los victimizó, falló injustificadamente, cuantos de ustedes serán iguales o peores.... Hojalá pudieramos saber que tanto Bruce como ustedes, realmente no dañarán más a una persona menor de edad.
Piensen en eso!!!


Posted by: Juaquin at October 24, 2004 01:58 AM

Lo sucedido con Bruce Harris es muy penoso para muchos. Hay que reconocer que también trabajó por los niños abusados y necesitados, pero ha causado una gran decepción. Solamente espero que con lo que ha sucedido, países como Estados Unidos, de una vez por todas se fijen que hacen muchas ONGs y OIs.

Posted by: Carla Conde-Freudendorff at November 24, 2004 02:08 PM