COVID-19 still leaving adoptive families in limbo

For two adoptive families, the fight to bring home their daughters from India has been a gruelling one

India has passed half a million coronavirus infections as experts advise the government to prioritise reducing mortality over containing the spread of the virus
India has passed half a million coronavirus infections as experts advise the government to prioritise reducing mortality over containing the spread of the virus

In March, the world went into complete lockdown, leaving many adoptive parents in limbo. Svetlana Camilleri, who together with her husband have been trying to grow their family for over six years and had been finally matched with a child from India in September 2019, had to endure complete lockdown and inability to see their prospective daughter.

“After waiting for so long, and getting so far, finally reaching the final stages of the process, everything just come to a standstill. It’s not a nice situation to be in. We’re all disappointed. It’s been hard for us to go from being approved to two days later getting bad news,” Camilleri had told MaltaToday.

Angie and Kevin Farrugia share a similar story, saying they had also been given the green light in March to travel to India to pick up their second daughter – their process had initially begun in September 2018.

“This is our second adoption from India, so we were already familiar with the process. Our first adoption began in 2016, and just one year later in September 2017 we were given the green light to travel to India and pick up our daughter…  Our second adoption was more challenging; originally there was a smaller pool of countries adopting from India, however, that’s changed and as such it’s become more difficult,” Farrugia said. 

Farrugia said that it was heart-breaking to live in limbo, given no indication when international flights would be reopened. “We manage to talk to our daughter every few weeks, and she’s always asking us: ‘when are you coming mama?’ It’s a nightmare.” 

She said adoptions from other countries have still managed to go ahead, citing the case of Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and Italy being able to collaborate with the Haitian government to give adoptive parents clearance to travel. 

“I want the Indian government to understand: we’re not tourists, we’re not going for a holiday, this is a humanitarian mission. We shouldn’t have to wait,” Farrugia said told MaltaToday.

For both couples, the issue lies with the fact that India is currently not issuing visas and as such neither are able to travel. India currently has 491,170 cases of COVID-19 with 15,308 deaths reported so far. Despite Malta International Airport reopening its doors on 30 June, there is no indication as to when India will reopen international flights. 

The agency facilitating the adoption, Agenzija Tama, said that it was in daily talks with institutions trying to find the best way forward. “From a parent’s perspective, the adoption process is completed and the next step is for them to pick up their daughters. The only stumbling block is a logistical one, which definitely us as an adoptions agency and AFAA have no control on,” the agency said. 

Agenzija Tama said that it was waiting for instructions from the India High Commission in Malta as to when India will restart issuing visas. 

However, some good news may be on the horizon. According to reports from India, the country may soon be entering into bilateral agreements with the US, UK, France and Germany to restart international air travel. The reports said that the India government was discussing a “travel bubble” which would permit relatively unrestricted and risk-free travel.

Until that happens unfortunately both couples are left in a situation where the future is far from certain. Reports have come out that children in care homes in the state of Kanpur have tested positive for COVID-19, with 57 confirmed cases so far. This has understandably left both families anxious to have their daughters’ home.

“The original plan was to travel together – my husband, myself and our daughter to India – but that won’t be happening now. Instead my husband will stay in Malta with our daughter, and I will either travel with my sister or alone if that’s not possible. I have my luggage ready, just waiting to be given the go-ahead,” Farrugia.

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