Baby and dad meet: Local family reunited after COVID separation
A local family has had an emotional reunion with a dad and baby son meeting for the first time after being separated by international borders.
Working as an Airport Concierge for Exemplar Port Douglas, Shannen Singh has greeted countless travellers and witnessed many emotional reunions, and finally last month it was her turn.
Shannen and husband Jasi Singh married in a traditional Hindu wedding in India in June 2019. Shannen lived here in Australia, while Jasi was still living in India.
Shortly after their wedding, Shannen returned to Australia for work with plans for Jasi to immigrate to Australia shortly afterwards. However, their plans were delayed by holds ups in Jasi’s immigration process.
Shannen travelled back to India multiple times to be with her husband while they were waiting to start their new lives together in Australia.
However, upon returning to Australia in March 2020 after visiting her husband, the world was forever changed when the pandemic hit, and international borders slammed shut just a week after her return.
“It was shortly after that I found out I was pregnant,” said Shannen
“While we were all very happy, we were also sad that he couldn’t travel here so it was an emotional roller-coaster.
“My whole pregnancy journey was a very emotional one, on my own.”
In November 2020, Shannen welcomed her baby boy, Shawn, without Jasi by her side. However, he was standing by closely watching via video call.
“My mum was here with me, and my husband was on video call for many hours, and he got to see the baby,” she said.
“It was very hard being alone when pregnant and even harder when the baby was born, taking care of him by myself.”
After many months of trying to get Jasi to Australia, in January this year Shannen got the call with news that her husband’s visa had been approved, however with flights into the country scarce, the pair still faced a battle to reunite.
“There were no flights. We tried so many things and we had flights cancelled.”
Things got worse when in April and May India’s was ravaged by COVID-19 outbreaks prompting the Australian government to ban anyone from India entering the country.
“Finally, a family friend told us we should get in contact with DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and register our case.
“Myself, my husband, my mum, my mother-in-law, and my brother-in-law, were all in contact with DFAT to get them all the right documents to get Jasi registered for help to get to Australia.”
After many dashed hopes, cancelled flights and thousands of dollars still waiting to be refunded from cancellations, they finally received the news they had been waiting for.
Jasi had secured a seat on a repatriation flight and on 23 May he finally left India.
He waited out his two weeks quarantine at Howard Springs in Darwin before jumping on a flight to Cairns.
Two years after the couple’s wedding they were finally together in Australia.
And Jasie got to hold his son for the first time.
“Everyone was saying to Jasi that your son won’t recognise you and it will take time to get to know him, but Jasi had been talking to him on video call since the day he was born, and he recognised him," Shannen said.
“He jumped straight into my husband’s arms, he knew him and now they are very close.
“It was a very beautiful reunion; I have no words it was very emotional; we were overjoyed and overwhelmed.”
The family have now happily settled into life in Port Douglas together.
Shannen is very aware that she is not alone in experiencing a separation from loved ones during the coronavirus pandemic and that they are one of the lucky ones to be reunited.
“People just like me are out there waiting for loved ones to come home.
“I hope those out there that are still suffering without their family members can be together and be a family again one day soon.”
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