FATHER OF HAITIAN KIDS ORDERED TO QUIT WORK A JUDGE SAYS HE SHOULD GO ON WELFARE TO SUPPORT THE 17 ADOPTEES.

Date: 1997-03-03

News-Sentinel, The (Fort Wayne, IN)

Author: ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dateline: SHELBYVILLE

Former missionary Dan Blackburn said obeying a judge's order will mean breaking a promise to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Shelby Circuit Judge Charles O'Connor ordered Blackburn on Friday to go on welfare so he can better support 17 adopted Haitian children he has custody of.

Before he and his then-wife brought 28 Haitian children to the United States in 1989, Blackburn said he gave his word to the INS that the children would never receive welfare benefits.

``It's definitely not what I want to do,'' he said. ``The kids are going to say, `Great, look what we get. . . . Why should we work?' ''

Blackburn and his then-wife, Kathy, adopted the children, many with special needs, while the two served as missionaries in Haiti. They are now divorced, and last July, O'Connor awarded custody of the 19 youngest children to Dan Blackburn.

O'Connor on Friday ordered Blackburn to quit work and stay at home to supervise the children. And he ordered two of the children who are older than 18 to find someplace else to live.

Friday's hearing was prompted by a report detailing deplorable conditions that county officials found at the family's home.

Donations from individuals and religious groups - which the family formerly relied on for all their needs - have all but dried up, Blackburn testified. He also said that $68 in court-ordered weekly child support from his ex-wife has never been paid.

Kathy Blackburn said she was concerned about conditions in the home. ``My children are upset,'' she said. ``They are discouraged. Some of them are frantic. I'm very concerned about their safety.''

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