Today began with a visit to the consulate. We had to fight quite a battle to get in to see them, because at first they did not want out guide there. We were able to get him in, because if we must leave Harper here, he will be our representative. However, they then informed us that Harper could not come, as they did not want an infectious child in the building. This set Candace off, and she set them straight, eventually managing to get the physician to call the consulate to explain to them that Harper was not contagious, and so we were all finally able to speak.
The meeting went well enough, and it seems once we are able to clear the CDC hurdle everything will go fine. However, it is ever so doubtful we will bea able to clear that hurdle. A summary of our case to date is below.
This morning, Tuesday morning Eastern time, is an absolutely critical time, as the decision as to whether our daughter Harper will be able to come home with us will be placed in the hands of the CDC.
Our story: we were sent to China to adopt a 4-year old little girl. We met Guang Yue Ye (Harper) on July 27, 2009. We officially adopted her on the morning of July 28, 2009 but upon completion of the adoption were informed that on June 5, 2009 our daughter had been diagnosed at a local hospital with an active case of TB. She received drug therapy in the hospital for approximately a month and was released on a DOT program on which she takes a combination of Rifampin, Isoniazid, and Pyrazinamide. She has been taking these drugs for the past month to combat the TB. On July 28, 2009 we took her to the approved medical facility here in Guangzhou where she tested positive for TB in her skin PPD test (previously we had been told that she tested negative 3 times). Furthermore, she had a positive chest x-ray, which by the new rules adopted by the CDC would mean that she needs to undergo several additional tests, including the sputum culture test (3, consecutively), which would take a minimum of 42 days to get results from. If the results of the sputum culture are positive, Harper would need to retake them again after 2 months, and again and again until they are negative. We cannot afford to stay in China as we are a 2-income family with another 6-year old child at home, and so we will be forced to abandon our daughter in China until those tests are negative.
We learned yesterday that a sputum culture test had been performed 8 weeks ago, when our daughter Harper (Guan Yue Ye) was hospitalized. This culture was negative. She also had 3 smear tests, which were also negative. In addition, we have chest x-rays 2 months apart indicating that the medications are working, and that lungs are clearing. However the CDC will not accept the sputum culture processed in the hospital because it was not done by a CDC approved lab. They are requiring that we wait for the results of the new sputum cultures (completed on August 3, 2009). These results take 42 days or longer to process. The panel physicians will not send her medical report to the consulate so she can obtain an immigrant visa until the cultures have been read and determined to be negative and CDC signs off. The original sputum test was perfomed by the Guangzhou Pulmonary Hospital. Please note that to the best of our knowledge the technical instructions themselves do not state that the lab tests must be performed in a CDC approved lab. Dr. Huang, the panel physician, has stated to us that the Pulmonary Hospital where the culture was performed is a very sophisticated lab, and that the panel physicians themselves send cultures there from time to time if a result is equivocal and needs more in-depth testing.
The panel physicians (the medical facility doctors) seem to agree that Harper is NOT CONTAGIOUS, and that she would be otherwise allowed to travel home, except for this rule by the CDC. The authority at the CDC himself even said in a phone conversation with us on Monday August 3rd that if the cultures were performed by a CDC approved lab, then she would be okay to come home. The Technical Instructions for Tuberculosis Screening and Treatment (written by this authority himself) indicate that positive chest x-ray or medical history, negative HIV test, negative sputum smear, and a negative sputum culture should ultimately result in being allowed to travel.
This new rule by the CDC went into effect for China on July 1, so if our adoption had been completed three weeks earlier, she would have been allowed to come home with no problems. Similarly, if she was our natural born child, she would be allowed to come home with no problems, as we would not be subject to immigration laws. There are open visitation policies with many countries of this world which allow tourism without a visa for up to 90 days, without subjecting the traveler to any type of medical test. In our view, the new CDC requirements quite simply discriminates against adopted children, penalizing them by holding them to a standard not held for natural borns or tourists, and will result in a situation similar to ours over and over again in the future. In fact, the FACE act has been introduced in congress to put a halt to this type of situation.
The CDC is responsible for determining whether or not she should be allowed to come home. The panel physicians have said they would be writing a letter to the CDC indicating that they would like him to allow them the latitude to determine her ability to travel. However, it appears as of this time not to have been sent. We expect the CDC will be responding to this letter with a decision rather quickly, and so this is why it is critical to do whatever can be done to influence them now.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update. We hope we can ultimately convince the CDC that sacrificing this little girl at the altar of a technicality is a grave injustice. No one thinks she is contagious, but no one has the courage to do what is right.
James Scruggs and Candace Litchford
Harper's Come Home!
- Tuesday August 4