Washington Congressional Delegation Urges Continued Progress by DRC on Adoption Permits

Congolese government agrees to issue more than 200 exit permits to adopted children Children will finally be able to join their families, in their new homes

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and the Washington state congressional delegation urged Ambassador François Nkuna Balumuene of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to ensure that resolution of all remaining adoption cases by the end of March be his government’s highest priority.

The delegation expressed their appreciation to the Ambassador for the DRC’s decision to begin issuing exit permits once again to Congolese children who have been adopted by American parents. The Congolese government recently announced it would grant more than 200 exit permits. A number of Washington state residents were affected by the exit letter ban and are awaiting final approval to bring their children home to the United States.

“The exit permits suspension, which has been in place since September 2013, has deeply affected the lives of our constituents, as well as hundreds of American families around the country,” the WA state delegation wrote. [The] “recent announcement that more than 200 exit permits would be issued is very welcome news for our adoptive families, as is the commitment to continue the review process until all cases have been resolved. ”

In September 2013, the DRC suspended exit permits for adopted children, a devastating decision to many adoptive parents in Washington state and around the world. Although the children had been legally adopted under Congolese law and received U.S. visas, they were unable to join their families in the United States. Many Americans moved to the DRC to care for their adopted children causing significant personal and financial hardship for their families.

Senators Murray and Cantwell were joined by Reps. Dave Reichert, Jim McDermott, Adam Smith, Rick Larsen, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Suzan DelBene, Derek Kilmer, Denny Heck, and Dan Newhouse in expressing appreciation.

In 2015, the senators worked to pass the Adoptive Family Relief Act.  The bill waived visa renewal fees for families who legally adopted a foreign child, but have been unable to leave their adopted child’s country. 

The full letter can be found here.