OFFERS OF HELP POUR IN TO COUPLE WITH 28 ADOPTED HAITIAN CHILDREN

Date: 1994-09-25

Post-Tribune (IN)

Author: The Associated Press
Dateline: SHELBYVILLE

An outpouring of support has given Dan and Kathy Blackburn some peace again in their home of 28 adopted Haitian children.

Two of the teenage boys got jobs, and many people have offered financial help and counseling for the couple and their family.

Mrs. Blackburn said she already sees a change in her children.

"We have had several 'jam sessions' with other teens who have been in trouble," she said. "They have come into our home and talked to all the kids about staying out of trouble and what will happen if you don't."

The Blackburns, former missionaries, adopted the 17 boys and 11 girls after the children's parents died from disease and famine in Haiti. They brought them back to the United States five years ago.

Problems began to arise as the children grew older. Twenty-three are now teenagers.

Neighbors complained that the children harass people trying to drive down the road near the family's rural home.

Two of the Blackburns' 17 boys were arrested, one for theft and one for criminal mischief, and some of the teens were leaving home without permission.

Supervising the children became harder when Dan Blackburn moved about 40 miles south to North Vernon for several months to take a job to help raise badly needed money, his wife said.

Larry Weiland, owner of the Golden Corral restaurant, called the Blackburns last Thursday after he read a newspaper story about them. He offered two 16-year-old boys jobs in the kitchen of his restaurant.

"It's amazing the change in them," Mrs. Blackburn said.

"They are much more respectful to us and they are very proud of what they are doing. It amazes me that they love doing at work what they complained about having to do at home."

In addition to help with the children, Mrs. Blackburn has had many calls from people wanting to offer support.

Two social workers from Indianapolis have agreed to be available whenever she needs them.

"And some people have stopped by just to spend time with me," she said.

"Some have called and said they had no extra time to spare, but they wanted to help financially."

One person bought the boys memberships to a Boys Club so they could play basketball after school.

"The boys are even starting to bring friends home after school, and I think those friends have been as much help as anything," Mrs. Blackburn said. ''They tell my boys they should listen to me and behave, and that is more effective than anything I could say."

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