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Coronavirus keeping Tampa Bay parents away from adopted daughter in China

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PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Coronavirus restrictions are keeping a Tampa Bay family from their 4-year-old adopted daughter in China.

Eng-Suan, 51, and Cory Jarriel, 48, are a married couple who live in Pasco County. For 2 years they’ve struggled with the process of adopting a Chinese daughter.

In November 2019 they were finally matched with their little girl, 4-year-old Jasmine. By February their paperwork was done.

The only thing left was traveling from Tampa, Florida to Bejing, China but then the global COVID pandemic began, and international travel stopped. Now they can’t get to her.

“It’s hard to explain. I feel sadness and frustration,” Cory said.

“I think he handles it better than me. I’m just, angry,” Eng-Suan said. “I lose my faith. It’s like now I have this child but now you won’t give it to me. Now, what’s going on? You know?” she said.

“For me, I feel like, I’m not a birth mother. The child is not growing inside me for 9 months and I know a due date. But this child has grown in my heart, but I don’t know the due date,” Eng-Suan said as she started to cry. “You know…it’s really hard,” she continued.

The couple shared with us the beginning of Jasmine’s life. “She was born with a cleft lip, her mother gave her up, set her outside a police station on the first day [of her life],” Cory said. “Yeah, with the placenta still attached,” Eng-Suan continued.

“I just want her to know that there are so many people who love her,” Eng said about Jasmine. “We have so many friends that want to meet her!” Cory said.

We spoke with the National Council for Adoption‘s Vice President of Education, Research, and Constituent Services, Ryan Hanlon, who said the Jarriel family isn’t alone in their adoption troubles because of the pandemic.

“We know of a few hundred families waiting to travel to China and dozens more for other countries,” Hanlon said.

The Jarriel family is among many who wrote to Congress to help ease restrictions for families traveling to adopt.

Hanlon is optimistic families will be able to unite with their children by the end of 2020.

“It will look very different. It might be a longer trip with quarantines in place, it might have more testing involved, it might be just one and not both parents traveling but I am optimistic that we’ll find a way to get these children united with families,” Hanlon said.

The Jarriel family say they will do whatever it takes to bring their baby girl back to the bay area.

8 On Your Side will follow the family’s journey to China.

The Jarriel’s hope to introduce Jasmine to the Tampa Bay Area by November.

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