On June 2, 2015, the Department of State issued a new alert which supersedes the alert of October 6, 2014. This newest alert strongly recommends against adopting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (“DRC”) at this time. This warning is separate from any potential ending of the current suspension on the issuance of exit letters. The Department of State noted that pending legislative changes could invalidate or suspend any future adoption decrees.
On December 29, 2012, PEAR issued a Cautionary Statement strongly recommending against adopting from DRC (). The reasons behind PEAR's recommendation included:
1. Lack of proper infrastructure to support ethical adoption practices and thwart unethical, illegal processes
2. Reports of extensive bribes paid to local officials by US adoption agencies and/or their local facilitators
3. Reports that orphanages are not using the money donated by agencies and adopting parents for the care of children
4. Repeated reports from foreign NGOs and adopting families of child laundering, baby selling, kidnapping, and coercive relinquishment practices called “harvesting”
5. Program growing too quickly without being tested for stability and capacity
6. Inconsistent and inexplicable fees
PEAR continues to stand behind this statement, as the past two and a half years has only seen an increase in the corruption and unethical behavior that prompted the statement in the end of 2012.
In addition, PEAR alerted adoptive parents (“APs”) of a failed attempt by American families to take their adopted Congolese children out of DRC without authorization by the Congolese government in September 2014 (). Since this time, PEAR has received reports of increased smuggling of adopted children by U.S. citizens out of DRC. PEAR strongly opposes such actions and reminds all APs that U.S. citizens adopting from foreign countries are required to obey the laws and regulations of the sending countries.
In a November 2014 alert, the Department of State specifically addressed the question of whether there was a method by which Americans could bring their adopted children to the U.S. other than with an exit letter obtained from Congolese immigration authorities (DGM) in Kinshasa. Their response was unequivocal: "No. Congolese law requires you to obtain an exit permit for your child. Once your I-600 has been approved and an orphan review is complete, the U.S. Embassy will schedule your visa interview. Please be advised that once you have a U.S. visa for your adopted child, you still must obtain an exit permit for your child to leave the DRC. We want to be clear that any attempts to leave DRC with your child without an exit permit could violate local law and significantly jeopardize the status of pending and future adoption cases between DRC and the United States. We understand the hardship for you and your children as the suspension period remains undefined. We believe that this current uncertainty could make adoptive families more vulnerable to solicitations by individuals or organizations offering inappropriate or illegal means of assistance. If you are approached with offers to help bring your children home that do not include obtaining exit permits by the appropriate DGM office in Kinshasa, we strongly recommend that you inform the U.S. Embassy and ask for clarity on the legality of the proposal before taking any action." ()
Despite this clearly-worded statement, American families continue to either take or have their adopted children taken out of DRC without exit letters issued by DGM Kinshasa. This may include the use of bribes, fraudulent paperwork, and/or illegally moving children across international borders. These actions are in violation of Congolese law and/or policy (), and are plainly contrary to the goal of ethical adoptions. PEAR strongly condemns the removal of adopted children from Congo in violation of the exit letter suspension.
For further information, please see:
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.