By Ingrid Kelley and David Komer
FOX 2 (WJBK) – Jeff Heydlauff says he and his family felt a calling to adoption. In 2016 Jeff and his wife, Kate, who have two biological children, adopted little Luke from Uganda to join the family. But tragedy soon followed.
“He passed away in 2019 he had a rare lung disease,” Jeff said.
So the family decided to do a second international adoption – this time, a little girl named Ellie from Liberia.
“We had a court hearing in late July in Liberia, Africa, and were granted legal guardianship,” he said. “And we are the parents now of our daughter, Ellie.”
Jeff, his wife Kate, and their children Charlotte and Jack went to Liberia this summer to meet Ellie who was an orphan, and to finalize the adoption process.
“It’s typically two to four weeks,” he said.
So after a few weeks, Jeff and the two older children returned home to Michigan to get ready for the start of the school year.
“We thought Kate and Ellie would be a couple a weeks behind us,” he said.
But instead the family’s joy has turned into unanswered questions and frustration as Kate and Ellie remain in Liberia.
“My wife is over eight weeks in Liberia with no end in sight and it’s really difficult,” Jeff said. “We’ve gone into roadblocks from our government that is something we can’t even fathom.”
The family says it’s the US Government that’s providing the roadblock.
“We’re dealing with the US Embassy and an embassy that has delayed not only our adoption – but six or seven other families in similar positions,” he said.
Jeff and his family continue to fight and refuse to give up.
“Right now we’re being forced to make decisions on whether we need to send our daughter back to the orphanage and have my wife come home and be a mother to the children here,” he said. “Or make a decision to stay there for an indefinite amount of time.”
But the family’s older children insist that their parents hold onto hope.
“They say mom has to stay with Ellie,” he said.
Several lawmakers from Michigan are lending a hand including US Representative Jack Bergman from Michigan his office released a statement that reads in part:
“Congressman Bergman has been in touch with the White House regarding this case and our team has been in communication with the bureaucrats at the agencies holding up this process.
“We feel that we’re being put in this position for political reasons instead of trying to do what’s best for our daughter,” Jeff said.
For now, Kate, a high school teacher, and Ellie remain in a hotel room in Liberia hoping and praying that they can soon get to Michigan where they can all live together as a united family
“She’s our daughter, and we’ll keep fighting,” he said.