"I've gone to the moon and back for these kids, I'll do anything for them."
On November 30th, Canadian citizen, Joseph Tito, became a dad to twin girls via surrogate in Kenya. It had been a long journey for the family including a relationship breakup as Joseph was contemplating fatherhood, and after he found a somewhat affordable surrogacy agency in India who had opened a clinic in Kenya, he went through four unsuccessful embryo transfers.
But on April 19, 2018, four words via an email notification changed his life: "Test results. Positive. Congrats."
On November 14, Joseph and his mother traveled from Canada to Mombasa, Kenya, where his surrogate gave birth to his twin daughters, Mia and Stella, two weeks later.
The day after his twins were born, new dad Joseph shared his feelings via his Instagram page: "I thought I loved before but nothing compares to this feeling ... It hasn't sunk in yet that I'm a dad."
Sadly that period of unbridled joy was short-lived as the problems began almost immediately.
Mia had a brief bout of illness although thankfully made a full recovery, but then the legal issues began to arise for the new family.
"Everything has been difficult from getting birth certificates to court orders," shared Joseph who is yet to have his name on their twins' birth certificates.
But the real issue came when the Canadian High Commission in Nairobi, a 50 minute flight from Mombasa (where Joseph, his mother and his twins were staying), denied issuing his daughters passports. Joseph was shocked!
Joseph was born in Italy to a Canadian mom and then moved to Toronto when he was 6 years old, making him second generation Canadian. Previously, the Immigration Act in Canada allowed for second generation Canadians' children to automatically receive citizenship. But in 2015, the law was amended. Under the new law, second generation Canadian's children do not have automatic citizenship, meaning his children have no status in Canada and have to be sponsored.
To further complicate matters, as neither the biological parents of Joseph's twins - he and the egg donor - are Kenyan citizens, he cannot apply for a Kenyan passport on behalf of his daughters. This means the girls are currently stateless.
When Gays With Kids asked Joseph if he had any indication that he would encounter this issue when bringing the girls home, he said it was a "complete surprise!" Although he had known about the amendment to the law, he says he did his due diligence to ensure it wouldn't be an issue.
"Before I started this journey I contacted the embassy here in Nairobi, sent them my passport and citizenship and they told me everything was okay. Three weeks ago I went again to embassy paying 500 US for their citizenship, passports and urgent passport, I had to book a flight back and everything was okay. Then on Friday morning we fly to Nairobi from Mombasa go to the embassy to get our passports and 3 hours of waiting with crying babies they told me "No, I couldn't get passports and would have to sponsor my kids.'"
Joseph's next steps are to sponsor his daughters - a process that he has already begun the paperwork for - but has been told that it could take from 6-12 months. "I've also applied for a Temporary Resident Visa; if approved by the embassy, they'll issue me a temporary travel document so I can at least go home [to Canada] and wait for sponsorship to come through," explained Joseph. "I'm keeping my fingers crossed as I'm running out of supplies - formula, etc. - for the babies."
Joseph is working with a lawyer back in Canada, and has many loved ones back at home rooting for him and supporting him from afar. Joseph is also forever grateful to his mother who has been by his side during this entire ordeal. "I don't know what I would do without her."
Through this nightmare, Joseph is trying to stay focused on the reason he's in this legal quagmire: to become a dad. "These two little people are everything to me and I would go through it all 1000 times over just to look into their eyes."
We will be following Joseph's journey closely and wish him and his precious family a speedy trip home to Canada.
**UPDATE: Joseph's twin daughters were granted temporary visas and the entire family are now back in Canada. Everyone is thrilled and relieved to be back home in Toronto and Joseph has begun the process for his twins to become residents of Canada.**
To follow Joseph, visit his Instagram page, and below are some additional news articles that further explain his story and current situation: