167 Congressmembers Urge Obama to Intervene on Behalf of 900 Congolese Children Adopted by Americans

(Photo: The Christian Post/Sonny Hong)Candlelight vigil for adoptive parents of children stuck in the Democratic Republic of Congo, organized by Both Ends Burning, Washington, D.C., June 24, 2014.

A bipartisan and bicameral group of 167 members of Congress sent a Wednesday letter to President Barack Obama urging him to intervene on behalf of the approximately 900 Congolese children who have been adopted, or are in the process of being adopted, by American parents but are not being allowed by the Democratic Republic of Congo to travel to their families.

DRC President Joseph Kabila will be in Washington, D.C. next month, the letter notes. Obama should use that event to press Kabila "for an expeditious resolution that is in the best interest of these children,"wrote the members of Congress, including Republicans and Democrats, Senators and Representatives.

As the letter points out, the DRC suspended adoptions by foreign parents in September 2013. Even the 350 children who were already adopted were not given permission to leave the country. At least 10 Congolese children who had been matched with American parents have died since then.

"Overcoming this impasse," the letter continues, "is a priority for many in Congress and we appreciate the State Department's efforts to raise this issue with its Congolese counterparts."

Previous efforts by the U.S. State Department have failed to resolve the issue, the letter states. "That is why we are requesting your direct engagement with President Kabila."

Last month, about 60 of those adoptive families traveled to Washington, D.C., to speak to their members of Congress about the problem. At a candlelight vigil during the event, Kelly Dempsey, counsel and director of Outreach and Advocacy for Both Ends Burning, told The Christian Post that about 41 of the children are in critical condition and can only receive the life-saving care they need if they are allowed to travel to their American homes.

"There is an epidemic in international adoption with stuck families all over the globe," Dempsey added.
"... We're doing tactical one-by-one cases instead of having a broad foreign policy that promotes and protects a child's best interest. Children deserve better than a life in an institution, and if a loving American family can provide for them then we should encourage it, we should promote it and we should protect that right."