U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, traveled to Africa last week, and visited the Democratic Republic of Congo. While there, he had a productive meeting with President Kabila and Foreign Minister Tshibanda. Secretary Kerry discussed the current state of international adoptions from DRC during the meeting. He urged President Kabila for a quick resolution to the current suspension, which prevents children from joining their adoptive families. Some adoptive children have been separated from their families since the end of September, when the Congolese immigration authority, DGM, ceased issuing exit permits. These exit permits are required for children to leave the country with their adoptive parents.
Secretary Kerry understands the current state of international adoptions from Congo and desires to see it resolved quickly. He stated about his meeting in DRC, “I urged President Kabila to move as rapidly as possible in the review of the situation that raised some concerns, and also to lift the new freeze on international adoption from the D.R.C. We want to enable Congolese children who seek to be able to be matched with parents abroad who are eager to provide them with a secure and happy future.” Secretary Kerry’s belief that children belong in families is one that MLJ Adoptions shares. We are hopeful that his commitment to resolving the current adoption situation in D.R.C. will lead to exit permits being issued and children being able to join their forever families.
Secretary Kerry has a personal investment in international adoption with an adopted niece from China. He said, “My sister has adopted a young child from China. I know how positive and important this can be for everybody concerned, and I think it’s an issue that’s important to all of us as a matter of basic human decency.” It is encouraging to know that Secretary Kerry’s belief in the power of adoption is rooted in his own personal experience.
Secretary Kerry’s visit to D.R.C. comes on the heels of the disappointing news that the Congolese delegation of adoption officials would be rescheduling their visit to the United States. This visit was planned for the end of April, but has not yet been rescheduled. The U.S. State Department is committed to supporting Democratic Republic of Congo. Secretary Kerry acknowledged the complexity of not only international adoption from Congo, but also rebuilding the war torn country saying, “But even as we look down a complicated road, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a place of enormous potential. Its people provide enormous potential. And the people of Congo want a better future. The fact is that together, we have an ability to be able to work to support the people of the Congo, to build a more secure and prosperous future, which is a responsibility that belongs to all of us.”
MLJ Adoptions is hopeful that the increased political pressure will lead to adopted children being able to join their families and more resources being available to all children of Democratic Republic of Congo. We invite you to advocate on behalf of the Children in Families First Act which would require the United States to place the highest priority on getting children out of institutions and into families. We continue to place a high priority on advocacy as well. Last week, CEO Michele Jackson, met with Senator Mary Landrieu and Congressman Trent Franks to discuss further advocacy efforts.