DRC agrees to finalize 71 adoptions on hold for two years

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 6/01/15, 02:33 pm

Seventy-one children who have waited for two years will now have new homes. In 2013, a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) ban on foreign adoption put on hold nearly 1,000 ongoing individual adoptions. On Saturday, Albert Paka, judicial adviser at DRC’s interior ministry, announced 71 of those adoption processes will be completed with families across five countries, including the United States and Belgium.

The DRC in 2013 had the fifth highest number of international adoptions by American—311 children—but it suspended foreign adoptions after officials cited cases of children “sold to homosexuals” and others mistreated or abandoned. American families that had gained U.S. visas for children could do nothing but wait after the DRC denied them exit permits.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry unsuccessfully met with DRC President Joseph Kabila in August to urge him to lift the suspension. The State Department invited a DRC delegation last April to visit the homes the adopted children were placed in, but officials declined.

Megan Lestino, director of public policy and education at the National Council for Adoption, believes the DRC response to adoption concerns should have been better: “It’s not something you should shut a system down for. You should try to fix it.” Lestino compared the adoption process to food shipments.

“We know sometimes food goes bad or [gets] stolen, but we never stop sending. … It’s a necessary human service,” she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

Read more from this writer