A Surrey couple is making a direct appeal to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help get their adopted son home in time for Christmas.
Shelley and Fred Muntau have been waiting for three years to bring their son Pedro home from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). But this week, just when they thought it would happen, their hopes were dashed yet again.
“You can only be told so many times and have it not happen so many times,” said Shelley Muntau, speaking with Global News from Brussels. She and her husband flew there 11 days ago, based on a promise the necessary documents would be issued and their son released.
That still has not happened.
The Muntaus are one of 11 families, including several in B.C., who’ve adopted children from the DRC. It’s a process that, in some cases, has taken years and cost the families thousands of dollars. Last July, the Muntas were caught in limbo: the Congolese government said it couldn’t issue an exit letter for Pedro, their adopted son, until the Canadian government issued him a Visa. However, officials here said they couldn’t do that without the exit letter.
“In part that was the issue, but truly what it was, was there was this ever lengthening moratorium coming out of Congo,” said Andrea Bastin, a regulated immigration consultant who’s been helping many of their families with the adoption process.
Bastin said the moratorium on adoptions has not been lifted, but the Congolese government has been honouring some adoptions already in the works before it took effect.
In November, 11 children were released. So, when they were promised this time that Pedro would be next, Bastin said everyone was hopeful.
“We felt like hey, there’s a track record here. This is great. This is going to be just like last time,” said Bastin. “And it isn’t like last time.”
The Muntaus said they’re running out of time and money, and have already taken out a second mortgage on their home. Now they’re desperate for some high-level intervention, calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to get involved.
“We’ve got Foreign Affairs engaged, but we’ve reached the point where we really need Trudeau to get involved,” said Muntau.
Global News contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs who said this is an immigration issue, and it’s that department who’d be best suited to comment.
Senator Mobina Jaffer, who’s been working with the Muntaus and Bastin on the case, said the situation for the children that remain is dire.
Immigration experts say at this point, some kind of high level intervention is needed.
“Hopefully, if this scenario has the attention of our government, it can be resolved – it can be resolved quickly,” said Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Richard Kurland.
Kurland said if it’s the visa that’s the issue, than the Canadian government should make the first move.
“Canada’s law is crystal clear: family reunification is an objective. So, diplomatically, this is not the Soviet missile crisis. The Canadian foreign services officer…should release the visa, so that Congo gives the exit permit allowing the child to come here safely.”
In the meantime, Bastin and the Muntau’s have launched a social media campaign, hoping to get the attention of the Canadian people and the Prime Minister.
“Prime Minister Trudeau needs to make a call,” said Bastin. “He needs to call President [Joseph] Kabila and we need his help to get these children home.”