A UK resident has been left ‘stranded’ in Pakistan because the Home Office has refused her newly adopted baby from entering the country.
Nina Saleh, 44, who is a Norwegian national but has lived in the UK for 20 years, has spent four months in the country with Sofia, now aged seven months. She is renting a small room in Karachi at ‘great expenses’ where she is often left without air conditioning for hours in Pakistan’s 40C heat.
She told the Guardian: ‘My home is in London. I have no family, friends of network here. My body is covered in eczema, I have lost so much hair that I have bald patches in places, I am suffering from insomnia and I have lost my appetite.’
The compliance consultant obtained guardianship for Sofia through the Pakistani authorities in February and immediately applied for a visa for her daughter to return to London and finalise the adoption process.
However, Nina was refused in a letter from the Home Office, which said: ‘Adoptions that have taken place in Pakistan cannot be legally recognised in the UK,’ despite the fact she has not yet formally adopted Sofia.
She said she feels they are being ‘held hostage’ because she’s scared to be targeted as a single mum. Direct adoption from Pakistan to Britain is not allowed, but parents can get legal guardianship and formalise the adoption in the UK.
She went through a ‘very stringent, lengthy’ process in the UK and was visited by social services for two hours a week for a year. She added: ‘I believe I am being treated like a second-class citizen because I have Norwegian citizenship.
The two other couples I travelled with, one British and one mixed British-European national, have both returned easily to the UK with their babies.’ Nina paid £14,000 to the Intercountry Adoption Centre in the UK, which helped her match with Sofia. Read more