A Saskatoon woman has been stuck in Pakistan for the past three years while trying to adopt a child.
Waheeda Afridi left her husband Ashfaq behind in 2010 so she could adopt her sister's newborn son.
They expected to bring the child,Ajjab, to Canada after he was born, however, navigating the adoption process has been a struggle. When Waheeda wanted to leave Pakistan her application was refused by the Saskatchewan government.
'I think what is happening right now, is this family has been stuck in the interpretation of a law' —Haidah Amirzadeh, the family's lawyer
Haidah Amirzadeh, the lawyer representing the family, said the adoption was approved by Pakistani courts.
"I think what is happening right now, is this family has been stuck in the interpretation of a law," Amirzadeh said. "The mother had severed her rights of parenthood and the court had ordered that the family can move the child permanently."
In Canada, adoption severs legal ties between parent and child. As of July this year the Canadian government stopped recognizing Pakistani adoptions because it says the country does not have an equivalent to its own adoption process.
It's part of an attempt to streamline inter-country adoptions across the provinces.
"I think what happened is because each province has their own adoption laws...different provinces in the past have issues a no objection letter, which is a requirement for the immigration process," said Amizadeh.
"But my understanding is that provinces have been communicating with each other and they are trying to make it consistent across the country, which is why they stopped accepting from Pakistan."
A change that has left the Afridi family separated and distraught.
"We are being apart for the past three years and we are suffering," said Waheeda. "I am a Canadian citizen—I have been a Canadian citizen and all we want is to have a family and have a child and to start a new life with a child," she said.
Amizadeh said the family went through the adoption process in 2007 and were approved, so they did not think it would be so difficult. She said the Afridis had a friend who had also gone through a similar adoption, so they were confident there would be no problem.
Ashfaq said the family was told the process would take between six months and one year.
"Well, I was thinking, if they're not going to let him come I will probably give up on this country and leave," he said. "The Canadian Embassy did not respond within the timeframe - finally within two years we got a response that they can not issue a visa."
Province will try to help
Premier Brad Wall said his office is working with the justice and social services departments to see if there is a way to intervene.
"The Hague Convention is not something to be taken lightly in terms of adoption, it's there for a reason, to protect kids, to protect families as well," said Wall.
"However, just on the face of it, there just seems to be a circumstance here where this is very clearly a very legitimate and important adoption. So if there's anything we can do, we have some discretionary ability as a provincial government to move on it, I've asked that officials find it so we can be a force for good in this particular adoption," he said.
Wall said this case opens the doors to possibly reviewing the policy, but in the meantime they province will focus on trying to help the family.