Congo finishes review of adoptions on hold since 2013
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 1/20/16, 01:25 pm
Congolese authorities have reviewed all pending cases of more than 1,000 adoptive children in the Democratic Republic of Congo after drafting new adoption legislation.
In November, local authorities approved exit permits for 72 children, but many children remained pending the completion of the new adoption law.
The draft law, to be voted on in March, would allow international adoptions only if there are no options in the country. Under the new law, Congo will only consider adoption requests from diplomatic allies, and adoptive parents must present themselves before a local tribunal.
“The government has completed its review of all international adoption applications that have been pending since the establishment of a moratorium in 2013,” said François Balumuene, Congo’s ambassador to the United States. “Adoptive parents will be informed of decisions made on these cases by their respective embassies soon.”
Local authorities put a freeze on international adoptions in 2013 due to claims of corruption and falsified documents. The ban included cases of legally approved adoptions in which the government refused to issue exit permits.
“It’s wonderful that the Democratic Republic of Congo leaders have moved forward in honoring the adoption processes,” said Becky Weichhand, executive director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. “It’s a wonderful success story in terms of determination, advocacy, and focus.”
Lambert Mende, a spokesman for the Congolese government, explained the law would ensure the government the right “to fight against human trafficking as well as other risks to which children may be exposed when taken from their natural environment for permanent care in another country.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.