A Canadian man, whose family has been trying for nearly a decade to adopt a stateless girl, says the recent involvement of the Ontario government in their case has heightened their concerns for safety.
Widlene Alexis Earle, 12, was born in the Dominican Republic to a Haitian mom, who died when the girl was very young.
Her adoptive father, Vaden Earle, is from Hamilton but has lived in the Dominican Republic. He first met Widlene at a garbage dump where he was doing humanitarian work with Canadian students. Earle got to know her and her mother as he continued to work in Haiti. When Widlene was four, her mother died, and Earle decided to take the girl in.
For the last eight years, Vaden Earle and his family have been trying to adopt her and bring her to Canada.
After recently getting a rejection letter from the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, the family is starting the process all over again.
“Those documents had already been submitted to the government, so we resubmitted those documents since then,” Earle said.
“It seems that that process has come to a halt, because of provincial involvement.”
Earle, who moved to the Dominican Republic from Hamilton to be with Widlene, added that neither Haiti or the Dominican Republic would claim her. As a result, he said her stateless status has compromised her safety and made her the target of mass deportation sweeps.
For that reason, Earle told Ontario’s Ministry of Children and Youth Services not to share their personal case information with officials in either nation.
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services is often involved in cases that deal with inter-country adoptions, and their role is to verify that the paperwork is accurate.
“I think they maybe underestimated the amount of tension between these two countries, and the reason she’s stateless in the first place,” he said.
“We’re literally in hiding. We can’t have our information out there.”
According to Earle, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services became involved in this case almost two months ago and he learned this week that they went against his wishes. He said he believes both nations now have information that can jeopardize their safety.
“I spoke to some contacts within the Haitian central authority, and they did confirm that it was shared with Dominican authorities as well,” he said.
He believes it was this breach that led to him getting detained for a couple hours by local police in the Dominican Republic on Friday. Earle said he was later taken for a drive, where he was threatened by authorities.
“They got me in a police vehicle and took me about 50 miles down the road, and started to intimidate me,” he explained.
“They really tried to shake me down and scare me into backing off.”
In an email, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services said “ministry officials are still looking into this to find out what has happened.”
Earle said he received two conflicting emails from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services regarding his case. In one dated Oct. 25, Earle said the ministry admitted it communicated information to government officials in Haiti.
The email reads in part: “The ministry has followed up with the authorities in Haiti to confirm the legitimacy of the documents submitted to the ministry in 2012.”
However, a second email was sent to him shortly after CityNews reached out to the province for comment on this story.
Part of that email read: “I can confirm that the ministry has not contacted the Dominican or Haitian authorities. I am sorry that my earlier correspondence could have been interpreted as such.”
The second email also claimed the ministry contacted federal immigration authorities to verify the documents, and not Haitian officials.
At this point, Earle said his concern is that he doesn’t know what kind of information was shared between the nations, and fears it may include their current address.
Because of this, Earle said he has plans to move.
“I’m concerned this has become one of those things where she may start to feel that we’re all in danger all because of helping her,” he said.
“I don’t want her to bare that on her shoulders; she deserves to feel safe.”
CityNews reached out to both the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship for an official statement on the case, but a response was not provided by Wednesday night.