A Canadian man who was shocked to learn that the twin girls who were born to him abroad did not automatically qualify as citizens were finally able to take the newborns home after being held in Kenya for more than a month.
Joseph Tito returned to Toronto on Wednesday after a one-week ordeal and a 36-hour flight that left him "exhausted," but relieved to finally be home.
Tito says he's ready to take on the challenge of fatherhood.
"Being a first-time dad is overwhelming for everyone, but being away from the comfort of your home taking care of two newborns has been difficult," Tito wrote in a post on the Instagram earlier this week announcing she received visas to bring the girls Stella and Mia, at home.
"What a journey that was, but in the end, as I said a million times, I would go to hell and go back to these two beautiful beings."
I did not think it was real-
Tito chronicled his subrogation process on a blog after realizing that there were few online resources on this for men or same-sex couples.
He says he took every precaution to make sure the process was completely over the threshold and chose Kenya in part because the cost of finding a surrogate to support his children was less prohibitive in the East African country.
Their children do not qualify as citizens because of an amendment to Canada's Citizenship Act in 2015 that limited automatic citizenship for babies born to Canadians outside Canada to a generation. For Tito, who was born in Italy and automatically received Canadian citizenship, this meant that he could not transfer citizenship to children born abroad.
"Even before starting this journey, I investigated the situation. I contacted the embassy, contacted the clinic, contacted lawyers," he told reporters when he arrived in Toronto on Wednesday.
That's why when he learned that his children were not automatically Canadian citizens, he was "shocked," he said.
"It looked like a movie," said Tito. "I did not think it was real, especially for a country like Canada."
It is a change that immigration lawyer Joel Sandaluk has long considered "troublesome."
"What it essentially does is create two separate classes of Canadian citizenship – one that is inherently more valuable than the other," said Sandaluk.
"Certain Canadian citizens are able to pass on their citizenship to their children, even though they are born outside Canada while other Canadian citizens are not," he added, noting that the legislation applies only to people born after February 14, 1977.
"It's also incredibly arbitrary. I know a lot of people [who] have more than one child, one of whom may have been born outside of Canada and it is maddening for parents to realize that even within their own family there are different classes of citizenship. "
For his part, Tito says he understands why the law was put into practice, but would like to see the change.
Sandaluk echoes that feeling.
"I believe the government's intention at the time was to ensure that people could not be constantly having more Canadian citizens and that the number of Canadian citizens and citizens could not be constantly expanding outside Canada to a group of people who had no connection with Canada, "he said.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did not respond to CBC Toronto's request for comment.
The exact status of girls in Canada is not known, but they are not yet permanent residents, says Tito. Tito says he has sent sponsorship documents to the girls and plans to take the necessary steps to guarantee their citizenship once he has settled down.
For now, however, he says he is looking forward to spending quality time with new and small additions to his family.
Your first order of business: "Feed them, dip them in fresh water and put them in their nursery."