12 Haitian children in legal limbo

Feb. 25, 2010 at 5:52 PM
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PITTSBURGH, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Twelve children flown from Haiti to Pittsburgh by a group including Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell are now in legal limbo.

They were part of a group of 56 children from a Port-au-Prince orphanage who were sent to Pennsylvania less than a week after the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake. Most of the children were in the process of being adopted by U.S. families.

Gary Tuma, a spokesman for Rendell, said the governor knew not all the children had adoption papers, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. But Tuma said Rendell believed they were all eligible for adoption, either because they were orphans or their parents had signed release papers.

The American Red Cross plans to interview the children, now living at the Holy Family Institute in Emsworth, Pa., and then attempt to find their families in Haiti and interview them. Tuma said if they have relatives in Haiti who want them back and they have not been legally relinquished by their parents the children can be returned.

Rendell's main concern when he helped organize the Jan. 18 flight was the safety of the children, Tuma said. Two Pittsburgh-area sisters, Jamie and Ali McMutrie, who were working at the Haitian orphanage, asked for help.

"It was a fog of war situation," Tuma said. "It was a pretty easy call."

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