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Cablegate: Congo-Kinshasa International Adoption Information

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINSHASA 001796

SIPDIS

FOR CA/VO/CI K. DOHERTY; CA/OCS/AF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KOCI CVIS CG
SUBJECT: CONGO-KINSHASA INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION INFORMATION

REF: STATE 194945

1. PER REFTEL, POST PROVIDES THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION ON
ADOPTION IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (DRC).
RESPONSES ARE KEYED TO LETTERED QUESTIONS IN PARAGRAPH 6 OF
REFTEL.

A. THE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE IS THE GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY FOR
ADOPTION MATTERS IN CONGO-KINSHASA. WHILE THERE IS NO
SPECIFIC BRANCH WITHIN THE MINISTRY THAT HANDLES THIS
SUBJECT, ALL ADOPTIONS ARE PROCESSED THROUGH COMPETENT
COURTS THAT ARE UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE MINISTRY OF
JUSTICE. THERE IS NO SINGLE PERMANENT PUBLIC CONTACT AT THE
MINISTRY. PROSPECTIVE ADOPTING PARENTS SHOULD CONTACT THE
COURT HAVING JURISDICTION OVER THE PLACE OF RESIDENCE OF THE
ADOPTEE.

B. ADOPTING PARENTS MAY BE MARRIED COUPLES, SINGLE PERSONS,
WIDOWS OR WIDOWERS OR DIVORCEES. SINGLE PESONS, WIDOWS OR
WIDOWERS AND DIVORCEES MAY NOT ADOPT A CHILD OF THE OPPOSITE
SEX UNLESS THE COURT GRANTS AN EXEMPTION. COUPLES SHOULD
HAVE BEEN MARRIED FOR AT LEAST FIVE YEARS AND BE AT LEAST 15
YEARS OLDER THAN THE INTENDED ADOPTEE. THIS "15-YEAR RULE"
MAY BE WAIVED IF THE ADOPTEE IS A NATURAL CHILD OF ONE OF
THE PARENTS. ANY PERSON WHO HAS A PRIOR HISTORY OF CHILD
ABUSE IS NOT PERMITTED TO ADOPT. THERE IS NO AGE LIMIT FOR
ADOPTING PARENTS. NO COUPLE MAY ADOPT MORE THAN THREE
CHILDREN UNLESS A SUBSEQUENT PROSPECTIVE ADOPTEE IS THE
BIOLOGICAL CHILD OF ONE OF THE PARENTS. NO ADOPTIVE PARENT
MAY MARRY THE ADOPTED CHILD. THERE IS NO MEDICAL
INELIGIBILITY GROUNDS FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS.

C. PROSPECTIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS NEED NOT BE PERMANENT OR
LONG-TERM RESIDENTS OF THE DRC.

D. IT CAN TAKE FROM A MINIMUM OF THREE MONTHS TO A MAXIMUM
ONE YEAR TO COMPLETE THE ADOPTION PROCESS FROM CHILD
MATCHING TO VISA ISSUANCE.

E. THERE ARE NO ADOPTION AGENCIES IN DRC. HOWEVER,
ORPHANAGES MUST BE LISENCED OR ACCREDITED BY THE GOVERNMENT.
IT IS CUSTOMARY AND ACCEPTED PRACTICE TO ENGAGE CONGOLESE
LAWYERS TO CARRY OUT ADOPTION PROCEEDINGS. LAWYERS ARE
AUTOMATICALLY ACCREDITED BY THE GOVERNMENT BY VIRTUE OF
THEIR PROFESSIONAL TRAINING.

F. COURTS FEES FOR AN ADOPTION CASE AVEERAGE BETWEEN $100
AND $300. LAWYERS FEES CAN RANGE FROM $1,000 TO $2,500.
FEES CAN BE KEPT TO A MINIMUM IF, PRIOR TO THE FIRST
CONSULATION, ADOPTING PARENTS SECURE ANY REQUIRED DOCUMENTS
SUCH AS BIRTH, DEATH, MARRIAGE AND RELEVENT COURT RECORDS.

G. THERE IS A KEY LEGAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONGOLESE AND
AMERICAN OR OTHER WESTERN ADOPTION. WHILE ADOPTION EXISTS
AND IS LEGAL IN CONGO, THE LAW ALSO PROTECTS THE LINK TO THE
BIOLOGICAL FAMILY. THEREFORE, NO ADOPTION IS EVER CONSIDERED
A COMPLETE SEVERANCE FROM THE BIOLOGICAL FAMILY. THE ROOTS
OF THIS UNIQUE CHARACTER OF THE LAW STEM FROM THE FACT THAT
MOST LOCAL ADOPTIONS RESULT FROM POOR FINANCIAL
CIRCUMSTANCES WITHIN A FAMILY AND NOT NECESSARILY THE TRUE
ORPHAN STATUS OF A CHILD. THIS UNIQUE PROTECTION, HOWEVER,
DOES NOT INTERFERE WITH ADOPTION PROCEDURES NOR DOES IT
RENDER LEGAL ADOPTIONS IN DRC INVALID FOR U.S. VISA
ISSUANCE. THERE ARE NO LAWS PROHIBITING FOREIGN NATIONALS
FROM ADOPTING CONGOLESE CHILDREN. THE ADOPTION PROCESS IN
DRC HAS THREE STEPS:

- STEP ONE: OBTAINING CONSENT.
THE COURT WILL REQUIRE CONSENT TO THE ADOPTION BE SETTLED
BEFORE GRANTING A JUDGMENT. BIOLOGICAL PARENTS, OR OTHER
FAMILY MEMBERS IF ONE OR BOTH PARENTS ARE DECEASED, MUST
GIVE THEIR CONSENT. IF NO FAMILY MEMBERS ARE IDENTIFIED,
THE COURT WILL STEP IN TO DETERMINE CONSENT. ANY CHILD OVER
THE AGE OF 15 MUST GIVE HIS OR HER OWN CONSENT.

- STEP TWO: THE HEARING.
AFTER OBTAINING THE PROPER CONSENT, THE PROSPECTIVE ADOPTING
PARENTS REQUEST A HEARING IN OPEN COURT. ALONG WITH THE
REQUEST FOR HEARING, THE ADOPTING PARENTS MUST SUBMIT COPIES
OF THEIR BIRTH CERTIFICATES AND THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF THE
PROSPECTIVE ADOPTEE. THE COURT WILL REQUIRE PROOF THAT ANY
AND ALL INTERESTED FAMILY MEMBERS HAVE BEEN INFORMED OF THE
ADOPTION AND HAVE RECEIVED NOTICE OF THE COURT HEARING. THE
ADOPTING PARENTS AND PROSPECTIVE ADOPTED CHILD (IF OVER AGE
10) MUST APPEAR PERSONALLY IN COURT BEFORE THE JUDGE. OTHER
INTERESTED PARTIES MAY ATTEND OR SUBMIT DOCUMENTS TO THE
COURT. AFTER THE INITIAL HEARING, THE COURT CONDUCTS AN
INVESTIGATION TO DETERMINE THAT ALL CONDITIONS HAVE BEEN MET
AND THAT ALL DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED ARE LEGITIMATE.

- STEP THREE: THE JUDGEMENT.
ONCE THE INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETED AND ALL REQUIREMENTS
HAVE BEEN SATISFIED, THE COURT WILL ISSUE A JUDGMENT OF
ADOPTION. THE DATE OF THE ADOPTION WILL BE THE DATE OF THE
FIRST COURT APPEARANCE. THE ADOPTED CHILD'S NAME ON THE
JUDGMENT WILL INCORPORATE HIS/HER ORIGINAL NAME ALONG WITH
THE NEWLY ADOPTED FAMILY NAME. A CHILD UNDER AGE 18 WILL
TAKE THE NATIONALITY OF THE ADOPTING PARENTS. INDIVIDUALS
OVER 18 ARE FREE TO CHOOSE WHICH NATIONALITY THEY WILL TAKE.
THE ADOPTING PARENTS MUST REGISTER THE JUDGMENT AT THEIR
LOCAL CITY HALL OR MAGISTRATE WITHIN ONE MONTH OR THE
ADOPTION IS NULL AND VOID.

H. THE ADOPTING PARENTS MUST SUBMIT COPIES OF THEIR OWN
BIRTH CERTIFICATES, THE BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF THE PROSPECTIVE
ADOPTEE, POLICE CERTIFICATES AND ATTESTATIONS OF GOOD
CONDUCT FROM THEIR CITY HALL OR LOCAL EMBASSY OR CONSULATE
IF NOT CONGOLESE.

2. THE DRC PERMITS INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION TO ALL COUNTRIES.
3. CONCLUSION: ADOPTIVE PARENTS APPLYING FOR VISAS FOR
CHILDREN ADOPTED FROM CONGO SHOULD BE SURE TO PRESENT THE
FOLLOWING THREE DOCUMENTS TO THE CONSULAR OFFICER: THE
JUDGMENT OF ADOPTION; CERTIFICATE OF NO APPEAL; AND PROOF
THAT THE ADOPTION JUDGMENT WAS REGISTERED IN THE "COMMUNE"
(CITY HALL) WITH THE JURISDICTION OVER THE CHILD. NOTE:
CERTIFICATES OF "GUARDIANSHIP," OFTEN USED IN CONGO, DO NOT
CONSTITUTE A LEGAL ADOPTION.

MEECE

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