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Pair's voluntary U.S. exit OKd

Chinese couple have custody of daughter and will avoid deportation.

January 04, 2008|From the Associated Press

MEMPHIS, TENN. — A Chinese couple who fought for seven years to get their daughter back from foster care won a judge's approval Thursday to avoid deportation by leaving the United States voluntarily.

Shaoqiang and Qin Luo He regained custody of 8-year-old Anna Mae in July on orders from the state Supreme Court. The high court overturned a Memphis judge who cleared the way in 2004 for an American couple, Jerry and Louise Baker, to adopt the child over her parents' objections.

The Hes said they plan to return to China next month with Anna and their two younger children, Andy, 7, and Avita, 5. All three children were born in the United States.

Immigration Judge Lawrence Burman agreed to the voluntary departure and set a deadline of May 2 for the Hes to leave or be deported.

Deportation would put a 10-year ban on any request to reenter the United States.

Anna, who does not speak Chinese, grew up with American foster parents in suburban Memphis, and the Hes said they worry she will have a hard time adjusting to life in China.

Shaoqiang He said he may seek permission to temporarily return to the United States if Anna develops serious psychological or emotional problems.

"But personally, I want to stay in China," he said.

Shaoqiang He came to Tennessee to attend graduate school at the University of Memphis, but his student visa expired years ago. He was allowed to remain in the United States because of the custody fight, which began in May 2000 and ended with the high court ruling last January.

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