Friday, May 3, 2013

Why I am sharing DRC adoption law (thoughts about DGM and DRC laws)..

There are some important reasons I felt compelled to get the Family Code of DRC translated from French.  (It's still in process, I have part 4 and then the supplemental update to post about).   I wanted to know what the laws were in the country I adopted from and the country I work in now.  I felt like it was also important enough that others needed to know what the laws were as well.  There can be a lot of misinformation and rumors when it comes to DRC law and often going directly to the source is instrumental in learning the truth.  When we adopt we have to follow the laws and requirements of three separate authorities:  1) The foreign country in which the child resides (which are the adoption laws which I have been doing posts about); 2)U.S. federal immigration law; 3) your states of residence (source).

Whether or not we agree with the laws of any of those three governmental authorities, we must abide by them.  There are DRC adoption laws that I don't understand (see the previous three posts in this series), but I still must abide by them.  It means that at any time if we are found to have broken the DRC law then we could face the possibility of not bringing our child home.  So, if your agency or organization tells you that the DRC law has been "waived" or it isn't important, you must consider that in the end your agency or organization isn't the one that issues your U.S. visa and your agency or organization is not the one who gives you your DGM exit letter.  We have a responsibility to know and respect the laws of the country from which we adopt.

There are documents that you are given in your adoption that validate your adoption.  Obviously, your adoption decree shows a judge has declared you the legal parents of the child (in DRC).  This is an important and powerful document.  I distinctly remember the day it was given to us, we brought our girls home (because we were living in DRC at the time, we could move them into our home when we had the written decree in our hands).  But then we were stuck in DRC!  We were their parents in DRC, but we couldn't cross the border with them.  For one year we waited on our U.S. visas and the permission to exit from DRC.

Once we had our U.S. visas we then had to get permission to leave the country from the immigration of DRC (from DGM in Kinshasa, western DRC).  They had to investigate our case and decide whether or not we had legally adopted the children and whether we were breaking any laws in doing so.  We were not allowed across that border without their permission.  We waited and waited.  I've talked on here before how until very recently, it was common to pay DGM bribes.   Even the embassy posted it on their website that it was common to pay DGM.  No one said anything about the fact that every cent paid to DGM was a bribe, because there was no fee for the letter/permission!  Now, the embassy has finally made a specific point to say it is free, and paying them anything is a bribe.

Once DGM (DRC immigration in Kinshasa) has decided that your adoption is legit, you didn't traffic a child, you didn't illegally adopt them, and you aren't breaking DRC adoption law, you are given a letter from DGM giving you permission to exit the country.  This is an essential document and you can't legally leave the country without it.  When you look over your pile of documents, the most important documents that you will have is your adoption decree, your child's U.S. visa to immigrate to the U.S. and the DGM exit letter.  Look for those three documents.  You should have all three documents.  If you don't, then you need to question if your adoption abided by the laws of DRC and the U.S.

I am sharing the DRC adoption law because I believe we need to be people who pursue the truth and act justly.  And how can we do that if we don't even know what the truth is when it comes to our adoptions.  We, as adoptive parents, are the ones that must ensure we are not breaking DRC law and U.S. law when we are adopting from DRC.  We need to know that the child we are adopting is an orphan (investigations).  We need to know how our money is being used (don't accept lump sums requests from your agency that say "foreign fees" and don't pay child finder fees).   We need to closely examine orphanage donations (we shouldn't be giving directly to the same people who are processing our adoptions that are also caring for our adoptive child).  And we need to make sure we are abiding by DRC adoption law (know the law).

Don't bribe DGM.  The letter is free.  If you pay money not only are you breaking DRC law you are breaking international law by giving a bribe (source).

Make sure you get your exit letter from DGM and you see it!  Have it scanned to you if you are using escorts.  Make sure if you are on the ground you hold it in your hand.  This is an extremely important document, just as important as the adoption decree and the U.S. visa.

There are children that desperately need homes in DRC.  Let's make sure we are abiding by the laws of DRC and the U.S. so that those children that truly need homes can come home to families.


The day we received our adoption decree and brought the girls home to our house in DRC, July 2010.











  

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