August 23, 2014 5:55 pm

Families frustrated over government’s handling of overseas adoption

EDMONTON – Families waiting to bring their adopted children home say they’re caught in the middle of a bureaucratic stalemate between the Canadian and Congolese governments.

The Nichols have legally adopted their son Chrisopher, but have been waiting a year and a half for him to be allowed into Canada.

Congo won’t issue an exit visa until the Canadian government says he can enter, but Canada won’t allow him to enter until Congo grants an exit visa.

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It’s a bureaucratic stalemate affecting 11 Canadian families including the Nichols.

“Frustrated. Very, very frustrated I would say,” explains Cindy Nichol. “At the end of the day we just want to be together. We’re missing out on years and months with him.”

The Nichols blame the Canadian government. They’ve pushed for answers for more than a year, and watched as parents in other countries welcomed their Congolese children home.

“Some accountability would be great and acknowledging my son isn’t just a file number. He’s an actual human being stuck in a third world country,” says Nichol.

The Wharton family sympathizes with the Nichols having also gone through the process of adopting in Congo. The two families started the adoption process at the same time, but the Whartons have been one of the lucky families who have managed to bring their child to Canada.

“It’s amazing. I mean we just feel so blessed. Our hearts break for all the families that are waiting. We hope and pray that they’re united with their kids soon,” says Nicole Wharton.

Nicole Wharton went to Congo to fight to get her daughter Amaria’s visa with no guarantee it would happen. But after spending five weeks in the African country she managed to bring Amaria to Canada.

“It’s just crazy because if I wouldn’t have gone we’d be stuck in the same wait as everyone else and that’s a year less that we could have together, bonding and all that important stuff.”

Wharton says the biggest frustration for families looking to adopt overseas is the lack of communication by the Canadian government.

“It doesn’t take much to just reach out and have some communication of what’s going on and what the stall outs are.”

Global News asked for an interview with the immigration minister but were refused.

In a statement, a ministry spokesperson suggests Congo laws are the problem: “We recognize that this is a very difficult situation for adoptive parents. (We) will continue to monitor this issue closely and liaise with the appropriate authorities.”

The Nichols aren’t satisfied with that response.

Their bureaucratic nightmare has already caused them to miss to two Christmases and birthdays.

“Those are times we’ll never get back. We’ve missed him learning how to walk. That kind of stuff too,” says Cindy Nichol.

With files from Fletcher Kent

© Shaw Media, 2014

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