Toronto dad returns home with two baby girls after citizenship setback
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Wednesday, January 9, 2019 4:41PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 9, 2019 8:09PM EST
A man and his two baby girls born in Kenya via surrogate have returned to Toronto following a 36 hour flight and significant delays caused by a sometimes-overlooked citizenship rule.
“I’m excited. I’m happy. I’m overwhelmed,” Joseph Tito said while standing in Pearson International Airport Wednesday afternoon. “I still can’t believe I am here.”
Tito travelled to Mombasa with his mother in December to meet his newborn twin daughters, named Mia and Stella, who were born on Nov. 30.
When he tried to make arrangements to bring his babies back home, he learned that they weren’t immediately eligible to become Canadian citizens.
A law passed in 2009 prevents Canadians born in other countries, who inherited their citizenship, from passing it on to children who were also born in another country.
Tito is a second-generation Canadian who was born in Italy.
Tito told CTV News Toronto that he was shocked to learn of the citizenship challenges because he had looked into the rules before undertaking the surrogacy.
“It felt like a movie. I didn’t think it was real,” he said. “I did, before I even started this journey, I looked into it. I contacted the embassy, I contacted my clinic, I contacted lawyers. I did all my research and I paid for everything three weeks before that and then all of a sudden it was like, you can’t go.”
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said in a statement that they “understand immigration decisions can have a serious impact on the lives of individuals.”
“We work with all clients on a case by case basis to ensure that each case is treated fairly and in accordance to Canada's laws,” the ministry said.
Tito has applied to sponsor his twins, but Toronto immigration lawyer Steven Tress said there is reasonable chance that the situation can be resolved quickly with a temporary resident permit.
"Immigration would be sympathetic on one of those two humanitarian applications, to try to resolve his personal situation,” he said. “They're not opening up the flood gates because it's just so unusual."
On Monday, Tito posted to Instagram saying that he had received temporary visas for his daughters, so he can bring them home.
“After two months of being away from home, the thought of it brings tears to my eyes. Being a first-time parent is overwhelming for everybody, but being away from the comfort of your home caring for 2 newborns has been tough,” he said on Instagram. “What a ride this has been, but at the end, like I said a million times, I would go through hell and back for these two precious beings.”
Tito told CTV News hours before he got on a plane that that he is “so grateful” to go home, even though it means a 24 hour flight with two babies.
“At least I am able to go back and wait for all the paperwork, the sponsorship to go through, and then I can apply for their citizenship.”
Now that he is home, Tito said that the first thing he is going to do is feed and bathe his daughters and put them in their nursery.
“I am just going to raise my babies. I want to just spend time with my babies and not worry about legal stuff and not be worrying about going to embassies and lawyers and courts. I just want to be home.”
He took a moment to thank everyone for their support during the last two months.
“My Instagram and my Facebook and my blog, everything, I have received amazing comments and support and it actually really, really helped me during the darkest of times.”
Tito said that even though the last two months have been complicated, he has no regrets.
"If I had to do it all over again I would a thousand times over because they are truly a blessing and I've waited for this and wanted this for so long."
Tito said he plans on throwing a big party once his children receive their official Canadian citizenship.