Update: Jason Kenney has announced the Government of Canada is expediting the process for kids who are in the adoption process. At the same time I am hearing that this is the same thing he said a couple of days ago and he didn’t announce any details which as you can imagine, is frustrating adoptive parents considerably. You can read the transcript of Minister Kenney’s speech here.
The CBC National is covering the issue in depth tonight.
Some friends of mine are in the process of adopting twins out of Haiti. Jackie works across the hallway from me and I heard her shouts of joy and shock when the e-mail came to her that her and her husband Greg would be able to adopt twins. It was a mixture of joy and that same freaked out feeling that all of us get when we realize we are about to become parent. They had been approved by the Province of Saskatchewan and the Government of Canada but the adoption on the Haiti side of things would take a couple of years.
Around here we made plans to decorate their nursery for them (an offer they never took us up on), I lobbied Jackie to change their names to Walker and Texas Ranger, and a day has not gone by where I have overheard some excited comments about the boys, warnings about what it means to raise two teenage boys, and a general excitement for what this will mean in their lives.
When the earthquake in Haiti hit, all of us were sick and sick until we heard from Jackie that the boys were okay. All of us breathed a sigh of relief when we heard the orphanage they were in withstood the quake and all of the kids were okay. Within hours though we heard how important it was to get the kids out of Haiti and into custody of their adoptive parents because the resources and space the kids in the adoption process were taking up, was desperately needed by other kids. Within a day or so, the Haitian President released the kids and allowed them to be taken home.
While the rest of the western world arranged for planes to pick up planes and bring them to their new homes, France and Canada have been dragging their feet. Yesterday on Saskatoon’s News Talk Radio, the Hon. Jason Kenney was saying that it was just a rumor that other nations were allowing Haitian orphans in the adoption process to come home despite the images of planes flying home with children in the adoption process. While the rest of the world is acknowledging that the Haitian government and basic infrastructure has disappeared, Minister Kenney was making statements about reviewing each case on a case by case basis and blaming part of the delay on the damaged Canadian embassy in Haiti. In that he is right, the Canadian embassy is damaged and doesn’t have much capacity. The same for other nations. That is why they are loosening up the rules for kids from Haiti who have adoptive parents to go to.
The United States has also loosened visa requirements and one of those planes that was just a rumor is on the front of the New York Times homepage today and children have been connected with their new parents yesterday.
A group of 53 Haitian orphans landed in Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning, the first wave to arrive after the United States loosened its policy on visa requirements to expedite Americans’ adoptions of parentless children living in the post-earthquake ruins.
This isn’t just an issue of truth and spin in politics. Last night Jackie e-mailed me with these photos.
I don’t know if he is going to make it, no one does but I do know there is a good family in Saskatoon who can’t take him home or be with him right now because for some reason, Canada is afraid of taking in adopted kids whose adoptions they have already approved. The President of Haiti, has given the okay for kids to leave the country and WestJet has offered to fly down and pick up the kids. All that is left is permission from the Department of Immigration. Canada has a proud legislative history of cabinet ministers getting personally involved in cases like this and making bold decisions and I hope that the Hon. Jason Kenney will continue that tradition by allowing these children to come to their new homes. Not only may it make a difference in Wilson’s life but the space and resources he is taking up is desperately needed to help other children.
These kids need your help. Please e-mail and call your local MP, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Jason Kenney’s cabinet office in Ottawa and constituency office in Calgary and post a link to your weblog, Twitter, or Facebook and keep the pressure on. So often tragedies like this are so overwhelming that they lose a face. Well, this one has a face, a twin brother, a family. He also has a shortage of food, water, and medical supplies. He doesn’t need to die in Haiti. There is a family, a way to Saskatoon, and the resources to bring him into this “community of communities” we call Canada, all we need now is the political will to make a quick decision that will save lives. Help Wilson with that.