Thursday, September 25, 2014

USDOS Office of Children’s Issues Announces New Chief of the Adoption Division

Welcome Trish Maskew, New Chief of the Adoption Division

The Office of Children’s Issues is pleased to announce the appointment of Trish Maskew as the new Chief of the Adoption Division. 
Trish joins the Department of State from the Department of Justice where she worked in the Civil Division for almost six years.  Before joining the U.S. government, she held several positions in the intercountry adoption field: as a program coordinator for an adoption agency; a board member and interim administrator for the Joint Council on International Children’s Services; the founder and President of Ethica, a non-profit organization dedicated to ethical and transparent adoptions; and as an expert consultant to the Hague Conference on Private International Law.  She is the author of “Our Own: Adopting and Parenting the Older Child” and numerous articles on adoption ethics and practice.  She earned her J.D. from American University.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

American Families Caught Attempting Illegal DRC Exit

According to reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo ("DRC"), officials intercepted an attempt by three American adoptive families to remove their children from Congo without proper authorization (  This news story has been reported as "child selling" or trafficking by DRC news outlets (  PEAR understands that the three families in question had legally adopted the seven affected children according to DRC regulations, that they had US visas, and that they were attempting to take the children from the country without the permission of the Congolese government in the form of the mandatory exit letter from Congolese immigration (known by its acronym "DGM").  The seven children are all believed to be in the custody of the Congolese government; the American adoptive parents had all left the country prior to the police operation.  Congolese news has reported that one American, M. Jessy Samuel, was implicated in the scheme.

In September 2013, the Congolese government announced a one-year suspension on the issuance of exit permits.(  In April 2014, the US Embassy stated that the Congolese government was aware that at least five American adoptive families had taken their children out of the country without exit permits (  We have been informed that many more than five adoptive families have taken their adopted children from Congo without the proper authorization during the suspension, which may have happened with agency complicity and/or through the payment of bribes. In the present case, it is not believed that any adoption agencies were involved in the attempted illegal exit. 

Given that the Congolese government has officially stated that no exit letters will be issued until such time as the suspension is lifted, PEAR does not believe that the United States Embassy in Kinshasa should be issuing any entry visas, as this deliberately contravenes current DRC policy and puts prospective parents in the difficult position of having children that are “legally” adopted in DRC and permitted to enter the U.S., but are unable to leave the country under until such time as the suspension is lifted.  

As such, PEAR calls on the US Embassy in Kinshasa to immediately cease the issuance of entry visas until such time as the suspension is lifted.  Continuing to issue visas during the suspension will only encourage adoptive parents to attempt to circumvent Congolese laws to remove their adopted children from the country.  

We also call on members of the adoption lobby, DRC prospective parents, adoption bloggers, and adoption agencies to be truthful in their knowledge of the issued exit letters, of any “underground” routes that may have been used to illegally remove adoptees from DRC, and to advocate for a fully transparent and legitimate adoption process. We would also remind all adoptive parents with legally adopted children in DRC of the risks of attempting an illegal exit from DRC, and that a valid exit letter from DGM in Kinshasa is required in order for your children to legally exit Congo.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.