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Landrieu, 167 Members of Congress Lead Letter Urging the Release of 460 Stalled Adoptions

Today, U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, D-La., co-chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, led 60 Senators and 107 Representatives from both parties in sending a letter to President Obama requesting his personal engagement to resolve over 900 international adoption cases of Congolese children who either have been or are in the process of being adopted by American families, yet who are unable to obtain Congolese exit permits due to a suspension in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The letter urges the President to use the upcoming U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, taking place in Washington, D.C., from Aug. 4-6, and the time leading up to this event as an opportunity to press for an expeditious resolution that is in the best interest of these children. In September 2013, DRC immigration authorities announced a suspension of all exit letters, an immigration document required to leave the country for all internationally adopted children. Since then, as many as 900 families are stuck in limbo waiting for the legal process for adopting a child in need of a family to be finalized.  Read the letter below or online.

This suspension is having tragic consequences for these children as they wait to be united with their American families.  Already, ten children who were matched with American families have died since the suspension went into place and many more have urgent, life-threatening medical problems. There are 148 children who have been legally adopted by US families and have been given Congolese passports and U.S. visas, but are still waiting for exit letters to be able to leave the DRC.

“The U.S. Department of State has continuously engaged the Congolese government to resolve the remaining completed cases, but to date all overtures have been unsuccessful,” Sen. Landrieu and her colleagues wrote. “For example, when the DRC Director of General Migration (DGM) Francois Beya visited the United States in June, he received multiple requests for meetings ranging from State Department officials to Members of Congress. Mr. Beya declined to schedule any meetings on the suspended exit permit issue. That is why we are requesting the President’s direct engagement with President Kabila.”

The letter requests that President Obama raises this human rights crisis with President Kabila prior to his attendance at the U.S.-African Leaders Summit next month, and then use the opportunity of the summit to press for a firm resolution.

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

We write to ask for your personal engagement to resolve over 900 international adoption cases of Congolese children who either have been or are in the process of being adopted by American families, yet who are unable to obtain Congolese exit permits due to a suspension in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We understand that you have invited President Joseph Kabila to Washington in August for the first ever U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, and we urge you to use this event and the time leading up to it as an opportunity to press for an expeditious resolution that is in the best interest of these children.

 In September 2013, the DRC suspended the issuance of exit permits for children adopted by foreign parents, reportedly due to concerns about suspected malfeasance in the local DRC adoption process and lack of information about the well-being of adopted children after they arrived in their new homes.  This suspension is having tragic consequences for these children as they wait to be united with their American families.  Already, 10 children who were matched with American families have died since the suspension went into place and many more have urgent, life-threatening medical problems. There are 148 children who have been legally adopted by US families and have been given Congolese passports and U.S. visas, but are still waiting for exit letters to be able to leave the DRC. 

 Overcoming this impasse is a priority for many in Congress and we appreciate the State Department’s efforts to raise this issue with its Congolese counterparts. In April of this year, a bipartisan and bicameral group of 170 Members of Congress wrote to President Kabila and Prime Minister Matata Ponyo, urging the DRC government to resume processing exit permits for adopted children. To date, there has been no official response to this letter. Secretary Kerry raised this issue directly with President Kabila during his visit to Kinshasa in May and later that month the DRC government did release exit letters for 19 children adopted by American families, 4 of whom were medically fragile. Unfortunately, this represented only a small percentage of the completed cases and leaves dozens of critically ill children without the medical care they need to survive. The U.S. Department of State has continuously engaged the Congolese government to resolve the remaining completed cases, but to date all overtures have been unsuccessful. For example, when the DRC Director of General Migration (DGM) Francois Beya visited the United States in June, he received multiple requests for meetings ranging from State Department officials to Members of Congress. Mr. Beya declined to schedule any meetings on the suspended exit permit issue. That is why we are requesting your direct engagement with President Kabila.

We respectfully request that you raise this human rights crisis with President Kabila prior to his attendance at the U.S.-African Leaders Summit next month, and then use the opportunity of the summit to press for a firm resolution.  We would appreciate your leadership on this issue to help unite these children and their families. 

 Thank you for your attention to this important request.

 Sincerely,

Senator Mary Landrieu                                               

Senator James M. Inhofe

Representative Michele Bachmann                              

Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson

Representative Trent Franks                                       

Representative Collin C. Peterson

Senator Bob Corker                                                     

Senator Mitch McConnell

Senator Barbara Mikulski                                            

Senator Tom Harkin                                                               

Senator Claire McCaskill                                             

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Senator Kay R. Hagan                                                

Senator Charles E. Grassley    

Senator Richard Burr                                                  

Senator Roy Blunt

Senator Sherrod Brown                                               

Senator Pat Roberts

Senator Ted Cruz                                                        

Senator Rand Paul, M.D.

Senator Debbie Stabenow                                            

Senator John Cornyn                                       

Senator Michael B. Enzi                                              

Senator Jerry Moran                           

Senator Barbara Boxer                                    

Senator Dianne Feinstein

Senator Angus S. King, Jr                                           

Senator Joe Donnelly

Senator John Barrasso                                                 

Senator Mark Pryor

Senator John Boozman                                    

Senator Pat Toomey

Senator Dan Coats                                                      

Senator Lamar Alexander

Senator Maria Cantwell                                              

Senator Amy Klobuchar

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand                                          

Senator Mark Kirk

Senator David Vitter                                                  

Senator Al Franken

Senator Heidi Heitkamp                                              

Senator Deb Fischer

Senator Edward J. Markey                                          

Senator Jeanne Shaheen

Senator John Walsh                                                     

Senator Lisa Murkowski

Senator Tim Kaine                                                      

Senator Mark R. Warner

Senator Mark Udall                                                    

Senator Mike Johanns

Senator Patty Murray                                                 

Senator Rob Portman  

Senator Ron Johnson                                                   

Senator Tammy Baldwin

Senator Marco Rubio                                                  

Senator Tim Johnson

Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.                                        

Senator Jeffrey A. Merkley

Senator Joe Manchin                                                   

Senator Carl Levin      

Representative Karen Bass                                          

Representative Tom Latham

Representative Ed Royce                                             

Representative Chris Smith

Representative Roger Williams                                   

Representative Jim Renacci     

Representative André Carson                          

Representative Reid Ribble

Representative Andy Barr                                           

Representative Patrick T. McHenry

Representative Sam Farr                                             

Representative Mike Pompeo

Representative Adam Smith                                        

Representative Aaron Schock

Representative Ann Wagner                                       

Representative John Larson

Representative Tim Huelskamp                                   

Representative Jim McDermott

Representative Bobby L. Rush                         

Representative Steve Womack

Representative Steve Daines                                       

Representative Michael McCaul

Representative Joyce Beatty                                        

Representative John Kline

Representative Bradley Byrne                         

Representative Chellie Pingree

Representative Don Young                 

Representative Corrine Brown

Representative Stephen Fincher                                   

Representative Bruce Braley

Representative Mike Simpson                         

Representative Alcee L. Hastings

Representative Cynthia M. Lummis                            

Representative Spencer Bachus

Representative Filemon Vela                                       

Representative George Holding

Representative Frank R. Wolf                          

Representative Jim Cooper

Representative John F. Tierney                        

Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer     

Representative Bill Flores                                            

Representative Bill Huizenga

Representative Charles Rangel                        

Representative Dave Camp

Representative Earl Blumenauer                                 

Representative John C. Fleming M.D.

Representative John Shimkus                                      

Representative Kenny Marchant

Representative Lloyd Doggett                         

Representative G. K. Butterfield

Representative Marc Veasey                                       

Representative Marlin Stutzman

Representative Mike Honda                                        

Representative Gene Green     

Representative Pat Tiberi                                            

Representative Pete Sessions

Representative Stephen F. Lynch                                 

Representative Howard Coble

Representative Steve King                                           

Representative Susan W. Brooks

Representative Suzan DelBene                        

Representative Suzanne Bonamici

Representative Blake Farenthold                                 

Representative Ann McLane Kuster

Representative Chuck Fleischmann                             

Representative Mark Meadows

Representative Diane Black                                         

Representative Doug Lamborn

Representative James Lankford                        

Representative Tim Griffin

Representative James P. McGovern                             

Representative Tom Cotton     

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee                                 

Representative Scott Rigell

Representative Ted Poe                                    

Representative Adam B. Schiff

Representative Jeff Fortenberry                                   

Representative Jim Costa

Representative John Garamendi                                  

Representative Kevin Cramer

Representative Kristi Noem                                        

Representative Mark Pocan

Representative Marsha Blackburn                              

Representative Michael Burgess

Representative Mike Conaway                                    

Representative Mike Fitzpatrick

Representative Mike Rogers – AL                                

Representative Niki Tsongas

Representative Rick Nolan                                          

Representative Sanford D. Bishop, Jr

Representative Scott Perry                                         

Representative Sean Duffy

Representative Steve Stivers                           

Representative Susan A. Davis

Representative Ted S. Yoho                                         

Representative Terri Sewell

Representative Tom McClintock                                  

Representative Frederica Wilson

Representative Wm. Lacy Clay                                  

Representative John Yarmuth

Representative William R. Keating                              

Representative Kevin Brady

Representative Steve Stockman                                   

Representative Julia Brownley

Representative Vicky Hartzler                        

Representative Michael H. Michaud

Representative Beto O’Rourke