In the summer of 2003, after spending 2 months in Mexico finalizing their adoption, the DeVoogds were happy to finally head home to Michigan. In normal circumstances, adopted children from foreign countries are automatic US citizens. Thom and Janet had no reason to believe anything different for their 2 daughters.
After the adoption was finalized, the family got into a Mexican taxi, arrived at the US border, were inspected and were waved through by border patrol agents. Later, upon applying for citizenship for the girls, they were told that the border patrol should not have waved the family through. (the "wave through" had been a very common practice in 2003.) That "wave through" has created a multitude of citizenship problems.
Since 2003, Anika and Gabi's American parents have continually spent all their savings attempting to achieve citizenship for the girls. Over the years, they have sought the counsel and support of 4 lawyers, 2 senators, immigration experts and United States representatives. Despite all the support, legal fees and immigration fees, Anika and Gabi's green card applications were denied in the spring of 2018.
According to immigration law, when the girls turn 18, they will "AGE OUT" and have to leave the United States or face deportation in the only country and home they have ever known! Gabi is now 17+4 months and Anika is 16 1/2.
BUT THERE IS STILL HOPE!!
The DeVoogds recently hired a legal team out of Atlanta, Georgia to help them navigate the United States Immigration System with hopes of U.S. Visas for the girls by the Fall of 2020.
Unfortunately it now looks like the DeVoogds will need to live as a separated family. Janet will have to quit her job and the she and the girls will "wait in it out" in Mexico while Thom continues to work at Casper College to support the family . Since the girls were orphans, there is no family in Mexico.
This GOFUNDME is to help the DeVoogd girls pay for immigration processing fees, lawyer fees, relocation costs of Janet and the girls to Mexico and travel costs for a required 3 week stay in Juarez, Mexico for final visa interviews.
The DeVoogd family is also asking for donations of either Delta or United Airline miles or donated airline tickets so that Thom may be able to visit the girls and Janet in Mexico as often as his job allows.
The DeVoogd Story:
27 years ago, Thom and Janet met in the United States Peace Corps where they fell in love and were soon married. They worked in a tiny, remote jungle village in Belize, Central America. This is where they spent 2 years volunteering and serving the poor communities by helping to train teachers, teach basic health and hygiene classes, build a school, teacher house, latrines, water tanks and teach English.
Wanting to start a family, they tried for 5 years to with no success. During this period of time, Janet experienced over 10 miscarriages and the couple was deemed infertile. Little did they know that 2 little girls without parents would be waiting for them in Mexico.
Anika was born on the dusty streets of Chihuahua, Mexico, 2 months premature. Her mother had to cut her umbilical cord with a rock and Anika was then transported to a hospital. Anika would spend 2 months in the hospital abandoned and then transferred to a local orphanage where she would spend the next 8 months alone in a crib.
After living on the streets of Chihuahua with her mother, Gabi was dropped off at a police station and then taken to the same orphanage where Anika was living. She was 7 months old and lived in the orphanage for 9 months.
Janet and Thom found out about the orphanage from good friends in El Paso, Texas and began the exciting journey of international adoption. In May of 2003, the girls were adopted by Janet and Thom and it was one of the happiest day of their lives!
A WONDERFUL FAMILY THEY BECAME!
Over the past 15 years, the girls have become amazing sisters with great love for each other. They have had the blessings of 2 parents, an extended family of over 30, an American education, are fluent in English and are productive/caring citizens.
Anika is an inquisitive, talented artist and musician.
Gabi is a talented athlete who loves tennis, skiing and is an active member of the student council and Key Club.
The girls will need their green cards to be able to return to the US and take advantage of the Wyoming Hathaway Scholarship that they earned with good grades. Both have dreams of attending Casper College and the University of Wyoming.
Please help the girls raise the funds needed to pay for this costly process of citizenship.
With your help Anika and Gabi will soon be able to realize the American dream.