Orphans set to leave Haiti with American women
February 24, 2010 2:05 a.m. EST
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- Six Haitian orphans, seized by national authorities last week as they prepared to journey to the United States, will be able to leave the earthquake-devastated country Wednesday.
The U.S. Embassy retained custody of the children Tuesday and they were handed over to three American women who have been trying to escort them out.
The women had attempted to leave Saturday when angry Haitians demanded to see their paperwork. Police suspected that a key document the women were carrying -- a permission signed by Haiti's prime minister -- was a fake, something the women and U.S. officials deny.
There is no chance the paperwork is fake, said Sarah Thacker, one of the three women. Thacker, from Minnesota, was in Haiti to bring home her newly adopted son.
Police did not arrest the women, but temporarily placed the children under government custody at a local orphanage.
The women said Tuesday that they had been given permission to take the children to the United States. The women were staying with the children at a friend's house in Port-au-Prince.
The incident came nearly a month after the arrest of 10 U.S. missionaries accused of trying to take 33 Haitian children out of the country without proper paperwork. Eight of them have been released on bail and have returned to the United States.
The question of Haitian children being removed from the country illegally came to the foreground after a magnitude-7.0 earthquake devastated parts of the country on January 12. Authorities feared that children left on their own -- because their parents died or they were separated from them -- would be targeted by child traffickers.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has backed Thacker's efforts.
"They have filled out all the paperwork," she said. "This is a legitimate orphanage that has brought other children to America. And I feel like these little babies are just caught up in this international dispute, and it's just not fair."