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Haiti Earthquake

From the Associated Press:

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Six U.S.-bound orphans seized by Haitian officials as they prepared to board a flight to Miami were to resume their journey to American homes on Wednesday after being handed over to the U.S. Embassy.

Jan Bonnema, the Minnesota-based founder of the Cap-Haitien orphanage where the children lived, said the orphans were to fly to Miami in the afternoon on a charter and their adoptive parents will be able to take their children home on Thursday.

Sara Vanzee and her husband, Tim, are waiting for their 13-month-old son, Albert, to arrive. The couple says the situation has been stressful even though they understand the suspicions surrounding adoptions given recent cases in Haiti.

“Our hope is that they’re OK with it, that they can see that we absolutely love these children and that we want to provide for them,” Vanzee, who is from the U.S. Midwest, told The Associated Press.

The case of the six orphans seized Saturday at the Port-au-Prince airport echoed that of 10 Americans caught last month trying to take youngsters out of the earthquake-ravaged nation. But this time things turned out differently, with the six children being handed over to the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday.

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The two cases highlight the perils of trying to remove youngsters from this desperate country.

At the very moment when Haiti’s impoverished children are in greatest need — and well-meaning foreigners are most willing to help — fears of child trafficking are making it harder than ever for them to leave the Western Hemisphere’s poorest land.

Fears were exacerbated by the case of 10 U.S. Baptist missionaries who were stopped in late January trying to take a busload of 33 children to the Dominican Republic without proper documentation.

Thousands of desperate Haitian parents, unable to care for their own children, have shown themselves eager to give the youngsters away in hopes of giving them a better life. But they are terrified they will be tricked by predators who will enslave or sexually abuse the children.

Haiti’s government immediately halted new adoptions in the chaos that followed the Jan. 12 quake, allowing only those already approved to move forward.

That chill hardened into a freeze after Saturday’s incident. A U.S. State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity, said the latest drama held up the departure of 50 orphans approved for U.S. adoption.

It took the U.S. ambassador and Haiti’s prime minister to iron out on Tuesday what turned out to be an ugly misunderstanding.

Four women including an adoptive mother from Minnesota arrived at the airport with six children ages 1 to 5 from the Cap-Haitien orphanage. The U.S. Embassy official carrying the documents needed to usher them through immigration was running late.

Suddenly, a group of 20 men rushed to block them, cursing them and screaming “‘You can’t take our children!'”

The women were briefly detained, but the children wound up spending three days sleeping on the ground in a tent-city social services home, according to their escorts from the Children of The Promise orphanage.

Still in detention were two of the 10 U.S. Baptist missionaries. Their eight associates were released last week and flew back to the United States.

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[9:03 a.m. – 2/23/2010] – U.S. Woman Accused Of Forging Paperwork To Adopt Haitian Orphans

From CNN:

Port-au-Prince, Haiti — Six Haitian orphans, at the airport and on their way to new lives in the United States, had their destination changed at the last moment. Now they are at an orphanage, under the custody of the Haitian government, while the details of their departure are sorted out.

Sarah Thacker, a Minnesota woman who was in Haiti to bring home her newly adopted son, now finds herself facing allegations that the paperwork she held was forged. Thacker and two other women who helped her were not arrested, but are the subject of the incident that follows the arrests of 10 U.S. missionaries accused of taking a group of Haitian children out of the country without the proper paperwork.

All 10 were charged with trying to take 33 children out of Haiti without any legal authorization after a magnitude-7.0 earthquake devastated the country on January 12. Eight of them have been released on bail and have returned to the United States.

Thacker and the two other women were going to escort six Haitian orphans to the United States to new families, including Thacker’s adopted son, Reese.

Click here to read more.