London mother with heart condition told she can’t bring twin daughters home to UK for her lifesaving care

·4-min read

A London mother who needs emergency heart treatment in the UK is battling the Government over its refusal to allow her adopted twins to travel with her from Sri Lanka.

Lisa Keerthichandra and her husband Dash fell in love with Lavinia and Aria at an orphanage in Sri Lanka when the children were six months old and adopted them in 2019.

The couple from Enfield, who moved temporarily to Sri Lanka in 2013 and have since divided their time between their two homes, say they have been told by UK passport officials they cannot bring the children back to the UK, where Mrs Keerthichandra needs to undergo treatment.

The 44-year-old business owner has been diagnosed with unstable angina, putting her at risk of a sudden heart attack.

Lawyers and visa experts insist the twins, now three, are eligible for British passports.

However Mrs Keerthichandra says UK emergency passport officials told her to leave them in care while she flies home for an indefinite hospital stay.

This is despite the children having British adoption certificates and UK passport-carrying parents.

She told the Standard: “It is crazy that anybody in a UK government organisation would deem it acceptable to advise traumatised children be put back into care. It was horrific.

“When you are a mum, you don’t fear for your life for yourself but for your babies. It wouldn’t be possible to return to the UK for treatment without the girls.

Lisa and Dash with twins Aria and Lavinia (Lisa Keerthichandra)
Lisa and Dash with twins Aria and Lavinia (Lisa Keerthichandra)

“They have never had a single day without me and for me to disappear would just be another huge trauma that they wouldn’t understand.”

Health experts are unable to treat Mrs Keerthichandra in Sri Lanka, where the family currently live, due to complications surrounding her existing condition known as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS).

Doctors agreed it was much safer for her to fly home and be placed under the immediate care of her EDS specialist and cardiologists.

Lisa pictured with her daughter Lavinia (Lisa Keerthichandra)
Lisa pictured with her daughter Lavinia (Lisa Keerthichandra)

The family says it faces having to pay £8,000 in visa and legal fees on top of the £3,000 already spent while experts cannot agree on how to bring the children home from their house near Colombo.

Her condition means she often has to stay indoors, still struggles to breathe and is unable to pick up her children.

She said: “I had been having chest pains, getting out of breath, collapsing and falling down but we put it down to the stress of everything on top of my EDS.

“The doctors confirmed my condition was unstable which means I could be laying down in bed and have a heart attack.

Twins Aria and Lavinia are described as kind and adventurous three-year-olds (Lisa Keerthichandra)
Twins Aria and Lavinia are described as kind and adventurous three-year-olds (Lisa Keerthichandra)

“The first few days after I came out of hospital, anything I did I was in so much pain I could just die at any moment.”

The twins’ birth certificates, adoption certificates and passports were initially registered under the local government system in Sri Lanka.

Following their adoption, the couple applied for the twins to have UK tourist visas to meet their grandparents.

But it was rejected by UK Immigration and Visas (UKVI) officials who said the girls were not valid tourists because they had a claim to British nationality.

Lavinia pictured with grandmother Sandra (Lisa Keerthichandra)
Lavinia pictured with grandmother Sandra (Lisa Keerthichandra)

UKVI advised that the twins apply for the right to abode but this was again rejected because their adoption was not registered by the Hague Convention.

This means British citizenship, and Mr and Mrs Keerthichandra’s ability to pass down their nationality to their children, is not automatic and is at the discretion of the Home Office.

“This was despite them having told us that this is what we needed to do after seeing all our documents,” Lisa said.

After another rejected application, Lisa went through the family courts and the twins were granted full British adoption birth certificates in September.

Twins Aria and Lavinia (Lisa Keerthichandra)
Twins Aria and Lavinia (Lisa Keerthichandra)

The following day, Lisa was admitted to hospital and diagnosed and the family contacted passport advisors to see if the twins were entitled to emergency travel documents. They were told “yes”.

But they said their claim was rejected again, despite the twins now having British birth papers.

“Even the passport advice line said they were entitled,” Mrs Keerthichandra said.

Lisa with twins Lavinia and Aria (Lisa Keerthichandra)
Lisa with twins Lavinia and Aria (Lisa Keerthichandra)

“At no point was anybody under the impression that there was a question over the claim to nationality after the adoption was registered in the UK.”

The family are now preparing an appeal via their lawyers in Sri Lanka.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office states it would not advise someone to put their children into care and would recommend alternative arrangements.

A Government spokesperson said: “We have been in contact with a British National and provided advice related to their application for Emergency Travel Documents.”

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