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Couple leaves baby in Vietnam


News-Times, The (Danbury, CT)

Author: Joe Gould


NEW MILFORD - Last weekend a New Milford couple vowed not to leave Vietnam without their adopted baby, but this week they made the difficult decision to leave after all.

John and Eileen Merrill left their infant daughter in foster care in Ho Chi Minh City and returned home late Friday morning. They believe the arrangement is temporary.

"They're completely broken up that they had to leave the baby," said John Merrill's father, Dustin. "They cried all the way back."

The Merrills were unavailable for comment Friday. Merrill said his son and daughter-in-law were spent from their ordeal and the long flight from Vietnam.

With help from an international attorney in Vietnam, they are appealing the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service's ruling that bars the baby from entering the United States. A Massachusetts attorney is helping them seek a waiver called humanitarian parole for the child.

"John and Eileen plan to pursue this and have a strategy talk this weekend," Dustin Merrill said. They will meet with both sets of in-laws.

The Merrills left Vietnam to return to their jobs so they can pay for the legal and diplomatic fight to bring the child to the United States.

"If you're not making any money, you don't have any money to fight," Merrill said.

Last fall, the Merrills arranged to adopt their baby through

A Child Among Us

, a now defunct South Glastonbury adoption agency. They received Vietnamese approval for the adoption in February.

In March,. the Merrills were set to bring the girl home when U.S. immigration officials informed them there were allegations that the Vietnamese adoption facilitator bought the baby for them, which disqualifies the Merrills from adopting her under U.S. immigration law.

"The big thing is that every one told them they did nothing wrong. They did everything by the book" said Dustin Merrill.

After the baby was denied immigration papers, her adoptive parents contemplated plans for one parent to remain in Vietnam until the case was settled, but ultimately they decided against it.

The Merrills ask that letters of support be sent to Kevin D. Rooney, Acting Commissioner, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 425 I Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20536.

Contact Joe Gould at jgould@newstimes.com or at (860) 354-2275.

2001 Apr 14