Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks

Representing the 5th District of Indiana
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Indiana Delegation Asks President to Engage on Adoptions of Congolese Children

Feb 4, 2016
In The News

The Indiana congressional delegation sent a letter to President Barack Obama asking him to directly intervene in the plight of adopted children from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Indiana has the highest number of adopted Congolese children that have yet to join their American families.

In the letter, the members wrote, “We are writing to request that you revisit a serious problem our citizens are facing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  For the past two and a half years, more than 400 orphaned children in the DRC, legally adopted by American parents, have been denied permission by DRC authorities to join their American families.  Twenty-seven of these children have been adopted by families in Indiana, the state with the highest number of children stranded in the DRC.”

The members also wrote, “Our request is that you once again call President Kabila to discuss the issue, this time placing central emphasis on the matter and asking him for personal, verifiable commitments to you that the issue will be solved swiftly and thoroughly.  In particular, we hope you will ask that these long-completed adoption cases not be subject to any new requirements or constraints imposed by future legislation.”

The full text of the letter follows:

Dear Mr. President,

We are writing to request that you revisit a serious problem our citizens are facing in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  For the past two and a half years, more than 400 orphaned children in the DRC, legally adopted by American parents, have been denied permission by DRC authorities to join their American families.  Twenty-seven of these children have been adopted by families in Indiana, the state with the highest number of children stranded in the DRC.

These adoptions were completed in DRC courts, recognized by U.S. consular officers, and in accordance with American visa procedures and international conventions.  The final step before these children can be united with their new families in the United States is the issuance of DRC exit permits.  These have been denied while authorities there engage in protracted, confused, and unjustified reviews of the cases, including proposals for new legislation in the National Assembly.  The apparently political motivations for the delay in issuing the exit permits are unclear and inexplicable.  What is clear is that those motivations have nothing whatsoever to do with the welfare of these children whose families want nothing more than to give them the love and care they require.

Conscientious and vigorous efforts by U.S. Ambassador James Swan, Assistant Secretary of State Michelle Bond, and others at the Department of State are ongoing and much appreciated by us and the families involved.  In addition to asking for your engagement on this issue on previous occasions, we and other Members of Congress have also tried to influence DRC behavior by appealing to our counterparts in the National Assembly, the DRC Ambassador here in Washington, and to President Joseph Kabila himself.  None of these efforts have been successful.  Many promises by DRC authorities to take action have been unfulfilled and many promised dates for action have passed.  Explanations have been confusing, contradictory, incomplete or absent.

In the meantime, these children continue to suffer hardship, neglect and illness.   Some, adopted by families from other states, have even died because of inadequate medical care.  Our Hoosier families have strained their resources to provide medicines and other necessities to their children, visiting them in the DRC when they could.  Instead of progress toward family unification, they have seen only broken promises and missed deadlines.  Their hopes have been crushed repeatedly and their patience has been exhausted.   Therefore, after over 2 years of hardship for these American families without an end to the exit permit suspension in sight, we appeal to you on their behalf to address the problem directly.

We understand from press reports that you raised this matter with President Kabila at the end of a broader telephone conversation last March.  However, in the following ten months there has been no progress on the issue, and there is no evidence that President Kabila has made any efforts toward finding a resolution.

Our request is that you once again call President Kabila to discuss the issue, this time placing central emphasis on the matter and asking him for personal, verifiable commitments to you that the issue will be solved swiftly and thoroughly.  In particular, we hope you will ask that these long-completed adoption cases not be subject to any new requirements or constraints imposed by future legislation.

These suffering Hoosier parents and their children stuck in the DRC deserve our very best efforts to unite them at last in loving homes.

Sincerely,

 

Dan Coats

United States Senator

 

Joe Donnelly

United States Senator

 

Peter J. Visclosky

Member of Congress

 

Andre Carson

Member of Congress

 

Marlin Stutzman

Member of Congress

 

Larry Bucshon

Member of Congress

 

Todd Rokita

Member of Congress

 

Todd Young

Member of Congress

 

Susan Brooks

Member of Congress

 

Luke Messer

Member of Congress

 

Jackie Walorski

Member of Congress

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