Italians stuck in Congo amid adoption setback

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The Italian couples have been stranded in Kinshasa, the capital of the Congo, for over a month. Photo: Vberger/Wikicommons
11:01 CET+01:00
Twenty-four couples from the southern Italian region of Puglia, who between them have adopted 32 children from the Democratic Republic of Congo, are stranded in the African nation after authorities suspended the issuance of exit permits for children adopted by foreign parents.

The couples arrived in the capital city of Kinshasa on November 5th, but have been unable to leave due to the new loophole, which was imposed in September amid fears the children would be re-adopted after leaving the country, Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno reported. The visa ban has been put in place for a year.

Attempts by Italy’s integration minister, Cecile Kyenge, who is from the Congo, to unlock the bureaucratic process have so far been unsuccessful, but she is reported to be monitoring the situation.

The couples travelled to Kinshasa to bring their adopted children home after a lengthy procedure which involved numerous paperwork and obtaining permission from the International Adoption Committee.

“The adoption documents have already been authorized, by both the Congolese and the Italian authorities,” Maria Gorini, who adopted a Congolese girl with her husband Matteo, told Il Fatto Quotidiano.

“The little girl is, to all intents and purposes, already our daughter. The setback only concerns a signature that will allow us to go back home.”

The families are staying in a facility close to the Italian embassy where they feel like 'hostages', as they wait for the matter to be resolved, Gorini added.

“We’re stuck in the facility, with only the dads leaving in small groups to go to the market for food, to avoid soldiers and checkpoints. In a fortnight, we’ll run out of money and we don’t know what we have to do to get more."

The couples have written to Kyenge and to the International Adoption Committee but are yet to receive a response.

“The only contact we’ve had is with Pio Mariani, the Italian ambassador in Kinshasa ... In a sense, we feel abandoned,” Goini said.

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The number of children adopted from Africa by foreigners rose by 400 percent between 2004 and 2012 , with almost 41,000 children being adopted during the eight years, according to a report last year by African Child Policy Forum. 

The most popular countries are Nigeria, the Congo, South Africa, Mali, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Uganda, and Burkina Faso.

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