The parents of a 5-year-old girl are excitedly waiting to reunite with their daughter after 10 months apart, most of which was because of the coronavirus pandemic.
John and Vanesa Galvan said it's been close to a year since they last saw their daughter Samantha in person, but are now just days away from hugging their little girl again, NBC affiliate KFOR reported.
"It’s been a nightmare," John told the outlet. "If you were an athlete or something like that and you needed to go somewhere, the government would bend over backward. I feel like a 5-year-old little U.S. Citizen was forgotten about."
On New Year's Eve, the Galvans dropped Samantha off at her grandparents' house in Colombia, where they hoped she would be able to learn more about her family's culture before bringing her home for good in the summer, according to KFOR.
Little did they know, COVID-19 would sweep across the globe just three months later, prompting many countries to enforce travel restrictions and close their borders.
At first, the Oklahoma couple assumed Colombia's restrictions would only be in effect for a few months after John said their scheduled visit in April "got pushed back because of COVID."
But when their attempts after that point continued to get shut down, the Galvans were left scrambling as they desperately searched for ways to get their daughter home.
"There were no dates," the dad recalled to NBC affiliate KXAS-TV. "That’s when we kind of started panicking thinking this is going longer and longer."
"She barely speaks English anymore!" John added to KFOR.
Eventually, the couple learned that their only option to get Samantha back to the U.S. was on a humanitarian flight. However, officials said the 5 year old would have to travel alone — and her parents were far from thrilled about the idea.
"For both of us, that was just… you know, she can barely open a bathroom door, airplane door to go to the bathroom by herself, let alone fly by herself, sitting next to strangers, going through customs with someone who might be paying attention to her or might not," John explained to KXAS.
Fearful for what Samantha could face on her trip alone, the Galvans decided to wait until they could travel to her themselves. In the meantime, they said they've missed out on major milestones with their daughter.
"We've missed Fourth of July together, her birthday, Father’s Day, just everything, and that's tough," John told KXAS.
"Her little tooth is almost falling so she was all excited and telling us," Vanesa told KFOR.
John pointed out that he's also missed the everyday yet precious moments he shared with Samantha.
"Before she left, 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," John told KFOR. "That's been heartbreaking for me not having her there."
But all that heartbreak will hopefully be behind them this weekend when John finally travels to Colombia to pick up Samantha after 10 long months.
The excited father told KFOR that Samantha will not only receive a ton of affection from her parents, but also special homecoming gifts, including a new playhouse and a drive-by parade featuring their neighbors.
"We just want to get her back in our arms," John told the outlet.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.
Source: Read Full Article