An Abbotsford mother who spent months in Africa waiting for her newly adopted son's immigration papers to be processed was forced to return to British Columbia alone after a health scare landed her in hospital.
An emotional reunion between sisters and friends unfolded at the Vancouver International Airport Tuesday after Kim Moran's flight landed, but two of the most important people in her life were missing from the picture: her two-year-old son, Ayo, and husband, Clark.
“Probably the hardest part was they dropped me off at the airport and knowing… I was saying goodbye and coming home by myself," Kim told CTV News at the airport. "I felt so alone there and I just kept trying to get help and information."
Kim, whose multiple sclerosis flared up last week, had been in Ghana since the summer after she and Clark flew to Nigeria to finalize Ayo's adoption. Thinking the process wouldn't take more than a few weeks, Clark returned to Canada, leaving Kim and Ayo in Ghana.
But more than three months later, the paperwork still isn't complete.
"All we’re trying to do is give a little boy who didn't have a family, who doesn’t have a home, a life and a home here in Canada and it just feels like we’ve had roadblock after roadblock,” Kim said. “To know that you invest and pour so much into this fragile little human… even the risk that some of that might be undone is just so heart-breaking for me.”
Last week, Kim posted to Facebook saying she'd begun to feel numb in her limbs and was unable to walk. Her condition got so bad that she had to be hospitalized in Accra. This week, Clark flew back to Ghana to take care of Ayo so that she could return home and receive the necessary medical attention.
"She can't take care of herself right now… It's so out of her character too," Kim's sister, Lindsay Jeans, told CTV. "She's so strong and it's devastating."
"She went there healthy. She had no symptoms at the time. She was in remission," family friend Barb Pichette added.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has told CTV that 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.
The Morans' paperwork was received in February 2017. A year and nine months later, the family's adoption process is at the top end of the government's estimated timeline, but has not exceeded it.
In a statement on Tuesday, the office of Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said in part, "the Mission in Accra is currently working to process this application expeditiously," but added that it must do its due diligence in order to protect the child.
"In cases of intercountry adoptions, our first priority is to protect the safety and well-being of the children involved," the statement read. "As signatories to the Hague convention, we have an obligation to ensure that all international adoptions respect the laws of both the sending and receiving countries."
Ayo's new grandparents also made a plea directly to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a Liberal campaign stop in Ontario on Tuesday.
"I said, 'It's about Ayo, a 2 ½-year old who's being adopted and our high commission in Accra, Ghana isn't doing anything,’" Rick Moran, Clark's father, said.
Despite how long the process is taking, Kim remains hopeful her family will be reunited soon.
"Being back in Canada, I want to go home and put up our stockings and get a Christmas tree, but I’m not going to celebrate Christmas here by myself.”
With files from CTV Vancouver's Allison Hurst