"Papa, don't go!" she screamed in Cantonese after Scruggs kissed her and tried to hand her over to the foster family that would care for her until he could return.
Finally, the foster mother took the girl and Scruggs slipped out the door, the first step on a trip he wasn't ready to make, a day after his wife, Candace Litchford, had made the same wrenching journey back home to Alexandria.
So, instead of starting life with her new family in the United States, Harper remains in China, the visa she needs to enter the country blocked because of federal regulations aimed at limiting the number of immigrants entering the country with tuberculosis. If her parents had known she was sick, they would have waited for her to finish treatment before they visited, they said.
"You know, she loved us, she bonded with us and she attached to us, and we had to leave," Litchford said. "How's she supposed to trust us? We did everything to explain why, but how do you explain government to a child? You can't."
In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control issued new tuberculosis testing and treatment rules for immigrants older than 2. The policy applies to all immigrants, including foreign children adopted by U.S. citizens, and has outraged several adoption organizations.Advocates said the rules will be particularly problematic for adoptions from Ethiopia, where the guidelines went into effect April 1, and in China, where they took effect July 1.
Both the Wall Street Journal and the Boston Globe have run recent articles on the way the new TB rules affect adoptions, with the Scruggs family getting a mention in the Boston Globe. There's also an interview with the mom in the Examiner.com.
I don't know enough on the medical end to know whether the general rule for immigrants & TB testing should apply to children, but it sure seems that with 2 years of notice, adoption agencies should do a better job of finding out children's health status before families travel.
Zoe tested positive for TB after we got home, though her chest X-ray was clear and so it was only dormant and not active. Still, we had to go through 9 months of treatment, oh joy! Even if the rule had been in force then, it wouldn't have affected her since she was under 2. But I can still only imagine the damage it would have done to to her to be given a "forever family" and have them walk away. I can't help but think there's a better way; it'll have to come from the agencies, though, since there are some good reasons for the health rules for immigration.
Update: Here's the link to the New York Times article.