Couple cleared of daughter's death attend church

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Matthew Grace Huang Qatar - updated 12/7
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Couple cleared of daughter's death attend church
FILE - In this Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014 file photo, American couple Grace and Matthew Huang, who were sentenced to jail on murder charges following the January 2013 death of their adopted daughter Gloria, pose for a photo before they meet with the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar in Doha, Qatar. A Qatari appeals court has overturned a ruling against the American couple over the death of their adopted daughter. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal, File)
American couple Grace, center, and Matthew Huang, left, speak with U.S. Ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, right, at the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. An American couple cleared of charges in their adopted daughter’s death passed through passport control Wednesday and are set to leave Qatar. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple convicted of child endangerment following the death of their African-born adopted 8-year-old daughter, leave the appeal court after a hearing in Doha, Qatar, Monday Oct. 20, 2014. The Huangs have remained out of prison during their appeal. They say their daughter died of medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits. The final verdict has been set for Nov. 30, leaving little chance the defendants will be allowed to leave the country earlier. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
Matthew and Grace Huang, left and second left, an American couple convicted of child endangerment following the death of their African-born adopted 8-year-old daughter, speak to journalists outside the appeal court following a hearing in Doha, Qatar, Monday Oct. 20, 2014. The Huangs have remained out of prison during their appeal. They say their daughter died of medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits. The final verdict has been set for Nov. 30, leaving little chance the defendants will be allowed to leave the country earlier. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple convicted of child endangerment following the death of their African-born adopted 8-year-old daughter, leave the appeal court after a hearing in Doha, Qatar, Monday Oct. 20, 2014. The Huangs have remained out of prison during their appeal. They say their daughter died of medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits. The final verdict has been set for Nov. 30, leaving little chance the defendants will be allowed to leave the country earlier. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple convicted of child endangerment following the death of their African-born adopted 8-year-old daughter, leave the appeal court after a hearing in Doha, Qatar, Monday Oct. 20, 2014. The Huangs have remained out of prison during their appeal. They say their daughter died of medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits. The final verdict has been set for Nov. 30, leaving little chance the defendants will be allowed to leave the country earlier. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
FILE - This undated photo provided by the David House Agency shows Matthew, right, and Grace Huang, left, with two of their adopted children, Gloria, center left, and one of their two sons. The couple charged with starving to death their adopted daughter is asking a Qatar court to release them from prison as they pursue their legal battle, insisting their African-born child died of medical problems complicated by her anorexia-like bouts. (AP Photo/David House Agency)
Matthew, left, and Grace Huang, an American couple charged with starving to death their 8-year-old adopted daughter, speak to the press outside the a courthouse before their trial in Doha, Qatar, Thursday, March 27, 2014. The couple was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison, leaving the family “confused” and “shocked” according to defense lawyers who say the judge did not specify what they were guilty of. Judge Abdullah El-Emedy ordered the Huangs deported from Qatar after serving their three-year sentence. He also imposed a fine of 15,000 Qatari Rials, which is about $4,100. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
Matthew (L) and Grace Huang, a US couple who were accused of murdering their eight-year-old adopted daughter Gloria, stand outside the entrance of the Court of First Instance before their trial in Doha, March 27, 2014. A Qatari court condemned Matthew and Grace to three years in prison for the causing the death of their daughter, who was adopted from Ghana. AFP PHOTO / AL-WATAN DOHA / KARIM JAAFAR == QATAR OUT == (Photo credit should read KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)
US Ambassador to Qatar Dana Shell Smith (R) talks with Grace and Matthew (L) Huang, a US couple who were sentenced to three years in jail in Qatar in April 2014 for allegedly causing the death of their adopted daughter Gloria, as they arrive for a meeting in Doha on October 19, 2014. The Huang's were arrested in January 2013 after their 8-year-old daughter, Gloria, died unexpectedly, and an autopsy found she had died of 'cachexia and dehydration'. The Huangs will appeal their conviction on Monday. AFP PHOTO / AL-WATAN DOHA / KARIM JAAFAR == QATAR OUT == (Photo credit should read KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Matthew (C) and Grace (R) Huang, a US couple who were accused of murdering their eight-year-old adopted daughter Gloria, stand outside the entrance of the Court of First Instance before their trial in Doha, March 27, 2014. A Qatari court condemned Matthew and Grace to three years in prison for the causing the death of their daughter, who was adopted from Ghana. AFP PHOTO / AL-WATAN DOHA / KARIM JAAFAR == QATAR OUT == (Photo credit should read KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Matthew (L) and Grace Huang, a US couple who were accused of murdering their eight-year-old adopted daughter Gloria, speak to the press outside the entrance of the Court of First Instance before their trial in Doha, March 27, 2014. A Qatari court condemned Matthew and Grace to three years in prison for the causing the death of their daughter, who was adopted from Ghana. AFP PHOTO / AL-WATAN DOHA / KARIM JAAFAR == QATAR OUT == (Photo credit should read KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)
Matthew and Grace Huang, an American couple convicted of child endangerment following the death of their African-born adopted 8-year-old daughter, leave the appeal court after a hearing in Doha, Qatar, Monday Oct. 20, 2014. The Huangs have remained out of prison during their appeal. They say their daughter died of medical problems complicated by unusual eating habits. The final verdict has been set for Nov. 30, leaving little chance the defendants will be allowed to leave the country earlier. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)
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PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - An American couple detained in Qatar before being cleared in the death of their 8-year-old daughter attended a church service in Southern California where worshippers greeted them with a standing ovation.

Matthew and Grace Huang were called to the dais at the Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena shortly after the 9 a.m. service began. The couple stood in front of the congregation hugging their two surviving children amid sustained claps and cheers.

Matthew Huang briefly addressed the parishioners, saying he was thankful to be home and among friends.

"The situation the past two years was extremely difficult," he said. "It's taught us a lot about patience."

The Huangs gained international attention when Qatari authorities arrested them in January 2013 on charges of starving their African-born daughter, Gloria, to death.

The couple, who are of Asian descent, had adopted Gloria in Ghana when she was 4 years old, and are the parents of two other adopted, African-born children.

The Huangs spent nearly a year in jail and were convicted of child endangerment. An appeals court judge overturned their conviction last week and said they could leave Qatar.

Saying he didn't know whether to dance or weep, Senior Pastor Greg Waybright welcomed the Huangs back into the congregation.

"To have you at home is the greatest news, and the greatest Christmas present, that we could ever have," he said.

Congregant Frank Huber said the Huangs and their ordeal were often reference points during services over the past nearly two years.

"We've been praying for this day," Huber said.

Throughout the case, the family's representatives expressed concern that there were cultural misunderstandings underpinning the charges against the couple in a nation where Western-style adoptions and cross-cultural families are relatively rare.

An initial police report raised questions about why the couple would adopt children who did not share their "hereditary traits."

Prosecutors said the couple denied food to their daughter and locked her in her room at night. The Huangs said Gloria suffered from medical problems complicated by an eating disorder that was the result of her impoverished early years in Africa.

The Huangs spent several months behind bars before their case was heard for the first time in November 2013.

The couple and their children moved to Qatar in 2012 after Matthew Huang was hired to work as an engineer as part of preparations for the 2022 World Cup in Doha.

Waybright said the church would make a special offering collection next Sunday for money to help the Huangs get back on their feet.

American Couple Escapes Murder Charges In Qatar, Returns Home


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