Bringing Owen Home

Update (11/7/10)

The Smiths have decided to move to England in order to adopt Owen from there.  Once the Smiths have adopted Owen in England, they will eventually be able to move back to the U.S. and go through the process of making Owen a U.S. citizen.  The great news right now is that the Smith family is together finally! Christine, Mark, and their son came to Taiwan to meet Owen last Monday.  It is so good to think that Owen is finally in the arms of his mom and dad and playing with his big brother.  We have ALL loved him here–in fact, he’s become one of the favorites of our community–and we are so happy to see him reunited with his family.

Unfortunately, Mark leaves today to go back to the U.S. to continue making preparations for the move while Christine will stay here with the two boys.  I have not had a chance to meet Mark and Christine yet (I’m hoping to do that later today or meet just Christine tomorrow) so I don’t know all the details, but it seems that Mark is still looking for work in England.  As you can guess, finding a job and a home and moving to England is a major prayer concern for this family.  Please continue to lift them up.  Also lift up Christine as she is going to be living as a single mom in a foreign country for a while.  Pray that our community will be able to be Christ to her.  And of course, praise the Lord that Owen is one step closer to being home with his forever family.  I will continue to update as I have information.

Update (8/21/10)–It’s time for a decision!:

Christine Smith announced via Facebook this week that if they do not have any answers about Owen by the first week of October (when her brother gets married), she and her son Luke will be moving to Taiwan.  I believe this means that her husband, Mark, will stay in the U.S. to continue with his work.  If they move to Taiwan, Christine and Luke will come home with Owen when they get approval for Owen’s visa OR they will be in Taiwan for another 1 1/2 years (at which point they can legally adopt him in Taiwan?).  She says that they will be looking into apartments, etc. over the next month and PRAYING that they get approval before that time.  In a later Facebook status, Christine mentions that she will be with Owen within the next two months whether in the U.S., Taiwan, or Canada, so it seems that moving to Canada is another possible option.  Please continue to urgently lift this family to the Lord.  Christine and Mark do not want to be separated from their son any longer, but they also do not want to have to live in different countries for the next two years.  God hears our cries, so cry out to Him on behalf of the Smith family.  God, please bring Owen home.

A Note from Christine Smith (8/7/10):

Thank you everyone for your continued support and prayers. Somehow we will get through this and Owen will be home, where he belongs. Just a clarification, no one has ever suggested that the adoption is not legal, and everyone acknowledges that he is legally our son. They are saying that he simply is not eligible for a visa due to his birth parents still being married, therefore Owen did not meet the definition of an “orphan” and the adoption was from one set of parents to another, without him being relinquished to a licensed orphanage first, which is required. This is not an issue with a single birth parent. In a nut shell, that is the problem. Pray that USCIS sees past this sticking point and allows us to bring our son home!

Thanks for the clarification, Christine.  We’re praying for you!

Update (8/7/10):

Owen’s first birthday is in two days, and there is still no word from USCIS on their decision for Humanitarian Parole for Owen.  Pray for a quick positive decision, and pray for the hearts of Owen’s family as they are so discouraged by the wait.  If Owen is approved for Humanitarian Parole, the Smiths can give power of attorney to someone else to bring Owen home.  There have been many families traveling to and from Taiwan in the last several months–staff families returning home for the summer and adoptive parents coming to pick up their little ones.  So many people have been willing to take Owen home if it was the right time.  We have two families that will be leaving Taiwan within the next month, so pray that one of these families will be able to take Owen home to his family!

Update (5/13/10):

Dear Friends and Family,

It is with a sad heart that I write to inform you that USCIS (U.S. Citizen & Immigration Services) has revoked Owen’s approval for the adoption.  The next step if for the family to fill out a Humanitarian Parole application.  From the USCIS website: “Humanitarian parole is used sparingly to bring someone who is otherwise inadmissible into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a compelling emergency.”  Christine and Mark’s plan is to receive Humanitarian Parole for Owen and bring him to the States, renew Humanitarian Parole at the one year expiration point, and then seek citizenship for Owen after he has lived in the U.S. for two years.  Obviously, the situation has become much more difficult, and the heartache is not over for this family.  Please continue to fervently lift them up to our Father.

In Him, Christel

Update (5/3/10):

Dear Friends,

The last time I wrote, Mark and Christine Smith were in Taiwan awaiting news about the adoption of Owen and hoping to be able to take him home with them.  Sadly, the adoption process has been prolonged and the Smiths had to return to the U.S. without Owen.

I’d like to provide an update on the current situation so that you can continue to lift up this family.  Previously, the Smiths obtained a U.S. passport from USCIS (U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services) in St. Louis.  When the Smiths were in Taiwan, AIT (the American Institute in Taiwan–the closest thing we have to an American Embassy) denied Owen’s visa (to travel to the U.S.) because they said USCIS had issued the passport in error.  AIT claims that Owen’s adoption is illegal because both of his birth parents are living and married to one another.  However, there is documented evidence of abuse by Owen’s birth parents, and they have given up their rights to him.  AIT has said that USCIS must review Owen’s case, and if, after review, USCIS chooses to uphold its original decision to issue Owen’s passport, then AIT will issue him a visa to travel to the U.S.  If this happens, the adoption will be finalized.

There are a few pieces of good news in this very difficult situation:  1)  The Smiths have contacted a congresswoman who is advocating for them and pushing the case through as quickly as possible, 2) The Smiths have the authority to issue Power of Attorney to another adult in Taiwan, and this means that the Smiths do not have to be present in Taiwan to finalize the adoption; furthermore, there are several families who will be traveling to the U.S. between now and the summer, so if Owen’s adoption is finalized, someone else could bring him to the States and the Smiths would not have to make another trip to Taiwan, and 3) as of last Friday, the paperwork has all been sent from AIT to USCIS, so the decision process can begin.

This has been an incredibly difficult time for the Smith family.  I can’t imagine the pain they felt leaving their son in Taiwan as they flew home to the States.  Though there is some good news, the process is far from over and there might still be hurdles to overcome.  Please continue to lift up this family, the court system, Owen, and all others involved.  Ask for understanding on the part of the people making decisions.  Ask that Owen will be legally adopted by the Smiths and united with his family soon.  Let’s give this to the Father together.

Faithfully, Christel

Update (4/24/10): Christine and Mark Smith have decided to extend their stay in Taiwan for a few days.  They have been contacting congressmen, senators, and lawyers in the U.S. looking for someone who will be a powerful advocate.  They are hoping to stay in Taiwan long enough to see if anything comes of their efforts.  Their hope is that someone with political power in the U.S. will be able to persuade AIT to alter its decision.

Original Message:

Dear Friends,

I do not have much time to write just now, but I have an urgent prayer request.  As you know, I am connected with an adoption agency called His Hands Taiwan here in Dashe, Taiwan.  There is an 8 month-old baby named Owen who is being adopted by a family, the Smiths, from the U.S.  The Smiths are here in Taiwan to pick up Owen, but AIT (the American Institute in Taiwan) has refused to issue a visa for Owen to return to the States.  There are complications with Owen’s adoption because he still has two living parents that are married to each other; however, the reason he is being given up for adoption is because of abuse in his home and because he is not wanted by his birth parents.  Unless a miracle happens that will prompt AIT to issue a visa for Owen within the day, the Smiths will have to leave him in Taiwan and go home to America to fight this battle.  Please pray for the Smiths who are heartbroken over the thought of leaving their son here.  Pray that God will work a miracle and provide a visa for baby Owen.  We are trusting God together for this one!


Clarification: AIT is the American Institute of Taiwan.  It’s like a US Embassy, but because Taiwan is not technically its own country (because it’s still part of China) it cannot have its own Embassy.  Christine and Mark Smith have already applied for and received a passport for Owen from their home state in the U.S.  Now AIT is telling them that the adoption is not legal (because of the status of Owen’s birth parents), suggesting that the passport be revoked by the state in which it was issued, and refusing to issue a visa for Owen’s travel out of Taiwan.  This is the problem with which the Smiths are currently dealing.

Owen w/ his parents, Mark & Christine, & friends

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