Hearing Postponed For Topeka Man In Haiti

By: Suzie Gilbert Email
By: Suzie Gilbert Email

Topeka, Kan. (WIBW) -- Topeka firefighter Drew Culberth and nine Americans are still awaiting a court appearance in Haiti where they're accused of trying to take children out of the country illegally. They say it was a misunderstanding.

Authorities aren't sure yet when they can come home. The State Department says they are working closely with the Haitian government and they say Haiti is cooperating.

The court hearing was scheduled for Monday but was postponed. That means the punishment of the 10 Americans is still in the hands of the Haitian government.

Culberth's family and church say the whole thing is a mistake. "I know him like he's my son or my brother. I've never had a reason to doubt his character or his trust or his ability to do what he's doing because he just really has a heart for people. He loves kids," James Keller, Bethel Baptist Church Pastor said.

Keller says prayers have poured out if his church since his congregation heard the news, and everyone at their church is confident that Culberth, their youth minister, will come home safely.

Keller added, "I just really have had a real peace about it, confidence about it... sometimes I feel a little guilty that I shouldn't be more upset about it. But I'm not."

But international adoption officials say it is something to be upset about.

"When we heard this we were concerned and disappointed because it does have a reflection on American adoption agencies," Sharon Stuewe, Director of Placement for Bethany Christian Services said.

Stuewe says people need to remember the law even in times of tragedy.

"It's similar to if after Katrina people from Mexico had come to this country and said these children don't have families and had taken them across the border to care for them. It might be well intentioned but it's making a huge assumption," Stuewe said.

Officials say declaring a child adoptable in the first place is an extensive process, one that has not changed since the earthquake hit.

The Haitian government says it's not opposed to having the group of Americans face charges in the United States.

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