Lawmakers address halted Congolese adoptions, Hoosier families wait

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FISHERS – It’s a painful state of limbo for families across the country and right here in central Indiana. They’re waiting on their adoptive children from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to come home.

The DRC stopped issuing exit permits last September. That means adoptions already completed are on hold, and as you’d imagine parents are heartbroken.

Thursday, U.S. representatives and senators sent a letter to the president and prime minister of the DRC. They’re hoping to open the adoption process back up, get the exit permits issued and provide some peace for families still waiting.

“We feel that he’s missing,” said mom A.J. Hibbert of Fishers.

Sitting in her son Isaac’s room, mother Hibbert knows one piece of her family isn’t here.

“Every morning, I come to this room, every night I come to this room,” she said.

Her son Issac is 2 years old, and he’s still in the DRC.

“He’s here physically and emotionally, it’s just physically that we’re having trouble getting him here. That’s the big thing about the adoption that’s hard,” she said.

Hibbert’s been waiting almost a year, along with her husband and her daughter. Isaac has a Visa and the family’s last name, but he isn’t home.

What makes it so tough Hibbert said, are the reminders of how long it’s been. Toys remain untouched and clothes have tags. It’s a sign time is passing quickly.

“They now have dust on them, because I can’t bring myself to dust them because you shouldn’t be dusting toys,” she said. “A mom is supposed to take care of her children. I’m his mom and I can’t do that right now.”

But Thursday she remained hopeful as U.S. representatives and senators put pen to paper. Though their letter is just a document, Hibbert said it’s a step to getting her family together one day.

“It’s so much more than a piece of paper. It’s a complete glimmer of hope, and it’s something that says people believe in us. It helps me to know he will be home soon,” she said.

Officials from the DRC were supposed to come to the United States to hold diplomatic talks on the issue of the held-up adoptions. But this week, the Congolese government postponed the trip with the U.S. Department of State. An alternate date hasn’t been set.

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly’s office said they’ve heard from six Hoosier families waiting on children being held in the DRC.