MADISON, S.D. (KELO) — A Madison family is patiently waiting for their three adopted children from Haiti to be in the United States and home with them, but the process of getting them here has not been an easy one.
For the Materese family, it’s four of them at home now — mom Casey, dad Jimmy and their two kids, Lyla and Maddox. However, there have always been plans to adopt more children, and so they started that process in 2015.
“Tons of paperwork, so that paperwork and gathering the paperwork took about a year. So 2016 is officially when we started the wait of Haiti, and we were told when we started our Haiti adoption that it would be a three to five-year process more than likely,” Casey said.
They were matched with three kids in May of 2021 — Guyto, Fleurina and Guerlineda, who are now 15, 13 and nine years old, respectively. They were officially adopted this past September, but they have not been able to meet their new family in person yet.
“It’s been a roller coaster. It’s been, it tugs on your heart strings. You know, I wouldn’t say it was easier before we knew who they were, but now that we have names and faces and we’ve zoomed with them multiple times, it’s hard,” Jimmy said.
The Matereses say there have been a number of hurdles while trying to get their adopted kids here including an earthquake, violence in Haiti, COVID and a fuel shortage, to name a few. Now the latest problem they’ve run into is getting passports.
“This last fall, the U.S. government did issue passport waivers, and because the families who were waiting were not able to get passports, which is currently where we are, so that’s kind of what we’re asking. We’re just asking them to think about passport waivers again,” Casey said.
They say once the kids have their passports, visas will be issued and they’ll come home, but it’s taking longer than expected.
“In the past, once you were matched, it was a good year. Now it’s almost two. We’re stuck. Until we can have passports, they can’t come home,” Casey said.
But when they do get here, they’ll have bedrooms ready for them right away.
“From where they are now to coming into a home with a loving family and bedrooms and just comfort is going to be different,” Jimmy said.
“I can’t wait. Our last meeting was three weeks ago. We saw them and that was first time we were all in tears about it, because they were suppose to have been home by Christmas,” Casey said.
Guyto, Fleurina and Guerlineda are ready for their new home, too. In a video, they all mention how much they miss their family, want to get their passports and be home in South Dakota.
“I’ve had many dreams of that first hug. They are our kids and they’re just not here yet,” Jimmy said.
The Materese family has also been in contact with lawmakers, including Sen. John Thune (R-SD), to help with getting their kids home.
We reached out to Thune’s office, and Thune left us with this statement:
“One of my core responsibilities as a U.S. senator is to help South Dakotans navigate the federal bureaucracy and, when necessary, foreign governments that create hurdles for families and businesses. It’s especially important when it’s an issue like this one where a loving family is willing to open their hearts and their home to adoptive children. With so much of the attention often paid to front-burner politics in Washington, important stories like the Materese’s can unfortunately go overlooked. But what might seem like a small issue to some can mean the world to others, and I’m glad that my staff and I can continue to help James, Casey, and their family fulfill this important dream.”
-Sen. John Thune (R-SD)