Paperwork Leaves Canadian Family Separated During Adoption Process

Adopting a 2-year-old boy from Nigeria has not been a simple process for B.C. residents, Kim and Clark Moran.

The Morans' started their adoption process three and a half years ago. In July, they received the long-awaited call - they had been paired with Ayo, a little boy living in an orphanage in Nigeria. 

Having already completed extensive paperwork, various home studies, and receiving a ‘letter of no objection’ (LONO) from the province, all that was left to do was board a plane in early August and go meet their son, at which point they could file for adoption in Nigeria and then citizenship with the Canadian Immigration office in Accra, Ghana.

After already going through a long and tiring process of trying to adopt Ayo, the family packed in anticipation to be home within a few short weeks.

The adoption was finalized and legalized quickly and efficiently, with just one step left to complete: applying for a Canadian citizenship. 

Four months later, Clark Moran and Ayo still remain in Accra, Ghana after traveling there for the citizenship process.

This begs the question: why are they still there? The shocking reality of this situation is that the file remains in a queue and unopened. There is nothing wrong with the paperwork and there is nothing missing; it simply has not been opened. This is a situation where we have no one to blame but our own country and our own immigration system. 

On October 17th, Kim first wrote to Canada's Minister of Immigration: 

“Dear Honourable Ahmed Hussen - Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship,

On August 20th we finalized the adoption of our 2 year old son in Ibadan, Nigeria. We used a reputable adoption agency and ensured that all documents were properly authenticated to ensure that there were no unanswered questions for Canadian officers.  Shortly after the adoption was finalized we completed and submitted part 2 of our son’s citizenship application for a adopted child, complete with all required supporting documents.

It has now been a month since part 2 of our citizenship application has been submitted and we have been told repeatedly that our file is still in queue and after 4 weeks has still not even been looked at.

We have contacted consular services, our MP and tried to get answers from the immigration office, but no one has been able to get a clear answer from the immigration office in Accra. 

We are not looking for special treatment or to bypass the necessary application review process, we are simply asking that our file be opened so it can be processed.

I am currently residing in Accra, Ghana while I wait to hear about our application. My husband had to return to Canada on September 21st and I am now caring for our 2 year son alone. To complicate our situation further I have been battling health challenges and our extended stay has meant that I have been missed the mandatory regular monitoring required for the treatment I underwent last year for multiple sclerosis. 

Thank you for your heart and efforts to make Canada a safe a welcoming home to people from all over the world. Thank you for making it possible for our son to grow up in our incredible country as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Kimberlee Moran”

Kim received no response to this letter. 

She wrote again on November 1st:

"Dear Honourable Ahmed Hussen,

I am a Canadian citizen who is earnestly trying to travel home to British Columbia, but I have hit some roadblocks in my efforts and I am humbly requesting any assistance you can offer to help me return home. 

I have submitted an application for citizenship for an adopted child to the citizenship office in Accra, Ghana and have recently been informed that my application may take months to review because all of the documents needs to be verified and authenticated, a process that was already completed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja. 

I wholeheartedly agree that documents should be authenticated and verified to ensure that adoptions are completed ethically and in the best interest of the child, however since all of our documents have already been authenticated and verified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this explanation seems unreasonable and a delay leaves me stranded in an unfamiliar country with dwindling finances and deteriorating health.

We have submitted all required paperwork and supporting documentation including a verified birth certificate, an authenticated adoption bond and adoption order, letters of release and approval, a child background study, a letter of no objection from the province of BC and our Part one approval letter showing that we are eligible to adopt a child who can become a Canadian citizen. We have used a reputable and approved adoption agency and have gone above and beyond to ensure our paperwork is in order. I understand adoption cases can be messy and complicated, but if you look into our application you will quickly see that is not the case here.

We are pleading for your help and asking that someone intervene so that our application can be processed as soon as possible. 

Sincerely, 

Kimberlee Moran"

She finally received a response on November 5th:

“Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) gives priority treatment to applications for adopted children.  The Department works to complete these applications as quickly as possible.  

...

Our records indicate that Part 1 of your application was approved on September 21, 2017, and that Part 2 of the application is currently in queue for review the Canadian visa office in Accra.  Unfortunately, I cannot provide a timeframe for its completion.”

After sixteen weeks, Kim and Ayo still remained in Accra with no end in sight.

Kim suffers with MS, and as such has missed her checkups and appointments for the last three months.  With no access to health care she now faces the stark reality of what that means. Kim wrote on November 20th:

"Yesterday I lost normal feeling in both of my feet and both of my hands. All 4 of my limbs are numb. All 4 limbs. 

I have MS, an incurable neurological disease, so I know these things can happen, but you still hope it won’t happen to you. You always hope you’ll be the exception, not the rule.  

I fell asleep last night in tears, sobbing; literally crying out to God to take it all away. As I lay alone in an apartment in west Africa, I was gripped by fear; “is this is beginning of disability for me? What does this mean for me as a new parent? How am I supposed to get medical care if I can’t get back to Canada?” 

The family is currently separated. Clark had to return home to work, where he is a Pastor at a church in Abbotsford, B.C., and Kim stayed behind, refusing to leave without their son. As Kim’s worst nightmare came to light, Clark was not able to be by her side. On November 22nd, Kim was hospitalized in Accra, and Ayo was separated from his mom while she was receiving medical attention.

With no other option, Clark flew to Accra in order to care for Ayo, and Kim has now returned home without her husband, without her son, and is left alone to seek medical attention.

With Kim’s dwindling health, and thousands of people calling out to Justin Trudeau and to various immigration offices, the issue remains unacknowledged and unresolved despite media attention as well. 

On Tuesday, Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen released a statement stating “the Mission in Accra is currently working to process this application expeditiously. In cases of intercountry adoptions, our first priority is to protect the safety and well-being of the children involved”

While this statement makes us feel warm and fuzzy about knowing our country cares about the safety of children being adopted, it must be noted that it is a well stated and a simple buyout to the problem at hand. The process that the couple faces is redundant, considering they have worked hand-in-hand with the Nigerian and Canadian government authorities, and all necessary process have already taken place.

The sad reality is that Kim and Clark are not the only couple who have found themselves in this situation; there are many more held up by red tape. 

In a country that promotes immigration and housing refugees, we must ask how it is that we turn our backs on those families who are just trying to bring their children home. How is it that parents who love their children unconditionally and can provide a safe and loving home get stuck fighting for their health? Fighting for their family? And fighting their own country just to make their family whole?

And at what point does the Prime Minister or Minister of Immigration personally acknowledge the situation?