PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – A Portland family was just weeks away from adopting a toddler from China when the coronavirus halted travel plans to pick up their new son.
Rachel Leiber told FOX 12 she purchased plane tickets to fly to China on March 5 and was planning on traveling with her mother to finish the adoption process and bring the little boy home.
“We were planning to travel to Jilin province, which is in northern China, to the city of Changchun,” Leiber said. “But given the situation, that is currently delayed.”
Leiber said it was tough as the trip was drawing near, and the outbreak was becoming more alarming.
“I’ll admit, I was an emotional wreck,” Leiber said. “It was very difficult. I didn’t have a lot to go on. My husband and I were kind of watching the news every six to eight hours.”
The turning point, said Leiber, was when the adoption agency, Holt International, stepped in to share updates and reassure the new parents that their child was safest in the orphanage.
“I really commend them,” Leiber said. “They really have focused on the safety of the children, the safety of the staff and really being pragmatic as we were coming out of the Lunar New Year in China.”
Leiber said Holt International recently made the decision to suspend all adoption-related travel in China.
“Once we got that letter from Holt, saying we all need to take a deep breath and take a pause – and also remembering that the safest place for our kiddo is inside of that orphanage, where he’s protected from exposure. The staff are limited and access is limited,” Leiber said.
The agency told FOX 12 that about 250 families are impacted.
“We have 10 families that actually had tickets purchased and were ready to travel and five families that are just at the point of getting ready to travel,” said Susan Cox, vice president of policy and external affairs at Holt International.
“If you were packed, prepared and everything was ready to go after all this time, months in fact, and then to be told you couldn’t go that would be difficult of course, added to that is the uncertainty of how long this will be,” Cox added.
Leiber said she is hopeful that things will calm down and she’ll perhaps be able to go get her son in a couple of months.
In the meantime, she’s staying positive.
“We just have to keep our eye on what’s the most important thing -- helping the people of China right now and manage through some of the emotional ups and downs of anticipating being new parents but having to wait a little bit longer than we already planned,” Leiber said.
Holt International is raising money to help Chinese orphanages keep children safe from coronavirus. The agency says the orphanages are running short on items like masks and cleaning supplies. So far, they’ve raised more than $45,000. If you’d like to help, you can find more information by clicking here.
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