We began our adoption of two sisters from the DR Congo last February after a ten year long desire to adopt. This adoption process has been intensely invasive. It started with our home-study over a year ago, where we sat with an almost stranger for hours and discussed our values, parenting beliefs, life experiences, religion, and home life. We sat with this social worker in our home, let her look at every nook and cranny, and let her ask our children questions. It continued with background checks and multiple sets of fingerprints sent to the state and the FBI. Add in physicals for everyone in our family and a complete disclosure of all our finances to every party involved, and endless paperwork filled out for the Department of State, the Congo courts, and our adoption agency. We have never exposed ourselves so completely and been scrutinized so closely.
AND THAT IS OKAY. It is for the sake of the the children who deserve to be placed in home where they have a chance at love and safety.
We are in the very final stages of our adoption. We got through court in the DR Congo last summer and are the legal parents of our girls. We have passed the immigration steps that we need to, and are currently 4 months into the 3-6months it is supposed to take for the US Embassy in Kinshasa to investigate our adoption to ensure it was completed ethically. Once that step in complete (which could happen any day), they will set a date to issue our daughters’ visas to come home.
Sadly, these visas will be worthless. In the DR Congo, even when you have your children and their visas in hand, the last step to leaving the country is obtaining an exit letter from the entity of their government that handles immigration – this entity is called the DGM. Last September, the DGM decided to stop issuing these exit letters to adopted children. They made this decision amid rumors of adoption fraud and “rehoming”. Their stated plan was to shut down for up to a year to restructure and investigate.
Chad and I, and every adoptive parent I know, are firmly committed to ethical adoptions and we want the DGM, and every party involved in adoption, to do all that they possibly can to ensure that each child placed in a home truly needs a home and will be treated well. We are in this for the children.
This shut-down is complicated and I am giving you all these details so that you know I am not trying to oversimplify the issue or turn a blind eye to the issues in adoption. We want the DGM to dig deep into whatever suspicions they have.
Our problem with this mess is the complete freeze of exit letters that has taken place and the lack of a plan. It has been over six months. What exactly is the DGM doing to investigate? How will this change the adoption process? Exactly how many families and children are being affected? How will they work through the enormous backlog when they finally do issue exit letters again? Do exit letters have to stop completely while all of this happens? Can they let families who were through court before the shutdown take their children home? The U.S. Department of State cannot answer some of the most basic questions put forth to them. Just a couple of weeks ago in a conference call with adoptive parents , they told us that the freeze would be in place until at least September, and gave us little hope that it would actually be lifted then. So we are left with a hundred questions and no answers, and very little hope. If the US Department of State isn’t asking these questions and getting answers for us, who will?
In the meantime, literally hundreds of children are waiting for their families. The Congo courts are still (more slowly) issuing adoption adoption decrees and the US Embassy is still (more slowly) issuing visas for these children to go home. Every day that passes with this suspension in place adds to the number of children waiting and adds to the wait once the suspension is over.
Our situation, as depressing as it is, it not as sad as other families I know – a mother who went to the country to pick up their daughter after being promised they would receive an exit letter, stayed with her for five months, had to return to her children and husband at home and is still waiting to bring her home… a father missing the birth of a child while trying to get his adopted children home….. and so many families who have spent every dime of their savings on their adoption and who are now scraping together money to pay monthly foster care fees that have no end in sight.
If these children are waiting and waiting to begin their lives with families, it needs to be for a real reason.
We want a voice. We want our children to have a voice. That voice should be coming from our government and it is not.
We have answered every question asked of us and we deserve the same respect.
This isn’t an issue of diplomacy, this is an issue of apathy. We need the U.S. Department of State to care. These children matter.
These are our daughters. We received these pictures the day we were matched with them over a year ago. Although I have looked at these faces countless times since then, my heart still beats fast every time, because I know they are worth it. These two girls matter. Every day of their life matters.
Today, please take the time to sign this petition and fill out letters at the end of it. Please share this blog post on Facebook, through email, on Twitter, and on Instagram. Use the hashtag #DRCStuck.