- Associated Press - Saturday, October 18, 2014

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) - The Ebola epidemic is delaying the adoption of a disabled Liberian boy to a St. Cloud couple.

Jason and Jessica Neal, who work as missionaries with Teamwork Africa, have been attempting to adopt 8-year-old Emmanuel from Liberia since July, according to the St. Cloud Times (https://on.sctimes.com/1polEIE ).

Jessica Neal met Emmanuel in May at the Teamwork Africa orphanage in the city of Lower Johnsonville. The Neals have canceled multiple trips to the West African nation since then and sought guidance from officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are taking every precaution and trusting all of the experts. It doesn’t do any good to do all this and then get Ebola and die,” Jessica Neal said. “Usually you would adopt, go to the country and get your child, and then bring the child home and celebrate. This time it’s going to look different because we can’t just put our own country, our own children and our own community at risk. We have to be extremely cautious.”

The Neal family has avoided watching news coverage of the Ebola outbreak. They are instead keeping in daily contact with Teamwork Africa co-workers, who’ve reported two Ebola-related deaths at the orphanage of more than 240 children. So far, Emmanuel, who uses a wheelchair because of deformed legs, has avoided the Ebola virus and remained healthy.

The Neals have helped raise more than $30,000 to set up thousands of sanitizing stations around the country that feature clean water treated with chlorine and soap.

“The only thing (the Ebola epidemic) has done has changed our intensity of trying to get him home sooner,” Jessica Neal said. “When we get him here alive, it’s going to be the biggest sigh of relief.”

Ideally, the Neals would have Emmanuel quarantined for 21 days and then sent to Ghana where the family could pick him up. If the logistics of that plan don’t work, the family is prepared to be quarantined for 21 days themselves.


Information from: St. Cloud Times, https://www.sctimes.com

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