Congo drafts new adoption legislation, reviews pending cases

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KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo has drafted new adoption legislation and reviewed cases pending since it halted international adoptions in 2013, the government said Tuesday.

Among the recommendations in the legislation, international adoptions will only be allowed if solutions in Congo are lacking, both in the family and public, said government spokesman Lambert Mende. The new law also states that those seeking to adopt must present themselves before a tribunal in Congo and adoptions will only be considered from countries with good diplomatic relations with Congo, he said.

The law obliges the government "to fight against human trafficking as well as other risks to which children may be exposed when taken from their natural environment for permanent care in another country," said Mende.

Authorities in Congo put a halt to international adoptions in 2013, saying their adoption system was beset by corruption and falsified documents. The adoptions had been legally approved by the Congolese courts but then the government suspended the issuing of exit permits, causing heartache and frustration for families around the world.

In November, Congolese authorities approved exit permits for about 72 children — 14 for children adopted by Americans and about 58 for children adopted by Canadian and European families. But more than 1,000 children whose adoptions had been approved remain in Congolese orphanages and foster homes pending the completion of the new adoption law.

The Congo embassy in Washington says the draft law will be voted on in March.

"The government has completed its review of all international adoption applications that have been pending since the establishment of a moratorium in 2013," Francois Balumuene, Congo's ambassador to the United States, said in a statement. "Adoptive parents will be informed of decisions made on these cases by their respective embassies soon."

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