Lawmakers push for expedited Congolese adoptions

House and Senate lawmakers pressed the Congolese government to speed up processing American adoptions.

In a Thursday letter to Democratic Republic of the Congo President Joseph Kabila Kabange and Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo, 171 members of Congress requested the government expedite the adoption process for Congolese children with health risks. They also asked the Congolese government to issue exit permits for adoptions approved before Sept. 25, 2013.

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“While we work together to ensure that all Congolese children are protected, we hope you will consider allowing the hundreds of American families who have legally completed the adoption process to move forward," they wrote.

The lawmakers also said that the delays had caused distress for children awaiting to be permitted to leave the Congo.

"The unexpected delay in the completion of these adoptions has resulted in over 460 children continuing to languish in institutions without the care of a permanent family," the lawmakers added.

They further noted that many of the American families adopting Congolese children had to wait in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republican of the Congo, for their applications to be approved. Those people subsequently had encountered financial and career costs.

The letter was spearheaded by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) as well as Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and Karen Bass (D-Calif.) are the coalition's co-chairmen.

The Congolese government had suspended issuing exit permit letters due to recent concerns about fraud and corruption in the adoption process.