the crisis timeline

of the congo


The number of Congolese orphan children being adopted by American families increased dramatically over a three year period, from 41 in 2010 to 240 in 2012, representing a six-fold increase. In 2011 and 2012, ten percent of all orphan petitions for DRC adoptions were identified as problematic and only two percent of the total caseload of adoptions in DRC by Americans were denied for any reason.

2013 Feb.

Department of State announced that all orphan petition cases were subject to a mandatory field investigation which would delay the issuance of a visa and homecoming for the adopted child by 3-6 months.

2013 Apr.

Amidst the confusion following the February 2013 Adoption Notice, Department of State issued a follow-up Adoption Notice “to clarify the recent procedural changes in processing adoption related immigrant visas and their impact on pending and future adoptions from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).”

2013 May 2

The First Suspension: Department of State issued an Adoption Alert announcing that the Congolese Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration (DGM) had...

2013 Sept.

The Second Suspension: DGM announced another suspension on the issuance of exit letters for adopted children, making it impossible for any Congolese children to leave with their adoptive families. According to the September 27, 2013 Adoption Alert by the Department of State, “The DGM reports the suspension will last up to 12 months. This suspension is due to concerns over reports that children adopted from the Democratic Republic of the Congo may be either abused by adoptive families or adopted by a second set of parents once in their receiving countries” (emphasis added).

Presumably, this concern arose from a series of reports issued by Reuters that tell horrifying stories of adopted children being abused by their adoptive parents, and in some cases, given to strangers in a practice called re-homing.[footnote] Importantly, the DGM committed to processing exit letters for all American families who had obtained a US visa for the adopted child prior to September 25, 2013. This group of cases became known as the “grandfathered cases.”

2013 July

Department of State issued a follow-up Adoption Notice regarding the court process for lawful adoptions to clarify the parameters of the DGM’s partial lifting of the suspension.

2013 June

DGM partially lifted the suspension on the issuance of exit letters and resumed processing files, and Department of State announced this news ten days later.

2013 May 14

Department of State hosted a conference call to discuss the status of adoptions in DRC with affected American families and adoption service providers.

In Process Adoption Cases as of May 16, 2014
  • 368 American families are eligible for exit letters having completed adoptions from DRC, with approximately half of these families also having passports and US visas for their children.

  • 420 additional American families are in the process of adopting children from DRC

2014 July 3-5

Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Biden, traveled to DRC and requested exit permits be issued.

2014 Mar. 21

Department of State hosted a conference call to provide an update on the status of the DRC adoption program. In this call, it became clear that Department of State was doing very little to resolve the pending cases.

2014 Apr. 2

BEB created and posted a petition to Congress calling for Congressional involvement to solve the DRC adoption crisis.

2014 Apr. 16

Department of State hosted DRC adoption update conference call. No progress, but the pipeline was, for the first time, sized.

2014 Apr. 29 - May 5

Secretary Kerry made a trip to Africa, including a scheduled stop in DRC. His published agenda made no mention of the adoption crisis

2014 June 9

Department of State, for the first time, announced that it would pursue an exemption to the suspension of exit letters for medically fragile children who face life...

2014 June 24-25

BEB brings 56 American families to Washington, DC for meetings with nearly 100 Members of Congress seek greater congressional engagement in finding a solution to the adoption crisis impacting over 750 American families.

2014 July 8

House of Representatives passes Resolution calling on DRC to end the suspension of exit permits.

2014 Mar. 31

BEB put out a public call for DRC adoptive families to join an advocacy campaign to resolve the adoption crisis via an email blast and Facebook posts.

2014 Apr. 15

One hundred and seventy one Members of Congress sent a letter to the Prime Minister and President of DRC calling for a resolution of the adoption crisis

2014 Apr. 26

DRC announced that it would issue 15 exit letters to children adopted by American families. Department of State shared this information the following day with families.

2014 June 6

DGM announced that it will consider granting exit letters to the “grandfathered cases” provided the cases are presented by the Department of State with all necessary supporting paperwork to demonstrate eligibility.

2014 June 11

Department of State hosted a DRC adoption update conference call. In this call, Department of State explained the process for nullifying Congolese adoptions to the American families...

2014 July 16

Kelly Dempsey testifies to House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa regarding the Department of State’s bias against DRC adoptions and its poor performance in responding to the DRC crisis.


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