EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – COVID-19 travel restrictions have kept many families apart, including a local couple who has not seen their 5-year-old little girl in 10 months.
What started out as a vacation to see relatives has now turned into nearly a year of them trying to help her get home.
For nearly a year, video chat is the only communication John and Vanesa Galvan have had with their 5-year-old daughter Samantha with her birthday – and milestones – all missed.
“Her little tooth is almost falling so she was all excited and telling us,” said Vanesa.
On New Year’s Eve, John flew with Samantha to Colombia, leaving her to stay with her grandparents for a bit and learn about her culture.
The Galvans were supposed to go see her in April.
“That got pushed back because of COVID,” John said.
After that, more and more plans to bring her back got canceled due to travel restrictions in Colombia.
“It’s been a nightmare,” said John.
She is learning a lot in Colombia.
“She barely speaks English anymore!” said John.
But her parents are left with an empty space.
“She would not sleep in her bed and she would come and knock on our door and lay a blanket down next to our bed – and she’d just want to sleep near us,” said John. “That’s been heartbreaking for me not having her there.”
The Galvans have tried everything to bring their daughter home, but were told her only option was to take a humanitarian flight back to the U.S. alone – something neither are comfortable with.
“If you were an athlete or something like that and you needed to go somewhere, the government would bend over backwards,” said John. “I feel like a 5-year-old little U.S. Citizen was forgotten about.”
Thankfully for John and Vanessa, travel restrictions are starting to be lifted.
John will travel to Colombia this weekend to pick up Samantha.
“We just want to get her back in our arms,” said John.
The Galvan family built Samantha an amazing new playhouse as a welcome home gift. The neighborhood is hosting a drive-by parade to welcome Samantha back this weekend.
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