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Heydlauff Adoption in Liberia

Staff member Kate Heydlauff faces challenges with pending adoption in Liberia.
Photo Courtesy: Kate Heydlauff

   On July 22, science and math teacher Kate Heydlauff and her family traveled to Monrovia, Liberia to get their newly adopted daughter, Ellie. When they arrived in Liberia, the hope was that they would be able to take home their daughter after a few weeks, but the adoption process was taking longer than expected. So, in the middle of August, Hydlauff’s husband and their two kids went back home to Traverse City, to return for the school year. The Heydlauff’s realized that millions of kids around the world need a family. 

  “We strongly believe every child should have the opportunity to have a loving family and we knew that we could open our home to more children,” said Heydlauff. 

  After their last adoption of their son, Luke, they wanted to give more children opportunities to have a good life filled with love and support. 

  “In 2019, we started the adoption process once again. Unfortunately, many countries are closing their doors to international adoption. However, Liberia is still open and we decided to pursue it. In 2021, we were matched with Ellie,” said Heydlauff. 

 While the rest of the family came back home to TC in August, Heydlauff has been with their daughter until the end of September, where she will be heading home to her family, without Ellie. While she has been there, Heydlauff has said it has not been easy to be away from her family. 

  “It’s very lonely. My husband, Jeff, and our two older kids were here the first 3 weeks and then had to return home. I’ve been here now for 9 weeks. That’s a long time for our family to be separated,” said Heydlauff.

 Although Heydlauff has been stuck in Liberia with their daughter, and it has taken a toll on their family, they are staying strong for their daughter. 

  “I have never seen anyone do it with as much strength as she has, I already knew that she was strong, and I have just learned even more how amazing she is,” said Cassie Kraus, Heydlauff’s good friend. 

  In most cases of international adoption, it is the foreign countries that hold up the adoption. But in the Heydlauff’s case, and many other families’ cases, it is the United States Government that is the issue. 

  “Their inaction and their lack of communication and diligence on these adoption cases are ultimately hurting the kids in Liberia, more than anyone else. They are the ones that are stuck in the children’s homes, they are the ones that are not able to travel home with their family,” Kraus said. 

  To try and speed up the process, they needed to get the attention of the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken. Friends and family of the Heydlauffs did a media blast to help bring their situation to light.

  “We did a large social media blast in hopes of gaining the attention of Secretary Antony Blinken. His staff never did reach out. However, we were able to get some media coverage on our case, and others that are stuck here in Liberia.” said Heydlauff. 

  The U.S. Embassy’s last words have left the Heydlauff family distraught and faced with such hard news to process.

  “The [U.S.] Embassy in Liberia sent our case back to the USCIS, [the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services], for further review. They will not tell us why and would not give us a reason why it took over six weeks to make this determination. So now we have to wait for our case to be reviewed at the USCIS, which could be two to four months,” said Heydlauff. 

  As of now, they do not have a set date to return to Ellie, the Heydlauff’s are in a long holding period waiting to see their daughter, but they are not giving up hope. 

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About the Contributors
Emilia Shoemaker
Emilia Shoemaker, Social Media Manager
Emilia is a Senior and in her second year of newspaper. She chose to take this class because she wants to minor in journalism in the future and it's overall an awesome class to take in order to learn about life skills. Emilia is a reporter and social media manger. In her free time she enjoys playing tennis and hanging out with family and friends. 
Alexa Bageris
Alexa Bageris, Social Media Specialist
Alexa Bageris is a Junior in her first year of newspaper. She decided to take newspaper because she wanted to try something new. Alexa is a reporter for the newspaper team, writing lots of exciting stories. Outside of school, she loves playing tennis, hanging out with her friends and family, reading, watching movies, and being outside.

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