Philadelphia couple with newborn stranded in Ghana due to coronavirus pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's been an emotional journey for Philadelphia couple Steve and Zara Wilcox.

First, they welcomed their baby girl, Vernice, who was born in Ghana through a surrogate.

But, because of the pandemic, the U.S. Embassy in Ghana's capital city of Accra is closed and the Wilcoxes and their new daughter are now stranded there.

"We have no idea when we can ever get back. The embassy keeps saying we need a DNA test and we say, 'OK, we'll do a DNA test.' But (they say), 'oh, you can't do a DNA test,'" Steve Wilcox said.

Vernice needs a passport to come home and a DNA test can only be administered by the U.S. embassy. Vernice was conceived through in vitro fertilization and born on March 23.

"Here we are, 13 weeks after she was born, not only do we not have a passport, the embassy won't even tell us when we can start the process of getting a passport," Wilcox said.

"I can't go back. I can't apply for a job, and we are stranded here," his wife Zara said.

The Wilcoxes said the embassy has stopped responding to their emails. They're now working with Senator Pat Toomey's office in hopes of making progress towards coming home.

"Why is the embassy closed due to the pandemic when none of the Ghanaian offices are closed?" Wilcox questioned.

Senator Toomey's office tells Action News they can't speak on correspondence with individuals. But the Wilcoxes shared a letter saying the senator is working on getting them answers.

Meanwhile, the couple said they are trying not to let the hold up overshadow their joy of being new parents.
Copyright © 2020 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.