Marsha and Chuck Sailors have cards printed with the words “Let Claire Yen come home.”
One might think the couple is campaigning for the release of a political prisoner. In a way, they are.
Claire is a 3 1/2 -year-old Vietnamese girl the Sailors had every reason to think they were bringing home in 2008 to live with them and grow up in Kansas City.
Instead, the Sailors and the girl they consider their daughter are caught in a tangle involving international relations, the U.S. State Department and the Hague Convention on intercountry adoption.
It’s a maddening and heart-wrenching mess. And while bureaucrats in both Vietnam and the United States are doing their bureaucratic things, the Sailors say Claire is growing up undernourished in southern Vietnam in a moldy orphanage that used to be a prison. It even has bars on the windows.
“When you’re 3 years old, you should weigh more than 20 pounds,” Marsha Sailors said in her home adorned with photographs of Claire, who despite her small size has bright eyes and a wide smile. “We want to fatten her up.”
Compounding their frustration, the Sailors have been to Vietnam nine times and have spent a total of five months bonding with the girl. They are attached to her and she to them. Their pictures are on her wall and pillow.
Claire calls Chuck “Daddy” and Marsha the Vietnamese word for momma. The couple signs their greeting cards, “Chuck, Marsha and Claire.” The Sailors have hours of video of their girl, some of which can be seen on YouTube.
Cruelest of all, their last visit to see Claire, over Christmastime, was cut short. They were told by the Vietnamese government to leave early and that they could make no further visits nor send any more money or food to the orphanage or else they would jeopardize their chances of ever adopting Claire.
The Sailors are among 16 U.S. couples who find themselves in limbo. They were approved to adopt Vietnamese babies just before the arrangement between the two countries completely fell apart.
Read more of this story at KansasCity.com