Respecting the Rules.

Okay friends…I’m blogging about some heavy stuff tonight. And I hope you will understand that it comes from someone who loves adoption and doesn’t want to point fingers or lay blame.

Here’s the deal: I was not at all surprised when the DGM in Congo announced the suspension of exit letters for up to twelve months. I was unbelievably saddened — especially for the sister whose side I have been next to for the entire process and have witnessed endure one delay after another. But I was not surprised.

I have seen this coming for awhile. Through DRC boards and adoption groups I have learned of lots of shady things that have happened in Congo through corrupt agencies. Agencies that require $3,000 worth of fees to the DGM in order to leave the country. Agencies who were having children escorted home without exit letters.

While I am so upset by the behavior of these agencies and hope that adoptive families will continue to research agencies before they enter into an adoption to prevent such awful practices from happening, there is something else I have witnessed happening repeatedly. It is something adoptive families are contributing directly to…

We are not respecting Congolese laws.

If you visit the Department of State’s website about intercountry adoption, you will notice that there is a section entitled “WHO CAN ADOPT” under each country.

This is what it says under this section for the DRC:

In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo:


  • Residency:  None specified.
  • Age of Adopting Parents:  Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than the intended adoptee and at least 18 years old to adopt a Congolese child.  There is no age limit for adopting parents.
  • Marriage:  Adopting parents may be married, single, widowed, or divorced.  Single, unmarried prospective adoptive parents may not adopt a child of the opposite sex unless the court grants an exemption.  Couples must be married for at least five years before seeking to adopt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Congolese law prohibits gays, lesbians, and same-sex couples from adopting from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Income:  Proof of employment and/or sufficient funds may be required.
  • Other:  Any person who has a prior history of child abuse is not permitted to adopt a Congolese child.  No couple may adopt more than three children unless a subsequent prospective adoptee is the biological child of one of the parents.  Prospective adoptive parents may not already have more than two children when they adopt unless the child they are adopting is a sibling of one of their children.  No adoptive parent may marry their adopted child.  There are no specified medical ineligibilities for prospective adoptive parents.

Since our process has begun, I’ve watched families who don’t meet these requirements adopt from Congo, and I know of many who are currently in process that do not meet these requirements. While I am overjoyed when families adopt — and especially from a country as dear to my heart as DRC — it saddens me that so many families are not taking into account the importance of respecting a country’s laws.

This has been a discussion on a few threads in a couple of the adoption Facebook groups I belong to. One person made the argument that God calls us to adopt, so we have to see it through.

I understand your heart, sister, I really do….


God called us to obey the government. He is not Machiavelli. The end doesn’t justify the means.

Romans 13: 

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. 4 For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. 6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

I worry that when we go around these laws or ignore them — we give the impression that WE know what is best for the Congolese children — that the AMERICAN government is the only government that matters.

I worry that when agencies make promises such as, “We can get around that rule”, then they are thinking more about the money and not about the country that they are working with and the beautiful culture that the country holds dear.

We don’t owe this country taxes, but we owe it respect and honor. They are giving us their children. How can we raise children from this country if we don’t value their authorities?

Here’s the other thing — when we show disregard for a country’s rules, we ruin it for other families who ARE obeying the rules. This kind of disregard can shut countries down.

This kind of disregard can do things like shut down DGM temporarily and slow down the process…not just for you and your child, but for everyone and their children, too.

I realize there is a lot at play that has led to the DGM closing in DRC and it wasn’t just ONE thing. I’m so sorry if this post is making you angry. I don’t want it to.

What I want to do is to make you think.

I want you to enter into your adoption in a way that shows love and respect for the authorities — and not just the American ones, but the ones who are currently governing a child you one day hope to call your own.

I want your adoption to be a witness of God’s Word. 

For family’s who are interested, you can download a translation of the DRC’s Family Code below (there is a supplementary page from May 2009 that I wasn’t able to add).




  1. […] reminded readers about the importance of respecting countries’ adoption laws and attended a really cool church service in downtown Los […]

  2. […] about life after adoption. Occasionally I even get gutsy and touch on deeper topics like respecting country requirements or dealing with issues of race. More personal blog posts that include lots of pictures of our kids […]

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