The Journal Gazette - Congolese Adoptees Finding Way Home


Date: March 8, 2016
Location: Fort Wayne, IN
Issues: Family

By Marlin Stutzman

Last month more than 150 Congolese children adopted by families in the U.S. will be allowed to move to their new homes after two years in limbo as a result of a ban on foreign adoptions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A moratorium on adoptions of Congolese children to foreign parents was enacted in September 2013. The entire Indiana delegation sent a request to President Barack Obama asking for his attention and action on this serious issue. Today, there are 20 Hoosier families anxiously waiting to welcome their 27 adopted children home from the DRC. Indiana has more adopted children awaiting release than any other state.

The DRC has gone far beyond any previous adoption ban or suspension by restricting already-adopted children from leaving the country. Originally intended to last one year, the ban has now stretched into its third year. This suspension has halted the issuance of exit visas to the adopted children, which prevents them from leaving the DRC to unite with their new families.

This has placed 1,000 adopted children in limbo while forcing them into crowded foster care where they are hungry, sick and poorly cared for. Some children adopted by families in other states have died as a result of inadequate medical care.

Over the past two and a half years, my colleagues in Congress have made multiple trips to Kinshasa to meet with government officials, and we have sent many letters campaigning for the release of these children.

Promises were broken, causing chaos in the children's lives and breaking the hearts of families eager to unite. These delays display the lack of care for the necessities and well-being of the children they say they are trying to protect.

On Feb. 2, the entire Indiana delegation sent a request to Obama, asking for his attention and action on this serious issue. Though he mentioned the situation at the end of a broader telephone conversation in March 2015, we ask for another call specifically focused on this matter with verified commitments to issuing exit visas these children have been approved to receive, so that they may be released to their loving families.

Anxiously awaited news came to a lucky few on Feb. 19. The DRC agreed to release 159 children to their foreign adoptive parents. While this is welcome news, 300 children remain separated from their American families. I commend Chairman Edward D. Royce, R-Calif., and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as the State Department, for their steadfast dedication to getting every child to their family. Our work is not yet finished.