WATCH: A heartbroken family calls on new B.C. NDP government for help in Métis toddler case after the Ministry of Children and Families refuses to recognize Aboriginal adoption. Tess van Straaten has the CHEK News exclusive.
A former Vancouver Island couple has spent the last year fighting to get their daughter back.
"It's the first thing on your mind, the last thing on your mind and pretty much every minute in between you're wondering, how is she doing?" says the dad, who can't be identified due to a publication ban. "Does she feel abandoned? Is she okay?"
The Métis toddler, who they raised since birth as foster parents before adopting through an Aboriginal Custom Adoption, was taken away from the Métis family last September and sent to a non-Aboriginal foster home in Ontario who were raising her siblings — siblings she'd never met.
"There aren't words for that," says the mom, who is Métis. "I think any parent would understand how incredibly hard it would be to have their child just taken and for no reason."
They say the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) is ignoring their Indigenous rights and fighting to overturn the adoption, which was recognized by the Northwest Territories Supreme Court where they now live.
The BC Government even issued the couple a birth certificate for the little girl in January, listing them as her parents but they say MCFD won't budge.
"Our daughter is in foster care in another province and we have adopted her," the mom says. "Why are they not letting her come back? Why are they continuing to litigate against us?"
The ongoing court battle has come at a high cost — both emotional and financial.
"We so far have spent about $750,000 and we had to sell our house," says the dad. "Some people questioned that but I think if your child was at risk, you would do anything — absolutely anything."
They're now hoping the new BC NDP government and Children and Family Development Minister Katrine Conroy will intervene.
"We're hoping and praying this new government will make this right and just return our daughter," says the mother, starting to cry. "We would be on the next plane. We would be on the next plane if we could just go get her. We love her so much."