Abbotsford couple’s long wait to bring adopted son home from Nigeria finally over
They travelled to Nigeria last Aug. 1, hoping to be home with their newly adopted son by his new mom’s 34th birthday on Oct. 2.
Not in their worst nightmare could Kim and Clark Moran have imagined it would be almost one year before the three would be together at their home in Abbotsford — 50 weeks of taking turns flying to Africa to look after now three-year-old Ayo while red tape and runarounds Kafka would’ve blushed at using as plot devices made them dizzy and despairing.
It’s almost too good to be true now that the family of three is home in Abbotsford.
“Ayo has had his Canadian citizenship approved, it better be over now,” Kim said. “But it still feels surreal.
“So many things happened over the last year we’re still expecting the worst, which is a tough way to live.
“When you go from being a hopeful and optimistic person to all of a sudden expecting the worst to happen at every turn it’s awful, it’s a heavy burden.”
The couple began the process to adopt a child from Nigeria four years ago and, when they flew there last summer they expected it would take four months, max, to get Ayo home.
Not a chance.
Nigeria has no Canadian immigration office, so after completing the paperwork for Ayo, which included giving him his new last name, the family travelled to Accra on the Ghanaian coast to process the final phase of paperwork there so that Ayo could come to Canada and become a Canadian citizen.
And Canadian immigration officials dragged their heels, leaving Kim feeling betrayed at the time. Then, in Ghana, she was checked into a hospital after her multiple sclerosis began acting up. She couldn’t feel her hands or feet and had to fly home for treatment. From that point, Kim and Clark took turns spending eight week on, eight weeks off in Africa.
During the ordeal, in which Ayo — his name means joy — dealt with events fairly well, the Morans connected with people from all over B.C. and around the world.
The couple hasn’t sat down to work out the final cost (just their room in Accra cost more than $2,000 a month), but their best guess (aside from their sanity, Clark joked) is between $120,000 and $150,000, largely funded by a GoFundMe campaign.
“Originally we thought it might cost us $40,000 and we were totally willing to cover that ourselves,” Kim said. “Canadians and people worldwide gave $5 to $5,000. I think they pictured themselves in our situation.
“Because of them, we don’t have to think about bankruptcy or selling our house.”
The couple are co-lead pastors at the Abbotsford Pentecostal Assembly and have been married 12 years. About a year after beginning the paperwork, the couple got Zola, a Boston Terrier, to greet their new child when he eventually arrived. Zola is now three.
“When we got to Abbotsford on Wednesday, Ayo loved meeting his puppy,” Kim said. “He had a stuffed dog (in Africa) that looked just like her and he slept with it every night while we were away.”
Ayo had an appointment for a checkup at B.C. Children’s Hospital on Friday morning, then the family had lunch at a vegan pizza and ice cream place in Gastown before heading to Crab Park for some leisure time, and then the drive back to Abbotsford.
Kim’s MS is in check again, she’s doing really well, she said.
“I’ve started running again so that’s good news.”
As the reality sinks in, as the finality of their ordeal slowly gains acceptance in their psyches, Clark said the big thing he’s thought about the last couple of days is the response when the couple opened up about their plight.
“We invited people into our difficult moments,” he said. “Because a number of people were there when things were really hard, now they get to enjoy and share the celebration.
“The response and support has been overwhelming, not just from family but from the community.”
“We’ve had hundreds of messages from around the world,” Kim added, “people sobbing, they’re so glad we’re home.
“We had no idea how many people were vested in this with us.”