This is an editorial by Andrew Cates, CEO of SOS Children UK.
However anyone reacted to ITV news revealing that James Caan offered to buy a baby girl off a family whilst visiting the aftermath of the Pakistan flooding, we must all acknowledge that his explanation had a pure ring of truth to it. Seeing a baby in distress and wanting to enfold them with love is not a sinister or exploitative or worrying reaction, it is the natural human reaction to seeing poverty and suffering. Anyone who sees a child in distress in the news and does not fleetingly toy with travelling out to rescue the child lacks a human side.
Of course, the head has to over-rule the heart before we do any harm to others. The 34 children in Haiti who were entrusted to us by the Haiti government should not have been removed from their families by the American missionaries who tried to leave Haiti with them and we have cautioned against adopting earthquake orphans in much the same way that we have cautioned against adopting tsunami orphans . The idea of mass international adoption is partly fueled by the less responsible International Aid Agencies who claim "millions of orphans" each major disaster to try to touch Western pockets even though at most a few thousand children are left genuinely alone by such events. Many need help as part of their family and the few genuine orphans' needs are our own special target group.
But back to human nature and our desire to take any miserable child home. When head over-rules heart what happens next? In many cases the head leads to an individual setting up a child sponsorship (to give a child utterly alone a new entire life) or supporting a family strengthening programme (which is specifically tailored to keep children with their family and prevent family breakdown). Millions of people contribute vast sums to children around the world through sponsorships which are a conceptual extension of adoption. James Caan I am sure has the wealth and resourcefulness to help a village in Pakistan directly himself, without need of the likes of us, and we admire him for it. But strong hearted, intelligent individuals of lesser means are the kind of people who set up SOS Children (a young doctor and his friends), who have built it to such a strong force for good in Pakistan and elsewhere and who continue to support and sponsor our children around the world, as an appropriate reaction to children who need them.
We applaud James Caan for his mistake and applaud him for recognising it. He proved himself worthy and human by both actions, and we hope in our own way to care as much as he did but also always to manage to follow the wisest course in good time.