A 12-year-old Bahamian evacuee who was sent to a Miami Garden shelter for abused or abandoned children when she and her family were separated was reunited with her loved ones on Thursday night.
According to the Miami Herald, Kaytora Paul was allowed to return to her mother and her aunt after spending four days at His House Children’s Home, which houses unaccompanied migrant children, under the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Kaytora arrived in the U.S. with her godmother after they flew from Nassau to West Palm Beach to escape Abaco island.
Kaytora’s mother, Katty Paul, had previously said that the family had to make the difficult decision to put Kaytora in her godmother’s care after the family was rescued when their roof collapsed—and after spending six days sleeping in their vehicle.
“There wasn’t enough space. At that point you have to make a decision,” Paul explained earlier this week. “I sent my 12-year-old with her godmother, while I stayed with our two youngest and my husband stayed with our adult son.”
However, when Kaytora and her godmother arrived in Florida, U.S. Customs and Border Protection ended up separating the pair because the woman was not Kaytora’s biological parent.
When Kaytora’s biological aunt went to collect her, officials refused to release the child back to the family’s custody.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expedited the family’s reunification after public outcry over the family separation grew. HHS claimed that the government was “unaware the girl was a hurricane survivor” at the time of the separation.
That is some relief after Katty Paul was initially told that she would have to go through a long process to get her daughter back – including providing several documents to prove their relationship.