A Queensland couple are appealing to keep their toddler “son” in Australia after the Immigration Department knocked back his visa application.
According to the director of their childcare centre north of Brisbane, Craig and Karen Wells adopted the two-year-old boy known as “Cal” in Papua New Guinea and brought him back to Australia.
Craig and Karen Wells want to keep “Cal” in Australia. Photo: Supplied
Since then Community Kids Deception Bay Child Care centre director Katie Voigt said he’d become a “much-loved” member of the community at the facility, north of Brisbane.
“This process has put a strain on the family physically, emotionally and financially,” she wrote in a change.org petition that had gathered more than 1500 signatures by Tuesday morning.
“Despite their efforts the government have denied his right to a more permanent visa and the family are facing the little boy’s deportation back to PNG if they don’t get the immigration department to appeal the decision.
“If he is deported to PNG he will not have family to support him, his original family were trading him to another village when the couple intervened and offered to adopt him.”
News Corp reported the boy, whose real name was Mackalistair, travelled to Brisbane early last year with his father Mackalistair So-On, who decided to leave him behind with the couple.
Mrs Wells told the publication she had worked with the boy’s father at the Manus Island immigration centre and he and Cal’s mother had given consent for the boy to live with her and her husband.
“The father told me he can’t have three boys. He was to be given away to another village,” the 46-year-old said.
According to Ms Voigt, the couple had been forced to fly back and forth to PNG every three months to renew the toddler’s temporary visa and finalise his adoption.
Mrs Wells told News Corp she had not been able to contact Cal’s father since Christmas and the boy was stuck on a bridging visa after his visitor’s visa expired.
An application to place Cal on an orphan visa was rejected last month and under review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the report noted.
“He’s our son now … there is nowhere else for him to go,” she said.
Ms Voigt said funds raised would go to support Craig and Karen’s legal fees and other expenses.
“The sad reality is (Cal) is (a) very much loved and wanted child in his Australian family and our wider community within the Moreton Bay shire,” she wrote.
“He is a beautiful, funny, cheeky little boy who just wants to be loved and cared for and we are fighting the decision to deport him.”
The Immigration Department has been contacted for comment.
Source: Brisbane Times