News Releases

Families who adopted children in the DRC unable to obtain exit letters to bring them home
MURRAY: This is a simple way to ease the burden on families who are already under incredible stress trying to bring their child home.

(Washington, D.C.)— After passing through both the Senate and the House, a bill cosponsored by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is now headed to President Obama to be signed into law. The Adoptive Family Relief Act would waive U.S. visa renewal fees for families who are waiting to bring home children adopted from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC stopped issuing exit visas for internationally adopted children two years ago, resulting in hundreds of American families, a number of them in Washington state, being unable to bring home their adopted children. In that time, families have had to continually pay to renew their child’s visa while they wait for the suspension to be lifted.


“While we work to address the larger issue of why the DRC has halted the adoption process, this is a simple way to ease the burden on American families who are already under incredible stress trying to bring their child home,” said Senator Murray. “I am a proud supporter of this legislation and am so glad to see it will be signed into law, especially because it will directly help a number of families in Washington state. I will continue to do my part to push for resolution of this unacceptable ban on adoptions from the DRC. These families and children should not have to wait another day.”


“Our family is so grateful for the support of Sen. Murray and the rest of our representatives in Congress for their work on the Adoptive Families Relief Act. It's very timely for us, in fact, because our daughter's US Orphan Visa just recently expired and her visa renewal appointment is set for next week. The emotional and financial burden of caring for your child from 6,000 miles away is beyond measure. We, along with hundreds of committed families, have been doing this for two years too long. This piece of legislation is a bright spot, a true relief, during this tough wait. And yet there is still no definitive end in sight to the exit permit suspension, so we ask government leaders to continue to fight for our cause, and continually press the issue with DRC officials to unite our families once and for all,” said Melissa Cudworth of Snoqualmie, a mother struggling with bringing her adopted child home because of the DRC’s suspension on exit letters.


Though the State Department is still working with the Congolese government to resolve the suspension of exit visas, Congress worked to pass bipartisan legislation to provide financial relief to adoptive families who have been burdened by the visa renewal fees. On July 13th, the Senate passed the Adoptive Family Relief Act to provide the State Department authority to waive the visa renewal fee in this and other extraordinary adoption circumstances; the House passed the bill October 6th. The bill is now headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law.