US parents stuck in DRC with adopted kids

2014-01-10 07:42

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Child Abuse
    Provides readers with a wealth of information on topics of current interest. Now R526.95
    buy now

New York - Justin Carroll is the proud dad of a 6-week-old daughter in Tennessee, but thus far he's done his doting via Facetime video phone calls from Africa. Since mid-November, Carroll has been living in the Democratic Republic of Congo, unwilling to leave until he gets exit papers allowing two newly adopted sons to travel with him.

Carroll and his wife, Alana, are among scores of US couples caught up in wrenching uncertainty, as a suspension of all foreign adoptions imposed by Congolese authorities has temporarily derailed their efforts to adopt.

While most of the families are awaiting a resolution from their homes in the US, Justin Carroll and a few other parents whose adoptions had been approved have actually taken custody of their adopted children in Kinshasa, DRC's capital.

However, they say that promised exit papers for the children are now being withheld pending further case-by-case reviews, and the parents don't want to leave Kinshasa without them.

"Justin is not going to leave the boys," Alana Carroll said from the family's home in Tennessee, where she's been caring for biological daughter Carson since her birth on 25 November. Justin Carroll was not present for Carson's birth; he left for Africa almost a week earlier.

"In a dire situation, we would just move there," said Alana, referring to DRC. "Leaving our sons there is not an option."

According to Unicef estimates, DRC- long plagued by poverty and conflict - is home to more than 800 000 children who've lost both parents, in many cases because of Aids.

Until the suspension was announced in September, DRC had been viewed by adoption advocates in the US as a promising option at a time when the overall number of international adoptions has been plummeting. DRC accounted for the sixth highest number of adoptions by Americans in 2012 - 240 children, up from 41 in 2010 and 133 in 2011.

There are varied explanations for the suspension - explanations which reflect how international adoption has become a highly divisive topic.

Children sold

The US State Department, in its latest DRC advisory, says all applications for exit permits for adopted children are facing increased scrutiny because of concerns over suspected falsification of documents. Congolese authorities earlier attributed the suspension to concerns that some children had been abused or abandoned by their adoptive parents or have been "sold to homosexuals".

"The government wants to get a handle on this matter, because there is a lot of criminality around it," Interior Minister Richard Muyej Mangez told The Associated Press last month.

The State Department has said it is trying to get accurate information with the hope of enabling some of the families - such as the Carrolls - to take home children whose adoptions had been approved prior to the 25 Sept suspension. However, it has warned waiting parents that there could be significant delays.

American diplomats in Kinshasa have met with the waiting families and with Congolese officials to discuss the suspension, but Alana Carroll said the families wished the US Embassy staff would press harder to get the cases moving.

"The ambassador said they didn't want to ruffle any feathers," Carroll said.

The Carrolls and four other families have dubbed themselves the "Stuck In Congo Five" and created a Facebook page to draw attention to their plight. Alana and two of the other mothers also have been communicating through their blogs.

One of them, Erin Wallace has been in DRC since October, awaiting exit papers that would enable her to bring newly adopted daughter Lainey home to her husband and their two other children.

She has urged readers of her blog to contact their congressional delegations on behalf of the five families.

"We are desperate to return home with our children," she wrote. "We have been stuck for too long."

Craziness

Katie Harshman, another of the bloggers, also has been in Kinshasa since October. Her husband, Eric, a groundskeeper with the University of Kentucky athletics department, joined her for the first seven weeks before returning to work.

"There is no reason why we should still be here," Katie Harshman wrote in a recent post. "We have gotten caught in the middle of some kind of craziness."

The Harshmans, Wallaces and Carrolls have been working with Africa Adoption Services, an agency founded by Danielle Anderson, a former consular staffer at the US Embassy in Kinshasa.

The spouses who are waiting in Kinshasa, along with their adopted children, are staying together in a guest house. Anderson has advised the Americans to be cautious about venturing out with the children, saying many Congolese people are suspicious about international adoptions.

Anderson said it's difficult to pinpoint why authorities there suspended adoptions.

"It's financial, it's political, it's because of severe homophobia," she said. "But in the end, kids are getting stuck and families are not being united."

In the past two years, Africa Adoption Services has helped dozens of families complete adoptions from DRC, generally for a cost of about $27 000, excluding travel.

Broken heart

Among the successful couples were Emily and Mike Mauntel, whose 2-year-old son, Moses, came home in October. The couple also have a 4-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter.

"My heart is breaking for these five families stuck in the Congo and for the many more families waiting to bring their children home," Emily Mauntel wrote in an email. "I was in the Congo for almost four months trying to bring our son home and it was by far the most difficult time in my life."

Among the US agencies active in DRC is MLJ Adoptions, founded by Indianapolis attorney Michele Jackson, who has two sons adopted from the Congo.

Even before the suspension, Jackson said, the international adoption process in DRC could be slow, with US authorities often taking six months or more to verify that children were not part of any trafficking or baby-selling scheme. In at least recent three cases, Jackson said, children died of disease during the vetting process.

Alana Carroll said one of her two new sons, Canaan, was sickly and introverted when her husband began caring for him, and is now thriving. But the long separation has taken an emotional toll.

"It was like a dream come true and now it's like nightmare I can't wake up from," she said.

- AP

Read more on:    drc  |  us  |  child abuse  |  central africa
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
11 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Land reform process lawful - Zuma

The land reform process is being done according to the law and the Constitution, says President Jacob Zuma.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

11 Julius Malema quotes you'll never forget
DA won't get 30% - Zille
The EFF's ad was banned, see why
Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Century City - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Ratanga Road Southbound
    ROADWORKS - lane closure between Ocean Spirit Avenue and Century Boulevard (until mid April)
  • Tuesday Mitchells Plain - 05:58 AM
    Road name: Spine Road
    ROAD CLOSED between Weltevreden Drive and Seafarer Drive due to roadworks (until mid April)
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get 50% off selected books!

Buy 2 books and get 50% off the second book. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mother’s Day special offers!

Spoil mom with these awesome specials that will warm her heart. Shop now!

Twisp – the smoking alternative

Buy any 2 refills for R250 and save R149. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Mother’s Day specials on appliances

Browse our range of Mother’s Day appliances to spoil and pamper mom. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia Lumia 800

The stunningly social Nokia Lumia 800 features head-turning design, ...

From R2395.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be more sensitive today and can be influenced easily by the energies around you. Try not to be swayed too much by the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.