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 (http://radiookapi.net/actualite/2014/09/14/trafic-denfants-la-dgm-demantele-un-reseau-dirige-par-un-citoyen-americain/). This news story has been reported as "child selling" or trafficking by DRC news outlets (http://youtu.be/Ym4kecKFvIM). 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.(http://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/country-information/alerts-and-notices/DRC9-27-13.html). 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 (http://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/country-information/alerts-and-notices/DRC4-28-14.html). 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.