Prospective parents looking to adopt children from other countries sometimes face obstacles and challenges. But one African country has essentially shut the door on international adoptions amid reports of abuse. And that’s left hundreds of American families waiting.
In September the Congolese government stopped issuing exit letters for adopted children. That has left two siblings, Kema, 6, and five-year-old Kahilu 6,000 miles away from their adoptive parents. They wait in an orphanage. Laura Burleson and her husband were forced to leave them behind in April, their bitter goodbye was captured on camera.
“They didn’t see us board a plane,” Laura said. “They don’t know that we’re not living there, and just not going to get them. They don’t understand.”
The Congolese government has virtually halted all adoptions amid concerns of child abuse and human trafficking, and according to the U.S. State Department, is currently crafting new adoption laws. These new laws could impact previously approved adoptions.
Currently, more than 350 families wait for word on what will happen to their children. Some gathered in Washington, united under a single voice. They hope lawmakers and the State Department will help convince the Congolese government to lift the ban that’s keeping hundreds of children from going to new homes.