A successful college basketball coach was forced to resign last week. Not due to scandal or poor performance, but because she has to return to Senegal with her daughter to finalize the adoption — and she doesn’t know when they’ll be able to return, according to The Washington Post.
What’s the story?
Joanne Boyle was the head coach of the University of Virginia women’s basketball team, which just made the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2010.
After Virginia’s second-round loss to South Carolina on Saturday, Boyle announced her resignation and told her team the surprising reason for her abrupt departure.
She and her 6-year-old daughter Ngoty could be in Senegal for months, even years, as the U.S. government finalizes the adoption amid stricter international adoption rules, skyrocketing fees and indefinite waiting periods.
Uprooting their lives
For Boyle and Ngoty, the move uproots a comfortable and successful life, sending them to a country where nearly one out of every three children dies of chronic malnutrition, and where they don’t have any family or friends.
Boyle resigned from a $700,000 per year job, and Ngoty was attending Charlottesville Day School, where she dances ballet and hip-hop and plays the violin.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” Boyle said. “I didn’t fathom that would be a part of this journey.
“She’s 6. Putting her on a plane by herself is not an option,” Boyle said. “Me stepping down from my job was the only option. It’s disruptive, but I’m going to do what I need to do.”
What’s the main issue?
Internationally adopted children usually remain in their home country until they are able to come to the U.S. on a travel document with a path to citizenship.
Boyle, desperate to get Ngoty out of Senegal where she was severely underweight and ill (her orphanage barely had running water, and only offered one meal of rice per day), brought Ngoty to the U.S. on a tourist visa, which has now expired.
Boyle kept Ngoty in the U.S. after the expiration date due to fears of sickness, but said she always planned to return for the final adoption checks.
“The kid’s sick,” Boyle said. “It’s not like you keep taking a sick kid back.”
Boyle hopes U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services can grant preliminary approval of her case, which would mean they could be back from Senegal in months instead of years, but so far officials have declined to do that.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) has been advocating on their behalf.
“This is her home now,” Kaine said. “The question is, how long will they have to be in Senegal until they can come back to their home?”