KINGSVILLE, ONT. — At ages 70 and 81, Donna and Garth Earle could be forgiven for wanting to settle in at home.
Instead, they sold their home in St. Lunaire-Griquet where they had lived for 52 years and moved to Kingsville, Ontario to support their son Vaden’s fight to bring his adoptive daughter to Canada.
“We decided to sell our house so we could help with the expense,” Donna said. “It’s a big expense going back and forth taking care of Widlene and we wanted to help.”
The couple has only met their granddaughter once.
“We met Widlene nine years ago, myself and Garth went down to the Dominican Republic for over three weeks,” Donna said. “We wanted to go back again, but owing to health reasons, the doctors advised me not to go.”
The family has been fighting to bring Widlene to Canada all along (see sidebar) and Donna and Garth Earle wanted to do everything they could to help. Selling their home and moving to Ontario was a logical step.
“It was a hard decision to have to make to sell our home, but eventually we were going to have to go in a home or somewhere,” Earle said. “Now we’ll be right here for when Widlene comes. We talk to her every day. It’s really exciting to think about it.”
After deciding to put their home on the market, the house in St. Lunaire-Griquet sold in only four days. The Earle’s spent some time living with Garth’s nephew before leaving for Ontario in early February.
“It was hard to leave first,” Donna said. “But once we had moved out of our home, once we locked the door, we never looked back.”
She and Garth are enjoying their new home and new hometown.
“We love it here. It’s so beautiful,” Donna said. “We’ve got a garden in and we’ve already had turnip greens. It’s going good up here.”
She added, “There are a lot of Newfoundlanders here. There is someone here that we met in 1984 and we’ve been friends ever since.”
While they might miss the people they know back in Newfoundland, there is one aspect of life in their home province that the Earles can do without.
“I don’t miss the snow, I don’t miss the lot of snow we had back home,” Donna said. “It’s warm here. I call back home and it’s freezing cold. We haven’t had snow since we got here.”
While their daughter-in-law Nikki is in Kingsville with the Earle’s right now, Vaden Earle is in the Dominican Republic with Widlene. He alternates between the Dominican and Canada, two weeks at a time.
The family has filed yet another set of paperwork and, within 30 days, they are supposed to have answer from the Canadian government on Widlene’s status.
Donna worries about her son and her granddaughter, but she is hopeful for the future.
“It’s hard, it’s a hard struggle. There are nights I don’t even sleep, thinking about it,” she said. “But we’ll be here when Widlene comes. We talk to her every day and that’s really exciting.”
And she has a specific timeline in mind.
“Widlene is coming,” Earle said. “Her birthday is on the 25th of August, she’ll be 13. Hopefully she’ll be home by then.”
While it is unusual for people to make such a big change in their 70s and 80s, Donna says their move has a lot of benefits. It has already brought them closer as a family.
“For 25 years we haven’t been together. He’s (Vaden) been coming home every three or four years,” she said. “But now, even though we’ve got our own apartment downstairs, we have supper every evening at the table together. It’s wonderful.”
Donna says things are positive and that they all have a lot to look forward to.
“We’re doing wonderful, we love it here,” Earle says. “Widlene will be home here and there’s a baby on the way in December. It’s going to be an exciting Christmas here.”
The fight to bring Widlene home
Garth and Donna Earle’s granddaughter, Widlene Earle, was born in Haiti but lives in the Dominican Republic.
Vaden and his wife Nikki, started the process of adopting Widlene in 2009 after her mother had died the year before.
A combination of legislative changes, and the destruction brought about by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, wreaked havoc on their plans, and left Widlene stateless. They have been struggling to bring Widlene to Canada ever since. As long as she stays in the Dominican Republic she is at risk of being deported back to Haiti where she would face daily danger and extreme poverty.
To find out more about Widlene Earle and her family’s struggle to get her safely to Canada, visit http://www.bringwidlenehome.com