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Adopted Kenyan child denied Visa into U.S.

Published: Aug. 17, 2011 at 8:38 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2011 at 9:25 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - An American dentist from Wilmington wants to bring his family back to the United States from Kenya.  The problem is his youngest child can't get a Visa for two years.

Dr. Warren Rich and his wife, Miriam, adopted a baby in Kenya.  The child was abandoned at birth at a hospital where Dr. Rich ran a dental clinic.  Two weeks after her birth, the Rich's took the child into their home where she has been ever since.

In April of this year, little Hope, who is now almost three,  was legally adopted by the Rich's.  She legally became the family's sixth child.  Four of the Rich's children are in college here in the States.  One remains with Dr. Rich and his wife back in Kenya.

The family was preparing to move to the United States this month when they learned of the roadblock.

"We asked for an expedited Visa. Within 48 hours they let us know the Visa was denied," explained Rich.

U.S. Embassy rules say that legal custody in another country begins at adoption.  There is a two-year waiting period before a Visa can be issued.  If they were to bring her into the States, she would be considered an illegal alien.

The Rich's were granted a passport by Kenyan authorities, but until she's granted a Visa, they will have to remain in Africa.

What makes this even more complicated---Dr. Rich was so certain he was moving his family back to the State's he turned the dental clinic over to Kenyans, sold his car and moved his family to a temporary apartment.  They were to leave Kenya when their son, Steven, left last weekend to attend N.C. State.

For now,  Dr. Rich, his wife, and their two daughters will remain in Kenya.

"We cannot return as a family until she can come with us," said Rich.

Copyright 2011 WECT.  All rights reserved.