The Hope for DRC Adoptions campaign was started by MLJ Adoptions and several adoptive parents as a way that individuals, attorneys, adoption agencies, adoptive parents and orphan advocates could collaborate, communicate and come together for one cause – to strengthen and stabilize the adoption process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The focus of the group has been to create an adoption process that is ethical and stable.
This can be done through several of the following means:
- Collaboration of all licensed adoption agencies approved to complete international adoptions per Hague Convention or Universal Accreditation Act;
- Collaboration of all Foreign Service Providers (foreign attorneys);
- Communication with U.S. State Department and U.S. Embassy Kinshasa;
- Communication with U.S. government officials, JCICS and NCFA regarding DRC adoptions;
- Education to all parties involved regarding ethical, efficient and best interest of the child practices in international adoption; and
- Potentially the future advocacy of a Central Authority in DRC.
The following has begun since the beginning of the campaign:
- Facebook page activity;
- One teleconference regarding Hope for DRC Adoptions (next TC scheduled for November 4th 1pm EST see FB page for details);
- Several adoption agencies began communicating;
- Letter from U.S. Senators/Representatives to U.S. State Department regarding concerns in DRC adoption process, specifically orphan visas;
- Several trips to DRC to advocate for DRC Adoptions;
- Two visits in-person with U.S. Embassy Kinshasa;
- First-ever meeting of several different DRC entities regarding adoptions (education, collaboration, quality improvement discussed); and
- First-ever meeting of all DRC FSPs (foreign service providers/foreign attorneys) to collaborate on the issues they face in DRC and solutions to those issues.
- JCICS designated an adoption Caucus for DRC and I was appointed chair for the caucus;
- NCFA and JCICS began communication with several licensed agencies regarding the issues in DRC; and
- Plans for future meetings to continue the collaboration.
It is important to know that MLJ Adoption’s position is consistent with the Hague Convention, Universal Accreditation Act, NCFA and JCICS, in that only approved and licensed agencies are permitted to provide adoption services. This has been a source of tension not only in DRC Adoptions but in all international adoptions. I will be the first to indicate that adoption problems happen in all types of adoptions – agency and independent; however, U.S. government has spoken and one of the ways to improve international adoptions is to only permit licensed/approved entities to provide international adoption services. While we want all adoption advocates to support a stabilization of DRC adoptions, we understand that not all advocates may agree with this position. Hope for DRC Adoptions may have various individuals, agencies, and organizations with varied opinions; however, a focus on collaboration and communication is vital.
Photo Credit: EU Humanitarian Aid