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San Gabriel Couple Charged In Qatar For Allegedly Starving Daughter To Death

CULVER CITY (CBS/AP)  — A San Gabriel couple has been imprisoned in the Middle East and charged with the starving death of their 8-year-old daughter.

Matt and Grace Huang moved to Qatar in 2012 when Matt, a Stanford educated engineer, got a job working on infrastructure improvements for the 2022 World Cup.

In January, however, the pair were arrested after their adopted daughter, Gloria, died.

The youngster, who was adopted at the age of 4 from Ghana, had eating disorders stemming from malnourishment in her early childhood.

To complicate the situation further, the couple, who has two other adopted black children, has run into issues with Qatar officials, who are unfamiliar with U.S. international adoptions.

Police records noted that it was odd they adopted children who were not "good looking" and who didn't share their "hereditary traits."

Edwin Smith, an international law professor at the University of Southern California, said some foreign countries don't accept adoption the way Americans do.

"Cross-national adoptions are suspect in many places. Cross-racial adoptions are completely unheard of. So the idea of an Asian American couple with African children, living in a Middle Eastern country, was beyond the conceptualization of anybody in Qatar. Americans should be very much aware that they can't assume they have the same legal protections that they have in the United States," he said. "In fact, they certainly do not."

Grace's brother released a statement that said, "Matthew and Grace have not only experienced the loss of their daughter, but they are now left to struggle through a foreign court that doesn't seem to understand why they would have even adopted special needs children from Africa."

Meantime, the Huangs' two other children have been banned from leaving the country and are being cared for by their grandmother.

A website called Free Matt and Grace has been dedicated to increasing awareness about the parents' predicament.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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