I am stuck and I need some help, some ideas and some more miracles.
My family and I have had a summer holiday in France booked for over a year. I am speaking at a conference and then staying on for a week’s break in La Vendee. We have had a young foster child placed with us and getting him a UK passport (even though he was born in this country) has proved very difficult because of his family background. By the grace of God and lots of prayer, form filling, queuing and pleading I have managed to get him a Nigerian passport in record time – an incredible 24 hour turn around. I was hugely impressed by the graciousness and kindness of the staff at the Nigerian High Commission in London.
The next step was to try and get him a French visa as Nigerian nationals need one to enter France. After much queuing, pleading, hanging around taking pictures, tweeting and phoning I did manage to get a fast track appointment at the French Consulate in London. I brought every form – photocopied numerous times and presented it to the very efficient official in the basement Visa office. Everything was OK except for the fact that my foster son’s passport did not have a home office “residency” stamp.
So here is the roadblock. Research tells me that to get such a stamp takes a long time. It is possible to enter a fast track system – which astoundingly costs £6000 (this seems completely unjust and a definite bias to rich people ) and even then it takes 6 weeks. My local MP Jon Howell’s office is trying to help but has not got anywhere yet. Angie Paterson Jon Howell’s caseworker in particular has been very helpful and a pleasure to deal with. But sadly we have not been able to get anywhere.
I have written personally to the Minister for Children and Families Tim Loughton – but have not had a response. So in the mean time our foster son who has already had 8 different families in his short life and who has seen tremendous progress in his emotional stability and ability to make meaningful attachments is set to be left behind in respite care. I can’t believe this is the end of the story. Kids in care have already had a tough time – and now one can’t have a summer holiday with the family that love him and want to take care of him. I am running low on energy and ideas at the moment and after having had the help of so many helpful and gracious officials at the Nigerian and French embassies and some fantastic support from our local social services its really frustrating that its my own country’s immigration systems that are letting down my foster son.
I have run out of ideas. Can any of you guys help?
Do you have any other ideas for routes I can take?
There’s a passage in the Bible that has been gripping my mind recently – the whole passage is a powerful challenge to much that passes for Christianity these days.. but here’s the verse that has been powering me the last few weeks:
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.
thanks friends for all your advice, retweets and Facebook messages.
Tim Loughton the Minister for Childrens and Families wrote a very kind email (on Sunday evening) wishing me good luck but telling me there is nothing he can do.
Jon Howell my local MP has also been in touch (his caseworker Angie has been doing her best to help) and it seems a lot rests on his ability to take up our case with the immigration service – so please pray for success there.
I had a couple of conversations with Sky News on this case too and may pursue a media angle on this if we don’t seem to be getting anywhere.
So thanks for getting involved, I think your prayers and social media help has made an impact!