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KINSHASA, Congo (AP) - The Congolese government has suspended international adoptions of Congolese children, following allegations that some were abandoned by their adoptive parents, while others were "sold to homosexuals." The move by Congo further restricts foreign adoptions, following similar decisions by Russia and China.
Minister of the Interior Richard Muyej Mangez told The Associated Press late Thursday that he had summoned the ambassadors from Western countries in order to inform them of the government's decision. He stressed that right now Congo is temporarily suspending adoptions, as it waits to conduct an investigation. "The government has decided to suspend _ not to ban _ international adoptions of Congolese children. The government wants to get a handle on this matter, because there is a lot of criminality around it."
The decision follows a Sept. 25 report by the country's Department of Migration, which communicated to Western embassies the decision to suspend adoptions following allegations of trafficking. The Department claims that some Congolese children were abandoned by their adoptive parents, and sold "to homosexuals."
Congo joins numerous other countries that have sharply curtailed overseas adoptions, including most recently Russia and China. In America, foreign adoptions have declined every year for the past decade. A State Department report released in January shows that international adoptions by U.S. families dropped by over 60 percent from a high of 22,991 in 2004 down to 8,668 in 2012. Last year, 240 of those children came from Congo.
In a statement, Italy's Foreign Ministry said that it had summoned the ambassador of Congo to express dismay that some two dozen Italian families, who were due to return to Italy with their newly adopted children, were thwarted from leaving with them due to the unexpected suspension of foreign adoptions.
Italian state TV spoke by telephone with an Italian woman who is an adoptive mother of one of the children. She said that 26 Italian families, with a total of 32 adopted children, are in limbo. The adoptions have been approved and now the Italians are legally their parents according to Congolese law, the Foreign Ministry said. But because the country decided to suspend adoptions, it won't let the children leave for Italy. And the parents' visas are soon expiring.
In Kinshasa, the Italian ambassador, along with the ambassadors of the United States, France, Canada, Belgium and Britain, were summoned to the interior ministry to hear Mangez reiterate that the Congolese authorities were determined to suspend adoption procedures.
According to statistics from the Congolese Department of Migration, a total 1,006 Congolese children were adopted by parents from 15 foreign countries between 2009 and 2013.
Associated Press writer Frances D'Emilio in Rome and Rukmini Callimachi in Dakar, Senegal, contributed to this report.