A Calgary couple who recently adopted a baby in Colombia is hoping they will be able to get an exemption from the mandatory stay at a quarantine hotel.
Mark and Annie Goodaire are tired but overjoyed. They are finally holding their new baby boy.
“It’s kind of like exhaling. It’s been such a long process. It’s been a stressful process,” Mark said.
The Goodaires are still in Colombia sorting out the final paperwork to bring the five-month-old home.
International adoption has been a long journey for the new parents but the journey home looks like it’s going to take longer than first expected.
They can’t take a more direct route through the U.S. because their baby doesn’t have a visa for that, so that means flying from Colombia to Panama to Toronto, where they will need to stay in a quarantine hotel, and then finally to Calgary.
“I don’t know why the hotel is safer than my home, to be honest. Where is the human side?” Mark said.
The couple requested to be exempt from the mandatory hotel quarantine. They were told by the Public Health Agency of Canada that parents returning from adopting a baby abroad don’t qualify.
“We must regrettably inform you that parent(s) returning from adopting a baby abroad would not qualify for an exemption from pre-entry or arrival testing or the quarantine requirements (including the three-night hotel stopover), as individuals returning to Canada after having travelled abroad to adopt a baby are not included on the exemption list under the order,” read the statement.
“Please note, the baby would qualify for an exemption from the testing requirement, however, they are still required to quarantine for 14 days.”
“We are not just talking about our situation,” Mark said.
“We’re talking about other people who are doing similar things that I think most people would agree is essential. I think leaving this baby to sit in an orphanage for another month or two, to me, that’s cruel. I think it’s absolutely essential that we got here as soon as possible and got our baby home.”
The Goodaires brought their case to Calgary Shepard MP Tom Kmiec, who has been trying to get them an exemption on compassionate grounds with no luck. The response to Kmiec’s office from Health Canada states: “We are aware of the difficult circumstances some families are finding themselves under in these situations.”
“However, adoption is still included under the general class of ‘family reunification’ and is not included in an exemption class under the current order in council,” it said.
“Again, border service officers have some discretion at the border, but ultimately, exemptions cannot be provided in advance.”
Kmiec said his office has received hundreds of calls and emails regarding concerns over the mandatory hotel quarantine stay. He believes that the Goodaires’ case should qualify for a compassionate exemption.
“I think any normal, everyday Canadian who would read it would say this is a compassionate case. There should’ve been a path for these people to be able to apply ahead of time and have a piece of paper from the ministry saying this is a compassionate case,” Kmiec said.
As of Feb. 22, most air passengers entering Canada need to comply with new travel measures that include a hotel quarantine. Passengers must pre-book their quarantine hotel stay before arriving in Canada.