I once wrote a post saying there were three essential documents you must see with your own eyes and have in your possession to know you had an ethical adoption in DRC. Of course, they are all important, but these three are the most important. And of course, possessing these documents is not the only way to assure you had an ethical adoption in DRC, but it is one of the many ways.
One, you must have an adoption decree (or judgement). Without that you have not adopted a child. You should receive a copy of this judgement from your agency or organization and eventually you should be given the original copy.
Two, your child must have a visa from the U.S. embassy in their Congolese passport. If they don't have one, they will not be able to legally leave DRC to immigrate to the U.S. Remember, that even if you are their legal parent in DRC the child is still a Congolese citizen and will not be a U.S. citizen until they come to the U.S. As a Congolese citizen they need permission from the immigration of their country to leave the country as an adopted child of a foreigner (on a U.S. visa, in our case). Which brings us to point number three.
Three, you must have a DGM exit letter that states you were given permission to leave DRC with your adopted Congolese child. (Notice I said Congolese child. Because your child is still a Congolese citizen.) This is a piece of paper signed by the director of DGM (Congolese immigration). There is no fee for this letter. And as you all know, issuance of this letter is currently suspended in DRC. Do you have a copy of your letter? You should. Otherwise you will not know if you legally exited DRC. Or if you used an escort, you will not know that your Congolese child legally exited DRC. These are official paper documents (not electronic documents) that were being issued as early as 2010 (stamped by the office of DGM). I had mine in my possession from the middle of 2011 because we had to show the original paper document at all border crossings in DRC (and every country we passed through on our way to the U.S.). I have friends that have theirs from the end of 2010.
If you don't have it in your records (go look), ask your agency or organization for a copy of it. They will have it in their records for your child. Remember, if your agency is a Hague Accredited agency, then they are required to keep all your documents pertaining to your adoption for 75 years! (source) Various state laws also require detailed record keeping (source). No one wants to be accused of smuggling their Congolese child out of DRC. It's very important to have that document in your records and hold on to it.
Maybe you are reading this and you don't have the DGM exit letter in your possession. Maybe you ask your agency and they do not have the letter. Maybe you feel concerned that your child didn't legally exit DRC. Your adoption is still valid in the U.S. when you child processes through immigration in the U.S., but it does mean that your child illegally exited the country (even if it was completely unknowingly to you) and you should hold your agency accountable. You should demand answers as to why you do not have the exit letter. It is important we all abide by the laws in DRC. Sometimes we aren't even aware of when we aren't abiding by those laws. That is why asking hard questions to your agencies and organizations are very important.
Shutdowns and suspensions will only continue to happen unless we hold our agencies accountable for their actions on the ground. Not abiding by the DRC laws and processes are why the country will close to adoption. Hold your agency and organizations accountable for their actions. Ask hard questions. Take a stand for the children of DRC.