Irish gay dad blocked from leaving Russia with his baby daughter appeals for help

Oliver James and his daughter Vivien are stuck in limbo unable to return home and the situation is becoming more urgent.

A man leans on his elbow lying on a couch, a tiny baby cradled beside him

Oliver James, a gay Irish dad stranded in Russia with his two month old daughter, Vivien, has appealed for assistance in urging the relevant authorities to help bring his family home.

Oliver shared with GCN, “I am a gay Irish citizen stranded in Russia with a two month-old child trying to get home to my home in London.” Oliver’s daughter was born eight weeks ago via surrogacy and since then, he has struggled to obtain the necessary travel documents to leave Russia.

He described how the Department of Foreign Affairs requested that Oliver undergo a DNA test by an Irish paternity service which must be witnessed by a member of staff from the Russian Embassy. However, Oliver shared, “The test arrived in Russia seven weeks ago and I assume has been sitting in the embassy gathering dust. No one from the embassy will speak to me about a date for the test.

“I was advised these things can normally take six to eight weeks to get sorted, however I fear that my six to eight weeks has not been started yet as no one from the DFA or embassy has seen my paperwork, and my emails pleading for help have been ignored.”  

The situation for the Irish gay dad and his daughter is becoming very urgent. Oliver described, “It’s now over 12 weeks since I arrived in Russia, my visa has expired so I’m here without a visa now. It’s seven months since I told the embassy and DFA I was coming to Russia to have a baby, and to date they have not even asked me to prove I’m an Irish citizen, they have not asked to see my child’s birth certificate or to see the court documents making me the parent of my child.”

A Russian court ruled on April 23 that Oliver was the sole parent of Vivien. Due to this, Oliver described, “She is not a Russian citizen. She has to inherit her nationality from me.”

Oliver asked the embassy if they could send their necessary witness to a clinic where the DNA test could happen or if he could bring a doctor to the embassy. He even offered a Zoom meeting where he could carry out the test, with a UK MP and a police officer offering to join, but nothing has been forthcoming.

Having been unable to get home, Oliver is beginning to struggle financially. The rental agreement for the place he is staying with his daughter is up at the end of the month and if the situation continues much longer he will also struggle to pay for flights home. However, Oliver is adamant he does not want financial help, just assistance in getting their case sorted.

He continued, “I’ve been informed that the ambassador (Brian McElduff) has the power to issue me a temporary passport which would get me home to London where I would have the support of my friends and family, however I’m unable to contact him. I spoke to the DFA to see if they can share his email or his assistants. They said no, that I ‘need to tweet him’. I’ve done this ten times and not had a reply yet.”

Oliver appeared on Liveline during the week to discuss his situation. This lead to the DFA issuing a statement saying it was, “important to note that issues around surrogacy are complex and fact specific, involving issues such as citizenship, parentage and guardianship” and that they were required “to act in compliance with Irish law and so it is the responsibility of the genetic father to ensure that the requirements of local law have been complied with.”

The DFA also stated it was “aware of the case and is offering consular assistance”, however Oliver has said that is not true.

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