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Utah family reunited with adopted sons after COVID-19 travel restrictions

Posted at 6:19 PM, May 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-16 20:19:28-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Tonya and Mark Hoopes are finally reunited with their two sons after over three years.

Five years ago, the couple decided to adopt two boys from Tanzania. Three years ago, Mark moved to Africa to live with the boys full-time and take care of them while Tonya remained here in Utah.

“We could’ve never ever imagined that it was going to take five years,” Tonya told FOX 13. “But it was absolutely worth it.”

FOX 13 first told their story last month when they faced a major hurdle in the process.

When it looked like things were finally moving in the right direction and the boys could come to the U.S., the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and Tanzania shut its borders.

After working with national, state, and local leaders, along with the Embassy in Tanzania, they were able to get approval to fly home on a charter plane. They arrived in Utah Friday evening.

“Two new citizens today!" the couple said excitedly. "Once they went through border control, they became citizens!”

Friends and family lined the streets as the three arrived back at their home on Friday night.

When asked what the first thing they wanted to do as a family, Mark said a home cooked roast, and the kids wanted to go on a bike ride.

“Keep your promises because part of the reason that we persevered is we promised,” Mark said. “We were going to come back and get them, and we kept that promise... I don’t know what I could’ve done or how I would’ve felt if we would’ve left them there after all those promises.”