Abbotsford mom stuck in Ghana with adopted son hospitalized after MS flare-up
Published Thursday, November 22, 2018 1:09PM PST Last Updated Thursday, November 22, 2018 5:48PM PST
An Abbotsford, B.C. mother who was been stuck in Ghana for months as she waits for the Canadian government to process the paperwork that would allow her and her newly adopted son to come home has been hospitalized after her multiple sclerosis flared up earlier this week.
Kim Moran posted to Facebook Tuesday saying she had "lost normal feeling in both of my feet and both of my hands" the day before.
"I fell asleep last night in tears, sobbing; literally crying out to God to take it all away," she wrote. "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?'"
Kim and her husband, Clark, recently adopted a young boy named Ayo from Nigeria. The couple travelled to Ghana on Aug. 1 to process the last bit of paperwork before they could bring him back to B.C.
Their file has been complete for weeks, but they're still waiting for Canadian officials to approve it.
Clark left the West African country in September, not thinking he'd be away from his family for very long. Kim and Ayo have been in Ghana ever since.
"Because of these last few months and her being out-of-country and not having access to the stuff that's helped us over the last number of years, we believe that she's in the midst of a relapse right now," he told CTV News Thursday.
"I don't understand… We've gone above and beyond… For some reason, they're still stuck and I'm here feeling helpless."
When they first spoke to CTV News in October, the couple said they believed they filled out all the paperwork correctly and were told the last phase of the adoption process would take no more than a week.
In early November, Kim said she received a response from the office of Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen saying it "gives priority treatment to applications for adopted children," but that the ministry could not give her a timeline for when she and Ayo would be allowed back to Canada.
Clark said he'd spoken with a federal immigration spokesperson who told him this is a fairly typical case and adoptions can take time because of the many of checks and balances involve.
"Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) is sensitive to the emotional stress that can be caused when there are issues with cases involving children," a spokesperson for the government department told CTV in a statement.
"Nonetheless, IRCC must take the time needed to ensure that all intercountry adoption cases involving children comply with Canadian law, the law in the country in which the adoption takes place and with our international obligations."
The IRCC said under ideal circumstances, the two-step adoption and immigration process can take between six and eight months, but that timeframe can be as long as two years depending on the child's country of origin and other factors.
"In order to ensure that the best interests of the child are met, intercountry adoption is a rigorous process," the statement read. "IRCC must be satisfied that the child has not been sold, trafficked or abducted from their parents, that documentation for the adoptee is valid, that the adoption is bona fide and is not an adoption of convenience, and that the prospective adoption creates a genuine parent-child relationship."
Clark said he has "very difficult time not being offended" by the idea that he and Kim would traffic their son, adding that the government is now hiding behind the notion of what's in "the best interest of the child."
"My wife's stuck without any help and our son saw his mom today in a hospital bed and dad wasn't there to help make it any better and so it's really hard right now," he said. "What's really in the best interest of our child is that he's home here in Canada with his parents."
The family's story has made headlines and sparked outcry online. As of Thursday afternoon, a Change.org petition calling on the federal government to act had garnered more than 8,800 signatures.
It has also drawn the attention Abbotsford Conservative MP Ed Fast, who says his office has received mixed messages about whether the Morans' case has been marked as urgent or is being processed in the same timeframe as regular adoptions.
"What's happened to the Moran is heartless. It is cruel," he said Thursday. "We found out a month later that the file had not been flagged as urgent despite their assurances in writing that it had been flagged, so there's something wrong in the department there something terribly wrong."
Kim posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed Thursday, saying she'd been admitted for "testing, treatment and observation."
"I'll keep you posted, but in the meantime say a little prayer for me," she wrote, adding that Ayo is staying with friends.
It's still unclear when Kim and her son will be able to return to B.C., but Clark remains hopeful that they've made progress.
"I'm not asking for any sort of special treatment or anything like that. I'm just asking for a visa for our son so that he can come home with his mom, so that way I'm not forced to decide who it is that I care for," he said.
"If we're looking for a Christmas wish or something like that, that's it. Just give me that. Just give me the stamp that's necessary to bring my son home so that he can be with his family, so that we can be together, so that we can just put an end to all this nonsense."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Maria Weisgarber