By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congressman Spencer Bachus (R) from Vestavia released a statement after the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation supporting American families who have run into barriers trying to adopt orphan children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In September the Congolese government suspended international adoptions while hundreds of families were still going through the adoption process. One of these was the Bridgers of Birmingham. Representative Bridgers personally met with Wellon Bridgers about her family’s situation. Wellon and her husband Stephen haves been trying to adopt twin boys from the poor African nation for three years.
Congressman Bridgers said, “The Bridgers and other American families have been waiting patiently to provide a loving, caring, and safe home for children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is emotionally difficult to go through the long adoption process, only to have it shut down because of the moratorium that the Congolese government has imposed on the exit letters that are needed for children to leave the country. The resolution passed by the House today is designed to help move the U.S. government and the Congolese government closer to a resolution of this very unfortunate situation.”
Congressman Bachus signed a letter on April 17 to the President and Prime Minister of the DRC asking that adoptions already underway for more than 460 children be allowed to move forward.
After that Rep. Bachus sent a letter to House leadership urging that the resolution (H. Res. 588) be brought to the floor as a priority for consideration in July. The measure passed by voice vote.
According to UNICEF, an estimated 4,000,000 orphans are living in the war torn Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congo has been plagued with war and cyclical violence since the mid-1990s. The United States has provided $274 million in bilateral aid and $165,000,000 in emergency humanitarian assistant to the Democratic Republic of Congo in fiscal year 2013 alone.
On September 27, 2013, the Congolese Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration, informed the United States Embassy in Kinshasa that effective September 25, 2013, they had suspended issuance of exit permits to adopted Congolese children seeking to depart the country with their adoptive parents after news reports surfaced that some Congolese children were not placed in safe adoptive homes in the U.S. United States families with finalized adoptions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the necessary legal paperwork and visas are ready to travel home with their children but are currently unable to do so because of the sudden virtual moratorium.
The resolution by the U.S. House of Representatives:
(1) affirms that all children deserve a safe, loving, and permanent family
(2) recognizes the importance of ensuring that international adoptions of all children are conducted in an ethical and transparent manner
(3) expresses concern over the impact on children and families caused by the current suspension of exit permit issuance within the Democratic Republic of Congo
(4) respectfully requests that the Congolese Government. (A) resume processing adoption cases and issuing exit permits via the Ministry of Gender and Family’s Inter-ministerial Adoption Committee; (B) prioritize the processing of inter-country adoptions which were initiated before the suspension; and (C) expedite the processing of those adoptions which involve medically fragile children.
(5) encourages continued dialogue and cooperation between the United States Department of State and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to improve the inter-country adoption process and ensure the welfare of all children adopted from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Congressman Spencer Bachus represents the Sixth Congressional District of Alabama. Rep. Bachus will be retiring after this term, his eleventh. Longtime Alabama Policy Institute
President Gary Palmer recently won the Republican Primary Runoff to be Bachus’s replacement.