9 July 2007

Nigeria: Agony of a Mother in Adoption Palaver

Lagos — Nigeria's child-adoption regulations again became the issue of public discourse when Nigerian born, Canadian citizen, Pauleen Duru left Nigeria last Thursday with the memory of her six-month-old adopted baby's cries still ringing in her ears.

The Calgary registered nurse was forced to make what she said was a shattering decision to leave her adopted Nigerian child, namely Tiki Andrea, with her sister in Nigeria because she was unable to obtain a Canadian visa for the infant.

"I had to abandon her, That's what it feels like", said Duru

Eventually, Duru, 40, returned to Calgary on a flight from Frankfurt with her son Andy, 13 although members of the Canada-based International Adoption Families Association in Alberta have been sending her money to keep her going through the past few months and have also been talking to the government and the media on her behalf.

Duru, who had been in Nigeria since January trying to work through the adoption process and get visa papers for her new daughter, Andrea said she chose the difficult route of attempting an international adoption in Nigeria because she wanted to do something to help a child in her native country, which is beset with poverty, violence and political instability.

Duru said she had all her paperwork in order before leaving Canada, but for the past few months she has been unable to get a straight answer from the Canadian High Commission in Accra, Ghana, as to when she might succeed in getting a visa.

According to her calculations, she had expected to be back in Calgary with the baby and her son by March, but a long list of delays ensued. According to her, necessary paperwork from the federal government was sent to her house in Calgary while she was in Nigeria, and questions about the child's medical report seemed to have played a role in stifling the process.

As it is, Duru's son has already missed a half year of school and will likely have to repeat Grade 8, and she is broke after spending much of her savings on medication, travel and supplies for the baby.

"I feel like I did everything right," she said last Thursday. "I'm so confused."

On their part, Karen Shadd-Evelyn, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada in Ottawa, said she cannot speak about individual cases, however, she said the government regularly gives a high priority to international adoptions.

"I think the procedure is that you wait until you've been advised that the visa is ready to be issued, and then you go. A person does have to wait until the visa is ready to be issued before they go to pick up the child. I can't stress that enough said Shadd Evelyn.

Adding: "If everything had been processed, the visa would have been issued."

Canadians are increasingly adopting from African countries such as Ethiopia, but few children are adopted from Nigeria, a country with no formal adoption agreements with Canada.

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