[House Hearing, 113 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
THE GROWING CRISIS OF AFRICA'S ORPHANS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON AFRICA, GLOBAL HEALTH,
GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS, AND
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED THIRTEENTH CONGRESS
JULY 16, 2014
Serial No. 113-198
Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.foreignaffairs.house.gov/
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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
EDWARD R. ROYCE, California, Chairman
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York
ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American
DANA ROHRABACHER, California Samoa
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio BRAD SHERMAN, California
JOE WILSON, South Carolina GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York
MICHAEL T. McCAUL, Texas ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey
TED POE, Texas GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia
MATT SALMON, Arizona THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania BRIAN HIGGINS, New York
JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina KAREN BASS, California
ADAM KINZINGER, Illinois WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts
MO BROOKS, Alabama DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
TOM COTTON, Arkansas ALAN GRAYSON, Florida
PAUL COOK, California JUAN VARGAS, California
GEORGE HOLDING, North Carolina BRADLEY S. SCHNEIDER, Illinois
RANDY K. WEBER SR., Texas JOSEPH P. KENNEDY III,
SCOTT PERRY, Pennsylvania Massachusetts
STEVE STOCKMAN, Texas AMI BERA, California
RON DeSANTIS, Florida ALAN S. LOWENTHAL, California
TREY RADEL, Florida--resigned 1/27/ GRACE MENG, New York
14 LOIS FRANKEL, Florida
DOUG COLLINS, Georgia TULSI GABBARD, Hawaii
MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina JOAQUIN CASTRO, Texas
TED S. YOHO, Florida
LUKE MESSER, Indiana--resigned 5/
SEAN DUFFY, Wisconsins--
CURT CLAWSON, Florida--
Amy Porter, Chief of Staff Thomas Sheehy, Staff Director
Jason Steinbaum, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey, Chairman
TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania KAREN BASS, California
RANDY K. WEBER SR., Texas DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island
STEVE STOCKMAN, Texas AMI BERA, California
MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina
C O N T E N T S
The Honorable Nancy Lindborg, Assistant Administrator, Bureau for
Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, U.S. Agency
for International Development.................................. 4
The Honorable Robert P. Jackson, Principal Deputy Assistant
Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State. 14
Ms. Kelly Dempsey, general counsel and director of advocacy and
outreach, Both Ends Burning.................................... 23
Shimwaayi Muntemba, Ph.D., founder, Zambia Orphans of AIDS....... 33
Mrs. Jovana Jones, adoptive mother of a Congolese child.......... 47
Ms. Muluemebet Chekol Hunegnaw, senior director, Monitoring &
Evaluation and Knowledge Management Program Quality and Impact
Department, International Programs, Save the Children.......... 51
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
The Honorable Nancy Lindborg: Prepared statement................. 8
The Honorable Robert P. Jackson: Prepared statement.............. 17
Ms. Kelly Dempsey: Prepared statement............................ 27
Shimwaayi Muntemba, Ph.D.: Prepared statement.................... 35
Mrs. Jovana Jones: Prepared statement............................ 49
Hearing notice................................................... 66
Hearing minutes.................................................. 67
Ms. Muluemebet Chekol Hunegnaw: Statement for the record......... 68
Ms. Kelly Dempsey: Both Ends Burning report...................... 76
The Honorable Christopher H. Smith, a Representative in Congress
from the State of New Jersey, and chairman, Subcommittee on
Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International
Organizations: Statements for the record from:
Catholic Relief Services....................................... 84
World Vision US................................................ 86
Christian Alliance for Orphans................................. 89
THE GROWING CRISIS OF AFRICA'S ORPHANS
WEDNESDAY, JULY 16, 2014
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health,
Global Human Rights, and International Organizations,
Committee on Foreign Affairs,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:01 p.m., in
room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Christopher H.
Smith (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. Smith. The subcommittee will come to order.
Good afternoon, everyone.
Today's hearing addresses a very important humanitarian
crisis: The more than 50 million children orphaned on the
continent of Africa. Indeed, to put this in perspective, as one
of our witnesses today, Shimwaayi Muntemba, has pointed out,
with such a number, the orphans of Africa, if grouped together
in a single country, would be the fourth-largest country in all
of Africa after Nigeria, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic
of the Congo.
The factors contributing to this crisis are varied,
starting with civil war and civil unrest, which have displaced
millions, wars that have led to the deaths of parents and other
adult relatives, leaving children to fend for themselves, or
sometimes children who are separated from their parents in a
mad flight for sanctuary, never learning if their moms or dads
are alive or dead. They may never know if they are orphaned in
reality or if both parents turn out to have survived and are
alive in a refugee camp somewhere else. Such parents, too,
agonize over what ever happened to their beloved children.
Other children are indirect victims of the HIV/AIDS
pandemic, which has wreaked such devastating havoc on the
continent, or other diseases. They could have lost one or both
parents to this or some other dreaded disease.
Often being forced into the role of primary caretaker of
younger siblings, their childhood innocence is ended by the
burdens of adult responsibility.
As with many of the humanitarian crises that confront the
continent, there is a big-picture aspect to this one and one
which we as Congress certainly need to address. There are
important strategic implications of so many children and
adolescents left without moms or dads.
We have all heard of the scourge of child soldiers, how
orphaned children are recruited and brutalized, themselves,
into becoming remorseless killers. Terrorist groups, such as
the Lord's Resistance Army under the rapacious warlord Joseph
Kony, actively recruit child soldiers. Perhaps our State
Department witness, the Honorable Robert Jackson, with his vast
depth of regional knowledge, may address that in his remarks
And if humanitarian reasons are not enough to compel
Congress to rally behind the efforts to address the issue of
Africa's orphans by USAID and countless other charitable
organizations, many of them faith-based, then strategic
concerns and the effect that this has on the stability
throughout the region should be a reason to sit up and take
notice of this tragedy.
But behind every statistic about an orphaned child or
children, behind the pie charts and graphs, there is also a
portrait in miniature: A lonely child who is left without a
mother or a father, perhaps dealing each night with the pangs
of hunger or just seeking a place where he or she can lay down
his or her head in safety until the morning comes. That child
awakes to forage and to fend for another day.
Behind every statistic, there is a young boy or girl who
has to deal with the sense of abandonment or with the trauma of
having seen parents killed before his or her own eyes; there is
a little soul, a young person, whose inherent dignity has been
scarred in a world itself wounded, where there is so much pain,
suffering, and darkness.
These children are in need of love and compassion, of
simple needs being met. Those who find loving homes and
families are truly the lucky ones. One remedy for this crisis
is inter-country adoption, which sometimes brings children from
Africa to our shores to provide them with loving homes.
This is, of course, only a partial remedy, because for
every child who is given a loving home, there are many more for
whom there will never be such a refuge. At best, they may end
up in an institutional orphanage, which is a topic fraught with
controversy. While the best ones--again, often faith-based--
help address the developmental and education needs of children,
the worst may abet human trafficking.
In some cases, such institutions do not even shelter
orphans per se, but, rather, children are placed there by
parents who think that their children will get a better
education and nutrition than what they themselves can provide.
Clearly, such institutions can never provide the type of love
that a father and a mother, along with any siblings, can
One issue that will be addressed in our second panel today,
then, is the role of inter-country adoption in helping address,
at least in part, the crisis of orphans. Some of the testimony
will be critical of the role of our State Department's Office
of Children's Issues in the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Such
testimony needs to be heard, for we can and we must, all of us,
We will also hear about an adoption issue that has received
a lot of attention on Capitol Hill and was the topic of a
resolution authored by my good friend and colleague, Collin
Peterson of Minnesota, which I am happy to say was passed by
the House of Representatives just a few weeks ago after being
marked up by our subcommittee and then the full Foreign Affairs
Last year, the DRC suspended the issuance of exit permits
for Congolese children adopted by foreign parents, impacting
hundreds of U.S. families. The suspension means that the
Congolese children adopted by American parents simply cannot
leave the country to go to their new homes even though the
parents have been officially declared the legal guardians under
What's more, despite the exit-permit suspension, Congolese
courts have continued processing new adoptions, leading to a
backlog of adopted children who are unable to leave the
country. More than 800 American families are caught up, in
varying degrees, of this adoption limbo, breaking hearts.
This is a deplorable situation for these children and for
their distraught families, as well. Indeed, we will hear about
this from one such family that has been impacted, as well as an
advocate for families that in like manner have been impacted.
Finally, I also want to say a word to those parents here
today who have endured not only burdens that are financial but
ones that are primarily emotional, separated from the children
they have voluntarily and lovingly welcomed into their lives.
Your hardship and pain is deeply noted by my colleagues and
I, as well as our staff members, many of whom have worked not
only on passing Congressman Peterson's resolution but have also
promoted within our State Department and the Government of the
DRC some effective and durable remedies to these situations.
Please continue to persevere. Don't give up hope. Both the
executive branch and the legislative branch are firmly in your
I would like to new yield to Karen Bass, the ranking
Ms. Bass. Thank you, Mr. Chair, as always, for your
leadership on this and so many other issues.
I would also like to thank our distinguished witnesses,
including the Honorable Robert Jackson, Principal Deputy
Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs; the
Honorable Nancy Lindborg, Assistant Administrator in the Bureau
for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance; and
humanitarian and advocacy experts from the civil society.
According to UNICEF, in 2012 there were an estimated 56
million orphaned children in Africa, of whom an estimated 27
percent were orphaned due to HIV/AIDS.
Numerous sources suggest orphans typically consist of a
number of our most vulnerable children, who have been or could
become victims of trafficking, child labor, violence, and
abuse. We can't allow children under any circumstances to be
subject to such brutality. Congress should do all we can to
ensure that all children can grow up in loving and caring
I am a proud cosponsor of Children in Families First, which
is led by my esteemed colleague, Senator Landrieu. This
legislation can be one of the solutions to addressing the issue
of orphaned children, not only in Africa but around the world.
CHIFF, as we are calling it, Children in Families First,
which aims to redirect some U.S. resources to focus more on
ensuring that all children grow up in families, draws on the
strength of agencies to achieve that goal.
As we prepare to hear from today's witnesses, I hope we can
learn lessons from their expertise and use their knowledge to
improve conditions for orphaned children in Africa. I am
committed to working toward this end and look forward to
working with my colleagues to find the most effective and
Mr. Smith. Thank you very much.
Because of time limitations, would you like to give a brief
Mr. Bera. Yeah, just very quickly, I want to thank the
chairman and ranking member for, obviously, a very important
hearing. We still have a long ways to go, though, I would say.
Mr. Smith. Thank you, Dr. Bera.
As John Lennon said in ``The Ballad of John and Yoko Ono,''
it's good to have the both of you back.
We have two very distinguished government leaders providing
But, very briefly, Nancy Lindborg is the Assistant
Administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and
Humanitarian Assistance at USAID. She has testified before our
subcommittee on numerous occasions.
Since assuming her office in 2010, Ms. Lindborg has led
DCHA teams in response to the ongoing Syria crisis, the Horn of
Africa in 2011, Sahel in 2012 droughts, the Arab Spring, the
aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and numerous
other global crises.
Prior to joining USAID, she was president of Mercy Corps,
where she spent 14 years doing that wonderful work of
protecting the weak and the vulnerable.
We will also then hear from Ambassador Robert Jackson, who
is currently Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary to Bureau of
He previously served as Ambassador to Cameroon as well as
Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge at the U.S. Embassies in
Morocco and Senegal. He has also served at U.S. Embassies in
Burundi, Zimbabwe, Portugal, and Canada.
At the State Department headquarters, he has worked in
commercial and consular sections and conducted officer
training. He has also performed oversight work in the Office
for the Promotion of Democracy and Human Rights after 9/11.
Ambassador Jackson has appeared before this subcommittee,
again, on many, many occasions. And welcome back.
Ms. Lindborg, please go first.
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE NANCY LINDBORG, ASSISTANT
ADMINISTRATOR, BUREAU FOR DEMOCRACY, CONFLICT AND HUMANITARIAN
ASSISTANCE, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Ms. Lindborg. Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Bass, members
of the subcommittee, thank you very much for inviting me to
And, Chairman Smith, I want to specifically acknowledge
your extraordinary leadership on human rights and humanitarian
assistance worldwide. So, many thanks.
Africa, as we know, is a continent on the rise. It has
growing economies and the youngest population in the world.
Fifty percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is under
the age of 18. So there is an extraordinary potential for this
generation of youth to shape the future in powerful ways.
However, more than 200 million of these children currently
live in extreme poverty, over 15 million children have lost one
or more parents to AIDS, and millions more, as we have heard,
are affected by conflict and natural disaster.
I have personally seen what happens to the children and
families who are affected by these conflicts. Often, the shocks
are coming one after another. And we also have seen the
enormous difference that USAID-supported programs can make in
the lives of these affected.
I want to just cite Nyawal Ruach, a 29-year-old mother in
Bor, Sudan. And, during the recent violence, she saw conflict
coming toward her house. She tied her two young sons together
so she wouldn't lose them, but they nonetheless got swept away
in the crowds. And it was through a U.S.-supported center that
reunited families that she was able to find her sons again. In
the middle of a conflict, that is a powerful and important
thing to have happen.
The United States has long been the largest donor for
orphans and vulnerable children. And, in 2005, a very important
law, Public Law 109-95, passed and that, coupled with the
learnings from an evidence summit in 2011, really helped us to
galvanize across the entire interagency and prompt us to create
an Action Plan on Children in Adversity. And so, for the first
time, we now have across the interagency a common framework and
a shared language that really pulls together the efforts of
seven agencies across the U.S. Government.
And, as you noted, Chairman Smith, there are many causes of
adversity, from conflict to poverty to HIV/AIDS, but this
framework helps us understand and stay focused on the three
overarching, interrelated objectives that we know are the most
important for making a difference in the life of a child. So I
want to just quickly talk about those three objectives.
The first is, Africa has seen extraordinary progress in
reducing the number of children who die before their fifth
birthday. These mortality rates have been reduced by almost
half in 20 years. We stand within reach of ending preventable
child and maternal deaths by 2035. That is extraordinary.
We also know that keeping children alive is also just the
first step. We know that the first 1,000 days between a woman's
pregnancy and a child's second birthday lays the foundation for
your entire life, for your lifelong health and your future
So the first objective of our action plan is to build
strong beginnings. And we are helping to build the long-term
health of children through nutrition, through health. We have a
new USAID nutrition policy, and our Office of Food for Peace is
applying the best of nutritional science to reformulate special
foods that meet the nutritional needs of children under 2 with
more therapeutic food products.
We have also seen increasing evidence of the essential need
for nurture and emotional support during these early, critical
formative years. And studies have shown that excessive stress
can actually have the same effect on a developing brain as
A very powerful story that has informed this was that,
following the genocide in Rwanda, when 1 million refugees
poured into what was then Zaire, in an effort to save lives,
infants and children were separated from their families and
essentially laid out on beds so they could receive vaccines and
IV nutritional feeding, yet they still died by the hundreds.
And what we learned from that was the phenomenon called
``failure to thrive,'' that they lacked the human contact and
nurture that is required to grow and to develop.
This was a very painful and powerful lesson, but that has
led to our second objective of the action plan, which is called
``Put Families First.''
Evidence has shown that families, extended families,
including parents, grandparents, relatives, foster or adoptive
families, are the best source of support for children. Yet we
know that about 46 million children in Africa have lost one
parent and over 10 million have lost both.
The vast majority outside of family care do have parents
and relatives, and there is a rich tradition of kinship care in
Africa. So getting children into families and strengthening the
ability of those families to care and protect is a significant
critical priority in both our humanitarian and development
And to do so, our programs support families struggling to
provide care for vulnerable children by connecting them with a
range of help options, whether it is urgent material needs,
financial needs, long-term family income generation, or access
to health and treatment services. We aim to empower them to
decide what is best for their families so they can care for
The third objective of the Action Plan on Children in
Adversity is to protect children, particularly at an early age.
Across the continent, we are targeting vulnerable children,
including, as you have noted, child soldiers, street children,
children accused of witchcraft, children lost in the legal
system, children with disabilities, child laborers, and HIV/
A goal is to support children's reintegration into
communities to help children and youth get the kind of life and
vocational skills that can set them on a pathway, strengthen
local groups in their ability to contribute to advocating for
children's rights in their communities.
We focus on providing safe spaces for children to heal, to
learn; give parents and other caregivers time to address their
own needs and those of their families. So this includes
outreach, direct support for parents, and really tries to
decrease the risk of family separation or child labor.
Very importantly, we also focus on strengthening country
systems. This is a key component of success, as we help local
and national governments take a critical, more active role in
supporting their own children.
We know that if we don't focus on the child we lose the
person. And we know that investments in a strong start for
Africa's children are absolutely critical to lay a foundation
for a healthy, productive future for Africa itself. So USAID
remains very committed to meeting the needs of vulnerable
children in Africa, while also reducing the root issues that
create those conditions for conflict and abuse.
We very much look forward to continuing the cooperation of
the work across the U.S. Government, and especially with this
subcommittee, in our shared commitment to promote healthy,
resilient families and communities where children can thrive.
Mr. Smith. Ms. Lindborg, thank you very much for your
[The prepared statement of Ms. Lindborg follows:]
Mr. Smith. Ambassador Jackson?
STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE ROBERT P. JACKSON, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY
ASSISTANT SECRETARY, BUREAU OF AFRICAN AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT
Ambassador Jackson. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you
for inviting me to testify on the Department of State's
response to orphaned and vulnerable children in Africa.
This hearing is very timely, coming just weeks before the
U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on investing in the next generation.
The Department of State is committed to supporting children
in adversity around the world, including orphaned and
vulnerable children. This work is accomplished through the
Department's diverse programmatic activities, diplomatic
engagement, and policy development. We engage the expertise and
capacity of multiple department offices and bureaus.
At the outset, I wish to make clear that the State
Department does not isolate African orphans in its advocacy for
children in adversity, nor does the Department relegate its
concern only to Africa. All regional bureaus, many functional
bureaus, and the leadership of the Department are focused on
this. It is a very high priority. And we closely coordinate
this work with USAID and other U.S. Government agencies.
Allow me to focus on some of the most prominent issues
facing children in Africa, including AIDS, trafficking, and
conflict, and how we are working in the Department and with our
colleagues at USAID to help address these issues.
It is estimated that there are 17.8 million children who
have lost one or both parents due to AIDS, and 90 percent of
them live in sub-Saharan Africa. The President's Emergency Plan
for AIDS Relief is addressing the needs of orphans and
vulnerable children through programs that mitigate the social,
emotional, and economic impacts of HIV/AIDS on children and
reduce their risk and vulnerability while increasing their
These programs have kept children in school, maintained
children in supportive family environments, kept children safe
by working with governments to promote child-welfare system
strengthening, including the prevention of child abuse, gender-
based violence, and social protection, and reduced barriers to
HIV and health and nutrition services, to name a few. Over the
last 4 years, more than 5 million children worldwide have been
supported by PEPFAR's orphans and vulnerable-children programs.
Second, conflicts in Africa, including those in the Central
African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote
d'Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan,
Sudan, and Uganda, which you mentioned, have provoked an
increase in the number of children recruited or used as child
We take very seriously the issue of unlawful recruitment
and use of children as soldiers in government or government-
supported armed groups, as the Department is responsible for
producing a list of these governments as mandated by the Child
Soldier Prevention Act, CSPA.
In accordance with that act, we continue to work with
African governments to address child soldiers in their
countries, encouraging the signing and implementation of joint
action plans with the U.N. Special Representative of the
Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
We also support the work undertaken by UNICEF to
demobilize, disarm, and rehabilitate former child soldiers.
This year alone, UNICEF has secured the release of 1,000 child
soldiers in the Central African Republic.
We have seen that these action plans can be effective. The
actions taken by the Government of Chad to remove children from
the armed-forces ranks were so successful that a verification
mission undertaken by UNICEF found no child soldiers at all,
and Chad was not listed this year on the CSPA list or the
Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed
I have also seen firsthand how engaging with former child
soldiers can make a difference. When I visited Liberia with
Deputy Secretary of State Higginbottom in June, we met former
child soldiers who had formed nongovernmental organizations and
had created small businesses to help themselves and others
reintegrate into society. One of these stressed the importance
of healing, behavioral change, and economic opportunities,
which underscored to me how crosscutting this issue is.
Grassroots African efforts like this, people helping people,
need to be encouraged and supported.
Third, we know children can be vulnerable to international
and domestic human trafficking, whether through sex
trafficking, forced child soldiering, or forced labor. AIDS
orphans, including those from Swaziland and Lesotho, are
particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Children throughout
the continent are exploited in domestic servitude, forced
begging, and forced labor in a variety of sectors, including
mining, fishing, cattle herding, and harvesting coffee, cocoa,
and rice. Armed conflict and other instability, poor economic
conditions, food insecurity, rural poverty, and lack of social
safety nets can also leave children vulnerable to trafficking
Our Embassies in Africa do not just report on trafficking;
they aggressively engage with governments and civil society,
lobbying for anti-trafficking laws to be passed, for
governments to prosecute traffickers, and for the protection of
victims of trafficking, especially child victims.
Protection is a critical component of the United States' 3-
P strategy for fighting trafficking in persons, the three P's
being prosecution, protection, and prevention. Both the Africa
Bureau and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in
Persons fund victim-assistance programs that are designed
specifically to respond to the comprehensive needs of child
victims of trafficking. Beneficiaries are provided with safe
and secure shelter, medical, paralegal, psychosocial
counseling, and educational support. Furthermore, continuity of
care is provided through ongoing case management and economic
reintegration assistance to reduce the risk of re-trafficking.
One of the pillars of the U.S. Action Plan for Children in
Adversity is strengthening families. When efforts to keep
families together fail, domestic and international adoption may
be one way to help children who have lost parents. Orphans
constitute a large vulnerable population in Africa, and it is
important for us to ensure that they are adopted in an ethical
and transparent manner in accordance with international norms.
That is why we work with our Bureau of Consular Affairs to
encourage countries to join and implement The Hague adoption
convention to further ethical and transparent inter-country
adoptions. Moreover, we have encouraged countries to align
their child welfare systems and adoption practices with
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, through a range of activities,
the Department of State works to support education, security,
social, and child welfare systems to provide humanitarian
assistance and to develop capacity for governance, rule of law,
and the protection and advancement of human rights across the
There are so many ways for us to help children in Africa,
and it is important for us to work collaboratively to address
the issue with a survivor-centered approach, pressing countries
for laws to protect them, supporting efforts to implement those
laws, and establishing protective services in conjunction with
civil society. We look forward to continuing to work with our
U.S. Government colleagues and with this subcommittee to
address this important issue.
I would be pleased to take your questions, and I thank you
Mr. Smith. Thank you very much, Ambassador Jackson.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Jackson follows:]
Mr. Smith. And let me just ask both of you, what are your
time limitations? Again, we thought we would be in late last
night, and then they unexpectedly ended the session, and now we
have votes until about 3:45 p.m. What is your availability?
Because I will ask some questions and risk missing the first
vote. While you are figuring that out, I will just ask the
Ms. Lindborg, you mentioned, and I thank you for your work
on the first 1,000 days of life, from the moment of conception
to the second birthday. As you may or may not know, I have
worked on child survival since my first term in 1982--I got
elected in 1980--and have worked on it ever since, every year
offering amendments to increase, you know, vitamins, increase
especially the issue of immunizations and oral-rehydration
therapy for those suffering diarrheal disease, and all the
rest. But we now know beyond any reasonable doubt those first
1,000 days of life are absolutely pivotal to a child, and I
thank you for your work on that.
My question is, compared to other children in Africa, are
the orphans disproportionately left out of programs that
include the first 1,000 days of life, which would mean that
they will be healthier, have a better immune system, or at
least immunity capabilities, or are there very special efforts
made to include them?
Secondly, you spoke about the failure to thrive. I remember
being in Nicolae Ceausescu's orphanages right after his fall in
Romania after being there many years, and all of a sudden we
found 50 or 60 kids lined up, with one nurse or helper, and
those kids were dying because they weren't even being picked
up. And I am wondering if you could just maybe spend some time
on the importance of, you know, this failure to thrive. I don't
think enough people understand that.
And, Mr. Ambassador, my first question to you would be: The
DR Congo, what is the glitch there? What does the
administration do to try to reverse it? And how quickly can we
expect any results? Do we think we will have results soon,
especially for the families that are waiting so desperately to
get their children and to begin bringing them home?
Ms. Lindborg. Thank you.
On the efforts to include orphaned and vulnerable children,
you know, there has been, fortunately, an important focus,
through the efforts of this Action Plan for Children in
Adversity, to make a special effort to reach out for orphans
and vulnerable children.
One of the challenges that we have, especially in conflict
settings, is we don't always know where they all are or how
many there are. So one of the things that we have been doing is
working with partners to improve our understanding of what is
the pool of need, how to get a better understanding of who is
not being included in the program. So that is an important
We also have a greater ability to target those who are
orphans as a result of HIV/AIDS than those who are orphans
through conflict or other means, simply because of the way that
the funding is structured.
Finally, on the failure-to-thrive issue, I mean, this is
really heartbreaking, and it has led us to really work hard on
the second objective of trying to deinstitutionalize children
and get them into more nurturing environments.
And there have been some very important successes on this.
Like, for example, in Ethiopia, we have worked with the
government. They did a review of all of their institutions,
about 100 institutions, and they found that 45 of them were
simply substandard. They closed them. And with USAID support,
we worked to get those kids back into their families, in some
instances, reunited, or with foster care or other places where
they could get better care.
This is probably one of the areas where we need to spend
the greatest additional focus. We are very determined to
increase our ability to do these kind of programs. And the
evidence is just overwhelming that you really have to take a
So even as we have increased substantially our ability to
feed children more nutritious food more effectively in those
early days and work with pregnant and lactating women, we
really need to keep focusing our attention on this second bit,
on the failure-to-thrive issue.
Mr. Smith. How is your time? And I know you have busy
Ms. Lindborg. Well, I have a 3:30 that will be very hard to
Mr. Smith. Okay. I understand.
And how about you?
Ambassador Jackson. I am available, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Smith. You are? Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. If you could
hold that then, and if I could ask you one other question. I
have a dozen, but we are out of time on the floor.
I am the prime author of the Combating Autism Act. Started
in 1997, it became law in 2000. Our reauthorization bill is
pending over on the Senate side.
One of the things that the IACC Committee, headed up by
NIH, found was that if women are getting folic acid 3 months
before and they are getting prenatal vitamins, in other words,
even before they think they might become pregnant, that the
impact on both mother and child is significantly enhanced, and
it mitigates the possibility--it is not de facto, they haven't
proven it, but they believe it does--of the issue of autism and
a whole lot of other maladies that could occur.
This is relatively new. And, you know, we have had
hearings, we have another one in about a week or so, on autism
globally here in our subcommittee.
And the question is, is there an understanding that
reproductive health ought to be inclusive? Very often, it is
seen as, you know, no babies, how does someone go about not
having a child, rather than how do we enhance the prospects of
a healthier mother and baby.
And now this new component of, if you start earlier,
reproductive health, it means that your child is less likely to
get autism. And tens of millions of Africans have autism, and
it is an epidemic that parallels HIV/AIDS, but largely
unrecognized and unfocused upon.
And when you are done with your comments, we will stand in
recess, and I will have to read them. Be right back.
Ms. Lindborg. So, first of all, thank you for, you know,
your passion and commitment on these issues.
The focus of the first 1,000 days is very much about
reproductive health issues and ensuring that you have healthy
mothers and healthy babies, both tackling the issue of ending
the preventable death of children under 5 and also ensuring
that, through better science, through better ability to have
access to healthcare services, through better nutrition, that
we are able to continue to make gains in this realm.
So that is absolutely a strong focus through a whole
variety of programs that we do that are focused on women who
are in community situations as well as those who are in
conflict environments where it becomes more difficult to
provide those services but just as much of a priority.
Ambassador Jackson. So, in terms of DRC adoptions, they
were suspended last September due to the DRC Government's
concerns about fraud, corruption, and potential child-buying
and their lack of capacity to manage the adoption program.
We have been engaged continuously since then. We have met
with Ministers of Foreign Affairs; Interior; Gender, Family and
Children; and the Minister of Justice. On May 4th, Secretary
Kerry met with President Kabila and made a personal plea for
him to lift the suspension. Subsequent to that, we were able to
secure exit permits for a small number of children.
Dr. Biden, the Second Lady of the United States, was in
Kinshasa earlier this month. She also made a plea for new exit
permits to be issued. And, this afternoon, some of my
colleagues are meeting with the Congolese Ambassador at the
So my basic message is that we remain very engaged in
attempting to secure exit permits for these children, while
supporting the Congolese efforts to strengthen their own
internal controls to assure that children are being adopted by
families who will give them loving, caring homes.
Mr. Smith. The subcommittee will resume its sitting.
And I do want to welcome our distinguished witnesses and
apologize profusely for that very long delay, which was
attributable to votes. Like I said earlier, we thought that
there were going to be a whole cluster last night and that we
would have been relatively free today. That didn't happen, so I
We are joined by Congressman Steve Stockman, who, frankly,
just led a delegation to Abuja, to Nigeria, and he has freshly
returned. And thank him for his leadership on these issues.
And I will now go to the introductions of our distinguished
panelists, beginning first with Kelly Dempsey, who is the
mother of three children, two of them adopted. She is an
attorney, practicing primarily in adoption law in her own firm
in North Carolina.
After overcoming her own struggle to bring home her
daughter, adopted from Vietnam, her legal practice expanded
from civil litigation to focus on immigration issues with the
international adoptions of children living abroad. Ms. Dempsey
has represented hundreds of families in dozens of countries to
ensure that the adoption process was completed and they were
able to return home with their children.
She also works to promote international adoption as a
viable option for unparented children and to identify and
implement solutions that enable more children to find
permanent, loving homes.
We will then hear from Ms. Shimwaayi Muntemba, who is from
Zambia and founded Zambia Orphans Aid in the United States. She
was instrumental in the creation of the St. Peter Claver
Society for African orphans at St. John's Catholic Church in
She worked at the World Bank on Africa-related issues, such
as microfinance, women's empowerment, and the environment and
development balance. Indeed, it is because of her dedication to
orphans affected by AIDS that she gave up her position at the
World Bank to dedicate herself to this important cause.
We will then hear if from Ms. Jovana Jones, who is part of
a military couple who are adopting a 5-year-old Congolese girl
who is several hearing-impaired. Her adopted daughter is
currently residing in a very poor orphanage, and while they are
being billed for her medical expenses, she and her husband are
unable to take her home with them. The prospects are limited
for the Joneses' daughter if she is forced to stay in the DRC,
and they are afraid for her life and wellbeing.
And, finally, we will hear from Muluemebet Chekol Hunegnaw,
who is a senior director of Save the Children's global
monitoring and evaluation and knowledge management unit. She is
responsible for providing leadership for setting the vision and
strategy of the monitoring and evaluation and the knowledge
management system of its international programs in more than 50
She has more than 20 years of experience in international
development and served as director of programs for the Africa
region of Save the Children's South Sudan program. She also
worked as a USAID mission monitoring and evaluation advisor in
And I thank you again for your patience and look forward to
If you could begin, Ms. Dempsey.
STATEMENT OF MS. KELLY DEMPSEY, GENERAL COUNSEL AND DIRECTOR OF
ADVOCACY AND OUTREACH, BOTH ENDS BURNING
Ms. Dempsey. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I first want to thank
you for the opportunity to appear today before this
subcommittee and to talk about an important tool of protection
for the orphan child in Africa, and that specific tool is
I have prepared a written statement, and I also ask that
that be entered into the record.
Mr. Smith. Without objection, it will be made a part of the
Ms. Dempsey. I am here on behalf of Both Ends Burning
today, and we are a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated
to promoting and protecting every child's right to live in a
Family is the bedrock of our society. There is nothing more
important in a child's life than his or her connection to their
parents. When that connection is threatened, we need our
foreign policies to help strengthen it. When it is severed, it
should be repaired. And when it can't be repaired, we should
help form a new connection, and that connection should be
formed through international or domestic adoption, when
This is the central role, I think, of child protection and
child welfare that is missing today in our foreign policies.
Far too often, we relegate adoption to a simple immigration
issue, and we are missing an opportunity to serve children
Department of State, through the Embassies in Addis Ababa
and in Kinshasa, as well as the Office of Children's Issues,
plays a key role in international adoptions. However, instead
of aiding American families and advocating for orphaned
children, the Department of State has become an obstacle that
must be overcome in order for children to come home to their
families. Instead of engaging the foreign governments in
partnerships that promote permanency for children, the
Department of State instead institutes policies that slow or
stop adoptions. Instead of engaging the American adoptive
parents, their adoption agencies, and advocate organizations,
such as Both Ends Burning, we are regarded as adversaries. This
approach is damaging children, and we have seen it over and
I want to focus my remarks today on Ethiopia and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo because those are the
countries with which I have the most experience.
In Ethiopia, in 2010, we saw 2,500 children come home to
the United States. It was an all-time high and just barely
touching the need that exists in that country. What has
happened since is a 60-percent decline.
And part of that is because, in 2010, when the growth was
at an all-time high, the Department of State made the decision
to try to close Ethiopia to adoptions. Luckily, there was
resistance, and a team was sent in from USCIS and Department of
State to investigate the problems that the Department of State
believed existed in adoptions. And they reviewed more than
4,000 cases, all of the cases that had happened in the prior 2
years. And what that team found was that, overwhelmingly, these
adoptions were good, ethical adoptions.
They found a cluster of factors, when present, that would
warrant further investigation, and they found that cluster of
factors to exist in about 5 percent of the cases. Everyone
walked away believing that when those factors were present,
adoptions would be looked at more closely to ensure ethical,
And, instead, what happened is the U.S. Embassy started
putting files in a drawer. Instead of adjudicating cases, which
is their mandate, they started putting files in a drawer. And
what that meant for children is that they languished in an
orphanage. They did not tell families, they did not tell USCIS,
they did not tell the Ethiopian Government authorities; they
simply put files in a drawer.
Time passed. Families banded together, as they often do.
They reached out to Members of Congress because you all have
become necessary players in the adoption process. And we are
very grateful for the work you do. And what was discovered was
that these cases weren't being adjudicated.
Another team went over from USCIS, and they conducted a
review of those cases, and, in the end, all but one was
approved. But what that cost families and children was anywhere
from an extra 6 months to 1 year of their life, extraordinary
financial expenses, and the emotional toll that cannot be
repaid. And what has happened since then has been an
astonishing chilling effect on international adoptions from
Ethiopia--again, a 60-percent decline since the high of 2,500
Similarly, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we saw
a period of growth. In 2010, there were 41 adoptions, and that
number has slowly increased over the last few years.
In 2013, unable to handle the influx of cases, several
hundred, the Department of State, again, began seeking ways to
slow or stop adoptions from the Democratic Republic of the
Congo. They implemented a policy of 100-percent mandatory field
investigations despite the fact that over 97 percent of all
cases coming out of Democratic Republic of the Congo had been
approved. So that is a 3-percent denial. I would say it doesn't
justify the allocation of resources.
And what they told families and what they told the
Democratic Republic of the Congo was that that would lengthen
the adoption process but it would ensure integrity, which we
certainly all support. However, there was no increase in the
allocation of resources, and, instead, there were
unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.
Shortly thereafter, the suspension that now exists went
into place, and over 800 families became stuck in a process and
over 800 children became stuck in orphanages, unable to come
home to their families.
And what we saw immediately following the suspension was,
frankly, not much. The Department of State, instead of becoming
advocates for these families and their children, instead of
sharing their experiences of 90-percent approvals, began to sit
quietly and to encourage the families to do the same. More than
10 months passed, and, still, families are not getting answers
to their questions.
In April, recognizing the size of this crisis and the lack
of response from the Department of State, Both Ends Burning
became engaged in an advocacy campaign and Congress became
engaged in an advocacy campaign. And we have had tremendous
support, both from you and from this subcommittee and from the
entire House, and we are very grateful for House Resolution 588
that was recently passed.
It is not enough to bring these children home. And so the
families--I would like to acknowledge the ones that are here
today. In addition to Ms. Jones, who will speak, we have
families who are here.
I also have affidavits from six of the families that I
would like to be entered into the record, as well.
Mr. Smith. Without objection, so ordered.
Ms. Dempsey. Thank you.
And what we learned from their affidavits and from these
families is that there has been a total lack of response, a
total lack of urgency, and a total lack of meaningful
engagement to resolve this crisis.
We ask for urgency to move forward in this and that we find
a solution that allows these kids to come home before any more
die. We are aware of 10 that have perished during the wait, and
we believe that many more will. In fact, one of the
Mr. Smith. Perished from what?
Ms. Dempsey. From waiting. I mean, dehydration, malaria,
malnutrition, easily avoidable diseases, when they could have
been home in this country.
We have had siblings separated, biological siblings
separated, due to errors at the Embassy. One kid is home; one
kid is stuck in Congo waiting for processing and the suspension
to lift. Really astonishing and outrageous tragedies that could
and should be avoided.
And so what I think is of paramount importance and what
Both Ends Burning is advocating for and asking for is a foreign
policy solution that creates a tool by which permanency can
become a central tenet of child welfare and child protection.
When I listened to the speakers earlier today, I didn't
hear that. And, in fact, I didn't hear anybody talking about
finding family solutions for kids when their own families and
kinship care wasn't available.
It shouldn't be relegated to a last-place idea. It should
be planned for and advocated for so that children are getting
their most basic needs met. And, today, in the Department of
State, through the Office of Children's Issues and Consular
Affairs, it simply isn't happening.
I would be happy to answer any questions.
Mr. Smith. Thank you so very much for that testimony,
disturbing, extremely disturbing, as it is. And we will get to
questions when our other panelists are concluded, but I thank
you for that.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Dempsey follows:]
Mr. Smith. Ms. Muntemba?
STATEMENT OF SHIMWAAYI MUNTEMBA, PH.D., FOUNDER, ZAMBIA ORPHANS
Ms. Muntemba. Good afternoon. I am a Zambian citizen, as
the chair has said, who has personally been touched by the
orphan problem, having lost 5 younger sisters and brothers,
leaving a total of 11 children, some as young as 3 and 5.
The good thing is that my nieces and nephews have helped me
appreciate the orphan phenomenon and have spurred me to both
focus on HIV and AIDS and social protection as part of my work
and to be proactive in seeking assistance to reach those
orphans whose families cannot provide for them adequately.
We have heard that there are 56 million orphans in Africa,
but this is an official figure. In Africa, official numbers do
not capture all orphans. Many deaths occur in rural areas, and
these are not recorded.
The definition of ``orphans'' has also distorted their
numbers. For example, to UNAIDS, an orphan should have lost
both parents and is under 15 years of age. UNICEF'S definition
embraces children zero to 17 years old who have lost one or
both parents. African governments have adopted this definition.
With so many armed conflicts raging in Africa, some civil
society institutions--and I tend to agree with them--are
advocating the definition to include abandoned and alone
children. And these are many in most of the countries in
central and western Africa.
On the causes, we can identify five major causes of
orphanhood in Africa: Armed and civil conflict, natural
disasters, weak and unequal health systems, abject poverty, and
HIV and AIDS.
I have been asked to say a few words on HIV and AIDS. HIV
and AIDS has hit eastern and southern Africa the hardest.
Seventy percent of Africa's 15.1 million orphans of AIDS are in
the eastern and southern subregions, most of them in the
But southern Africa reports the highest uptick of
antiretroviral treatment in Africa. It leads national
governmental budgetary allocations to HIV and AIDS. Yet, in
2012, more infections and AIDS-related deaths occurred in this
subregion. Orphan numbers have risen exponentially in the last
2 decades and are poised to grow over the next few years and
The question is, why is this? I suggest that interventions
seem to focus disproportionately on treatment and away from
prevention. The gender dimension of HIV and AIDS and its
treatment and the generational unequal access to treatment are
impacting negatively on AIDS management outcomes. As well,
poverty is undermining the effectiveness of treatment among the
majority poor in most of our countries.
A look at the impact on orphans: Children are firstly hit
emotionally, as we have heard. When AIDS is the cause of death,
stigma affects younger children within their communities and at
school. Children have lost educational opportunities either
because caregiving families are too poor or are not near
Another impact has been that of abuse in hosting families.
In such situations, girls are treated as indentured labor and/
or sex objects.
Another is the phenomenon of child-headed households, some
heads as young as 7 years old but many around 10 and 11. Those
heads who contract HIV are hardly on treatment.
Response: I wish to focus on two groups, close or extended
family members. Initially, they responded positively, but as
orphan numbers grew alongside entrenched poverty, families
became overwhelmed. Today, many extended families have
difficulties taking on that responsibility. And this is why I
am very much touched by what is being tried in the way of
adoptions. What was normal in our cultures in Africa has become
a burden to many.
Second, within the international community, Africans in the
diaspora have responded by mobilizing financial and technical
support in the countries where they live and work. I will give
two examples from the Washington area.
In 2000, supported by former Ambassadors and Embassy staff
in Zambia and other African countries, we formed Zambia Orphans
of AIDS, now Zambia Orphans Aid. We now operate in the UK as
well and are registered in Zambia. Through community-based
organizations and community schools, we have reached over
10,000 orphans--a drop in the ocean, perhaps.
In 2004, St. John Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia,
formed the St. Peter Claver Society for African Orphans.
Through four institutions in Kenya and Zambia, the Society has
assisted many orphans in Kenya and Zambia over the last 10
years, offering them the means for HIV testing, for being
looked after by physiotherapists, for access to education, and
for general food and nutritional needs.
In both cases, individual Americans have rallied in support
of the orphans. But I must underline, though, that despite the
goodwill and hard work, the demand outstrips the supply. What
then, Mr. Chairman?
Previous contributions from him and probably from her may
offer some of what we have to look at. But I feel that there
are other opportunities for a minimum humanitarian response.
Number 1) greater political will is needed at the national
level on behalf of orphans.
Number 2) higher-education funds are needed for orphans, to
include technical and entrepreneurial skills training,
specifying a proportion for girls.
Number 3) cash and in-kind support for child-headed
families need to be intensified, but--and I underline this--for
a specified timeframe, after which alternative care options
must have been identified and offered to the children. However,
this support must be flexible enough to respond to the shifting
orphan care priorities.
I thank you for offering me the opportunity.
Mr. Smith. Ms. Muntemba, thank you so much for your
[The prepared statement of Ms. Muntemba follows:]
Mr. Smith. Ms. Jones, if would you proceed.
STATEMENT OF MRS. JOVANA JONES, ADOPTIVE MOTHER OF A CONGOLESE
Ms. Jones. Yes. Thank you for having me here.
We first saw our daughter, who we will name Ana Lei when
she arrives, we first saw Ana Lei in April 2013 on a special-
needs adoption Web site.
We decided early on to adopt an older child internationally
with a hearing impairment because we read many cases where deaf
older children are often overlooked and grow up without a
language or the ability to communicate.
A few months ago, we were pleased to hear that Ana Lei's
orphanage was within walking distance from a school, only to be
disappointed that she was unable to attend and learn with the
other children because of her hearing impairment. The idea of
being trapped inside your own mind, frustrated with the
inability to express your thoughts and feelings and ostracized
from your friends--it is heartbreaking to even think about.
My family and I are the solution, if just for Ana Lei. We
are willing, able, and ready to bring this princess into our
home, to give her endless opportunities to love, communicate,
share her dreams, fears, and excitement.
I love to educate myself in what would be her first
language, American Sign Language. Over the last several years,
I have taken courses and volunteered at Gallaudet, the deaf
university just minutes from here. My family has participated
in deaf events and attended deaf church services--anything we
can do to immerse ourselves and increase our knowledge and
skills in the deaf culture.
We also attend adoption conferences and take prep classes
for adoptive parents so that we are fully aware of the good,
bad, and ugly for when Ana Lei comes home.
Our children have been eagerly waiting, especially our
biological daughter, for their sister to come home so they can
have tea parties, show her dance moves, and sign bedtime
stories. As a family, we enjoy signing during meal times, using
captions whenever we watch TV, and having a weekly movie time
where we watch an all-deaf, 30-minute educational kids show.
We homeschool our children, and we have Ana Lei's school
desk and preschool supplies ready for her when she comes home.
I have read books about teaching deaf children and have an
awesome support group of moms homeschooling their deaf
My husband and we have been an Active Duty Air Force family
for over 15 years. For the last 3 years, we have made it our
mission to prepare financially and logistically for this
adoption. We have sacrificed family vacations and held several
fundraisers for this costly adoption. Our church was
instrumental not only in giving but also in emotional and
Painstakingly but gratefully, we have raised all the funds
needed for the adoption. We have bought furniture and prepped
and painted Ana Lei's room. As a military-trained technician,
my husband has planned to upgrade and install strobelight smoke
detectors, doorbell signals, and other home devices for the
The nearby military bases will also offer family support
through classes and workshops. And with the natural diversity
that the military brings, our Congolese-American daughter will
blend right into play groups, sport teams, and homeschool
We are more than ready for Ana Lei's arrival. After years
of studying, enduring financial burdens, not to mention the
countless hours of reading, completing, and mailing reams of
adoption forms, indeed, my family has sacrificed much. We
realize, though, that our hardship is well worth Ana Lei's
education, her happiness, and her life.
As adoptive parents, we have spent years preparing, and it
is imperative that our children come home immediately. We have
done our part. Our families have done all we can, and we are at
our limit. We boldly ask for the backing and the support of our
President, our Congressmen, and our elected officials, that you
all draw your focus on removing any further delays of the
adoption process within the countries of Africa.
We sincerely appreciate the efforts that have been made
thus far, but, frankly, it is not enough. It is not enough
until we have each orphan home with his or her American family.
Each moment of delay makes it more difficult for them to adjust
and more challenging for the parents to provide care.
Our arms are open now, and our homes are ready to receive
them today. We pray that our Government mirrors our dedication
and does its due diligence to bring our children home.
Mr. Smith. Ms. Jones, thank you very much. I pray that also
and hopefully we will all do our due diligence and accelerate
our efforts on your behalf and all the others have that have
been left behind, so thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Jones follows:]
Mr. Smith. Ms. Hunegnaw?
STATEMENT OF MS. MULUEMEBET CHEKOL HUNEGNAW, SENIOR DIRECTOR,
MONITORING & EVALUATION AND KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PROGRAM
QUALITY AND IMPACT DEPARTMENT, INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS, SAVE THE
Ms. Hunegnaw. Thank you.
On behalf of the Save the Children, I thank you for the
opportunity to testify today on this critical issue and request
that my full statement be submitted for the record.
Save the Children is a nonprofit, child-focused
organization working in the U.S. and in more than 120 countries
and is considered a global leader in humanitarian and
development assistance. We build capacity for countries to
deliver and provide support for health, education, protection,
and disaster relief services for more than 125 million children
We are on the ground in countries across Africa,
programming and advocating for those policies, programs, and
funds that strengthen families and government systems to care
for children. There are a range of factors that drive the
vulnerability of orphans and children throughout Africa,
including HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, conflict and violence,
and extreme poverty.
The term ``orphan,'' consistent with PEPFAR's definition,
is defined as a child who has lost one or both parents. In
almost all cases, the other parent or close family members are
alive and present in a child's life. Throughout Africa, kinship
care is a powerful and important concept.
In this testimony, I will highlight and elaborate on four
approaches that are key to an effective U.S. response to
protect and support these children: First, strengthening
families who are the frontline support systems for children;
and, second, strengthening protection systems which can address
the range of needs for families and communities; and, third,
addressing the growing problem of children becoming the
caretakers; and, lastly, continuing to develop better
strategies for supporting children in families who are affected
The crisis of Africa's orphans has been fueled over the
last 15 years by HIV/AIDS, altering more than 20 million
children's lives through loss of a parent or being infected
themselves. In addition, their situation is compounded by
threats associated with armed conflict and terrorism, including
trafficking, sexual violence and exploitation, abduction, and
recruitment into armed forces. With weak child-protection
systems in many African countries, children are becoming more
vulnerable, especially in countries affected by ongoing
violence and conflict.
Orphans and vulnerable-children services include holistic
care and support services per OVC guidance, including
psychosocial care and support, household economic
strengthening, social protection, child protection, education,
and health and nutrition. Strengthening the systems that
support vulnerable children and families ensure that children
who are infected with HIV receive the support they need and
that children who are affected do not become infected as they
One element of OVC programming that we are increasingly
focused upon because of the success and importance is
strengthening families. Looking at the child in the context of
his or her family and community has shown to be the most
effective approach and indicates the need to further integrate
those programs that address the needs of children and their
caregivers holistically, including maternal and child health,
HIV/AIDS treatment, home-based care, economic resilience, and
child protection. We understand the role that strong families,
including extended families, play, ensuring that children can
grow and develop healthy and reduce the risk of harm to
Another positive trend in orphans and vulnerable-children
programming is an increased awareness and focus on the value of
social protection to support Africa's orphaned and vulnerable
children. Strong social welfare systems are critical to
ensuring that investments to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS
and poverty on Africa's orphaned and vulnerable children are
Our work builds the support for vulnerable children within
their own communities, assisting them in getting protection,
food security, economic strength, and access to basic health
and education. We identify children who are orphaned and
vulnerable and link them to an appropriate service that meets
A challenge but critical component of OVC programming is
support for the needs of children as caregivers. Evidence shows
that children in Africa, most of them become the dominant
caregiver to family members when living with HIV/AIDS-infected
parents who have chronic illness and may be approaching death,
caring for increasingly frail grandparents, or leading
households and caring for young siblings. The precise scale of
child-caring remains unknown but is likely to be widespread and
impacts many parts of their lives, including their ability to
get an education.
Finally, one of the biggest challenges for OVC programming
for an implementer is protecting and supporting children
located in conflict-affected or fragile states. For these
children, the already difficult circumstances and complexity of
needs is compounded with the fragility, uncertainty, and unsafe
In these areas, Save the Children has seen a rise in sex
trafficking, street children, and children being placed in
institutions. This presents a significant child-protection
concern, as these children are often without the guidance of an
adult caregiver, and the situation is compounded by increased
exposure to threats associated with armed conflict. With child-
protection systems weak or completely destroyed due to
conflict, protecting orphans living in fragile states is
Looking forward, Save the Children would welcome the
subcommittee's support to address the plight of orphans and
vulnerable children in Africa, and we would like to highlight
two areas where congressional involvement would have a powerful
impact on children's lives.
First, Save the Children is a strong supporter of USAID's
2012 OVC guidelines and their comprehensive approach to care,
including child protection, education, health care, and early
childhood development and family strengthening. We are
profoundly appreciative and supportive of the funds that
Congress included as a requirement that programs for orphans
and vulnerable children continue to be 10 percent of all PEPFAR
program funds. Any dilution or reduction of those funds or
commingling of those funds with those for treatment should be
discouraged, and it would threaten our ability to provide this
essential service for children.
Second, we strongly support the codification of the whole-
government Action Plan for Children in Adversity. The action
plan and its primary three objectives--strong beginnings,
protective family care, and reduction of violence against
children--are all goals that I hope we can share. Codifying
these priorities through legislation would support a more
comprehensive approach, encourage efficiencies and coordination
across government agencies, shared outcomes, and
In conclusion, we thank the subcommittee for its continued
leadership on U.S.-African global issues and would like to
continue to be a resource for you in the future. We ask for
your continued partnership with us to invest in children so
that they have what every child deserves: The right to not just
survive but thrive.
[Ms. Hunegnaw's prepared statement was submitted after the
hearing and appears in the appendix.]
Mr. Smith. Thank you so very much, Ms. Hunegnaw. Let me ask
you a question with regards to--does your organization consider
adoption a form of protection?
And I say that because there is a huge gulf between people
who view adoption, inter-country adoption especially, as a form
of human trafficking, which I find absolutely unconscionable.
And I can give you an example. When Romania ended its
inter-country adoptions--I mentioned earlier that I had worked
on human rights vis-a-vis Romania from my very first days in
the U.S. Congress in 1981. And when Nicolae Ceausescu lost his
reign of terror as the President of that country, unelected,
huge numbers of orphanages were discovered where kids were
literally abandoned. And adoption flourished, on and off, but
it did flourish, and there were a large number of inter-country
A woman by the name of Lady Nicholson, who was the
rapporteur for the EU in terms of ascension into the EU from
Romania, made it very clear that a prerequisite for ascension
into the European Union was an end to inter-country adoption.
And she construed all inter-country adoptions as a form of
And I would note parenthetically, as the author of the
Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, the landmark law to
combat human trafficking at home and abroad, I take a backseat
to no one in my absolute abhorrence of human trafficking. And
that is why The Hague Convention was formulated as a way of
facilitating it's end.
But I am just wondering if your organization does look at
adoption as a form of protection for children.
Ms. Hunegnaw. Thank you.
Save the Children supports enabling families to care for
children. We believe unnecessary separation of children from
their families should be prevented.
Mr. Smith. Yes.
Ms. Hunegnaw. We promote appropriate and permanent family
care for children. But we believe that inter-country adoption
should be an option only when it follows the standards and
regulations contained within The Hague Convention.
Our primary focus is making sure that children are cared
for in a family context, as much as possible in their country
of origin, and inter-country adoption is taking up only as an
option when that is not available.
Mr. Smith. Mr. Stockman wanted to comment, and then----
Mr. Stockman. Yeah----
Mr. Smith [continuing]. Ms. Dempsey, I think you might want
Mr. Stockman. Yeah, go ahead.
Mr. Smith. Or----
Mr. Stockman. Well, I have, actually, a question for Ms.
Ms. Dempsey. Yes?
Mr. Stockman. And I get to ask this because it is asked of
me, quite frankly, often, because we shipped medical supplies
to DRC. In fact, one of the most dangerous trips I think I ever
took was from Brazzaville to Kinshasa on that little boat.
And I am wondering, what motivated you to get involved in
this? And how often do you go to Africa? And how do you
describe your personal experience?
Ms. Dempsey. I come to this work as an adoptive mom. And
overcoming the obstacles I encountered in my own Government to
bring my daughter home from Vietnam is the reason I do this
work. I came, realizing that there was a deficit in advocacy
for families, and I shifted my practice, frankly. And it has
become my life's work to help bring orphaned children into
families when they need it.
The DRC crisis started in September, and at Both Ends
Burning we were monitoring it. And when it became obvious to us
that the Department of State wasn't meaningfully engaged--and
the way that it became obvious to us was that they couldn't
even tell us how many people were impacted, how many children
were impacted, how many sick kids were at risk, they couldn't
give us basic information--we decided that we needed to step in
and help the families become organized and advocates for
So my interest is in helping these families. I come to this
work from a very personal commitment to kids, but it has become
my life's work.
I haven't actually traveled to Africa. I hope to do that
very soon. So most of our efforts have been focused on engaging
Members of Congress and the administration to help Department
of State find its way to make this an urgent humanitarian
crisis and find a solution to it.
Mr. Smith. If my friend would yield?
Mr. Stockman. Yes, I will.
Mr. Smith. We have with us today Whitney Reitz from the
USCIS, who actually did the investigation of Ethiopia when
those allegations were made. She led the interagency delegation
to Addis Ababa in early 2011. She reviewed many cases on site
at the Embassy and then analyzed a database of over 4,000
And her team's finding was 75 percent of the cases were
clean and nonproblematic, 25 percent had problems generally of
a clerical nature, and just 5 percent presented factors that
would warrant a closer investigation, which, clearly, indicated
a far better record than the holdups and for the lack of
responsiveness would indicate and, of course, I would say on
behalf of our subcommittee, we are very grateful for the work
that you did on that, Ms. Reitz.
But you say, Ms. Dempsey, in your testimony, again, getting
back to Kinshasa, that when the numbers exploded--``explosive''
was the word you used--from a handful to several hundred of
adoptions in the DRC, that their inability to handle the
casework led to mandatory field investigations for all cases.
Were there other proximate causes? Were they genuinely
concerned about other mitigating factors that might say there
is a problem here? Or was it just a matter of this slows the
Ms. Dempsey. Well, I wish they were here to answer that
Mr. Smith. Well, you know, before you answer it, we did
invite the Office of Children's Issues to be here. And we have
turned this hearing into part one of a two-part hearing
process. We will invite Ambassador Susan Jacobs to be here. She
has testified before my subcommittee on previous occasions,
particularly as a relates to child abduction.
And I would note parenthetically, I have a bill that is
pending in the Senate right now that passed on December 11th in
the House which the Department seemingly was against--Secretary
Kerry changed that position, and now they are for it--on child
abduction, another hat that the Office of Children's Issues
And it was all from what I learned in dealing with the case
of David Goldman, whose child was abducted to Brazil. Five
years later and a whole lot of mistakes later, he finally got
his son back. So it incorporates all the lessons learned there.
And I think we need to be moving even more aggressively
forward on this issue of child abduction, as well, so that we
can get this right. So if you could maybe speak to that.
You also testified that there was a lack of resourcing. And
if you have any idea of how many resources need to be deployed
here. And any of you might want to speak to that.
And you also brought up the issue of where the central
authority should be housed. And that was a big issue in the
year 2000 faced by Congress; do we go to HHS, or do we go to
Department of State? I am not sure that should be revisited,
maybe it should, but if you could speak to that, as well.
Ms. Dempsey. Well, those are a lot of questions, and I will
try to do my best to answer them. Please let me know where I
fail, because I certainly will.
With respect to the Department of State's motives in
implementing the 100-percent mandatory field investigations, it
is my understanding that they deemed the growth itself to be
problematic, and nothing more than that.
And that is a tried-and-true tactic that we have seen from
the Department of State. Any time a program experiences growth,
what you and I would regard as a success for children is deemed
a problem at the Department of State Office of Children's
Issues and in the U.S. Embassies. And they start to view every
case with suspicion and mistrust and looking for bad actors and
And while we certainly want them to make sure that these
cases are ethical, transparent, well-done, that the kids are
legitimately orphans in need of permanent families--we expect
that of them--what we know is that they don't use the right
tools to do that. And, instead, what they are doing is slowing
down a system and engaging with foreign governments and
adoptive families in a way that is, frankly, offensive and
So I look forward to the second round of this, and I look
forward to their questions on that specific issue.
With respect to the Office of Children's Issues as our
central authority, what I can say based on the numbers and my
personal and professional experience with them is that they are
failing children. They are failing children in need, and they
are not advocating for permanent solutions for children.
Part of that is that their mandate is too narrow, I
believe. They are tasked with enforcing Hague, promoting Hague,
and that becomes an inherent conflict of interest in non-Hague
countries. And our Hague expectations are perhaps unrealistic
in developing nations, who simply lack the infrastructure and
resources to integrate all that is necessary to become a
partner under Hague.
And so what I would suggest is that we engage them in
collaboration and we help them build systems that work and
serve children well, instead of pointing fingers and making
accusations and allegations that are unsubstantiated. And that
is what we are doing today.
So I believe Children in Families First, the pending bill,
does a very good job of addressing the solution. It removes the
Office of Children's Issues from primary responsibility for
child protection and child welfare, and it would create a new
office to do that. Both Ends Burning fully supports it. We are
a member of the working group, and we would like to see that
legislation move forward as quickly as possible.
I don't think that is the solution for the DRC kids today.
I think that will take too long, and we can't make the
fundamental change that is necessary. And so what we are
looking for from Congress on the DRC crisis is immediate
intervention at the highest levels and reaching out to DRC in
the way that the Department of State has failed to do.
Mr. Smith. Would anyone else like to address that?
And in the case of Kinshasa, was there, in your opinion,
Ms. Jones perhaps, how long before they informed you of the
tardiness of this process?
And you mentioned, Ms. Dempsey, the Department of State
could and should have been actively involved from the moment
the suspension went into effect to find a solution. When did
they get involved?
Ms. Dempsey. Well, they announced it 2 days after it went
into effect. So they issued an alert. It wasn't until June that
they asked families with sick kids to come forward and to
provide medical records and to identify themselves. That is 9
months after the adoption crisis began. That is 10 children who
perished in the meantime. And that was only after Congress
called on them to make that happen. It wasn't until May that
they could provide anybody, in Congress or otherwise, with the
number of families who were involved in this crisis.
And so they claim to have been actively engaged from the
start. I would suggest the results tell us otherwise. It wasn't
until Congress issued a mandate and sent a letter to President
Kabila that we saw the few kids that have come home come home.
And while we celebrate every victory and we are so grateful
for the 21 children who have come home, there are hundreds more
waiting, and we can't rest on that and consider ourselves
victorious. We have a lot of work to do.
Mr. Smith. Did you want to respond, Ms. Muntemba?
Ms. Muntemba. Yeah, Mr. Chair. I think I want to--I am very
interested in this subject, but I want to underline that for
Africa, really, adoption is very, very much a new thing, and it
is in its infancy.
And in terms of addressing the problem of orphans as it is
now, we can obviously bring that in, but there are so many more
issues that we are struggling with at the moment, that people
are trying to deal with. For example, what she says there.
There is so much push on let families look after their kids,
not adoption, not orphanages, not this and that, and yet we are
not helping these families. So I would like to know, what are
we doing to strengthen this?
What I know and my research has shown me, the extended-
family system is really breaking down in Africa. So if we want
these kids to be with families, to be in the family
environment, we have to strengthen them. What are we going to
do about that?
Because adoption, unless you really, really push it, it is
very--I mean, I adopted my sister's son, and it wasn't easy for
me. As an, in my culture, I would say mother, older mother, it
wasn't easy for me to bring him here. So, I mean, it is not a
solution that we can see in that next 10, 20, 30 years.
But the breaking down of family systems is where I think we
have to push for your help at the moment. What can you do to
push African governments to help at that level?
Mr. Smith. None of us ever said that adoption was the only
solution; it is just part of a comprehensive approach.
I will never forget, 10 years ago, a decade ago, Greg
Simpkins, who is our staff director on this subcommittee, and I
were in Addis Ababa and went to an AIDS orphanage, and we had
five kids on each arm as we walked through the place. Big
smiles. Just kids looking for a place to go. And we know that
some of those kids were not adoptable because it was an
economic and--you know, the extended family could not care for
these AIDS orphans.
But it underscored to me--and this is an experience I will
never forgot--the desperate need for affection and love and a
stable home where they could grow up in.
And the people who ran it were obviously absolutely
committed. It was faith-based. It was backed by USAID. But, you
know, there was only so much they could do.
But it is just part of the solution. None of us are ever
saying this is a panacea. But your point is well-taken.
Mr. Stockman. Yeah.
Ms. Jones, can I ask a question? Two things. You mentioned
you would take her to church. And are you from here locally,
and which church is it?
Ms. Jones. No. My children--we have never met our adopted
Mr. Stockman. And which country?
Ms. Jones. So she is from DRC, so she is from Congo, so we
have never met her before. But we are just preparing to have
her here, so we do attend different services, you know, that
have deaf children and deaf services.
Mr. Stockman. Yeah, I have a deaf staffer on staff. But I
am wondering, when I was over there--and I guess, have you
Ms. Jones. We have never been.
Mr. Stockman. Okay. Well, I was wondering--I am actually
going to ask the committee on this--have any of you been to
Because the problem there is just more than--there are a
lot of problems there. It is very problematic in so many ways.
It is the size of Western Europe; it is a very large country.
And in the eastern half, there is guerilla warfare, on and off
for many years, so many people have been killed there. And the
government seems to be thriving on bribes. When you leave, they
ask for money. So it is inherently a challenging country, not
just for adoptions but even for travel.
And I am wondering if you could tell the committee or us
what you think we could do to facilitate more pressure on the
government. Because I understand that the President actually
will be here in about 2 weeks, so I will bring this topic up
with him. But I also think he is probably meeting with the
Are you meeting with the--yeah, well, he is coming here in
2 weeks. Yeah.
So I guess my question to you is, what message would you
like us to carry to the President?
Ms. Jones. I would like to say that, you know, that we--you
know, there are a lot of criteria that the adoptive parents
have to go through. And we are going through each one, even if
there are new things that are brought to us after we have
finished, you know, 6 pages and 30 pages of, you know,
different forms. You know, so we are doing all that we have to
And so we just want to, I guess, have things--you know, get
things in writing, you know, to say, okay, well, these parents
have done this. You know, there should be no reason why these
kids are waiting. So we need explanation on why we are waiting.
I think one thing that we have to do, we have to pay for
when the children come home. Our agencies have to come out and
do post-adoption and make sure that the kids are happy and we
are taking care of them and we are doing what we said we were
doing. And so then I asked our agency, I said, well, if we have
to do these things and we are paying for this service, why is
it a question to the other country? And then she says to me,
well, they never see the post-adoptions; that is only for the
So if there is any way that we can or the President can
make sure that all the post-adoptions that we are paying for,
all the pictures and the questions that are being asked, if we
are taking care of them, if they are happy, if they are
thriving, you know, can those countries, can DRC, can they have
that information? Is there any way that they can have that
information so that is not a question so that is one less thing
that we have to worry about?
Mr. Smith. Let me, if I could, Ms. Dempsey, you made a
point that adoptions have declined 69 percent over the last 9
years and that the Department of State has simply continued in
its primary role as gatekeeper instead of building a base of
child welfare and child protection expertise.
We know that Russia obviously cut off adoptions in 2012, so
included in that figure would be--you know, we still had
countries of origin that were willing to provide a means of
adopting children. That number, you know, a cynical take on
that would be that there might be a bias against adoption. What
is your take on that? Is it a lack of----
Ms. Dempsey [continuing]. Being cynical.
Mr. Smith [continuing]. Foreign Service Officers having too
On the child abduction case, parenthetically, and in a
parallel fashion, in hearings that I held here with the Office
of Children's Issues, a big question I would often ask is, what
do you do with the files? What kind of action, advocacy do you
take to make sure things actually happen, particularly when
there are obstacles strewn in the path of an adopting parent
or, in that case, an abducted child and a left-behind parent?
What do you do to really navigate that and make sure the
country is facilitating it with their government authority so
that, you know, children are protected but, you know, these
delays, interminable delays, are overcome?
Ms. Dempsey. We have seen a tremendous decline in the
number of adoptions. Part of that is attributable to the
sending countries' unilateral decisions, as we saw in Russia.
China has a concentrated effort to reduce the number of
adoptions, and it was a large sending country.
But we have also seen programs close for reasons that I
have already discussed. Similar to what we see in Ethiopia and
what we see in DRC, Nepal closed in 2010, and that was a
decision made by the Department of State and USCIS. Absent a
statutory mandate to do so, they suspended the processing of
adoptions, closing the door to hundreds, if not thousands, of
orphaned children based on suspicion.
I will tell you that that program closed under allegations
that all the children were trafficked. All 56 cases in the
pipeline at that time were investigated, and not a single one
of them had been trafficked. Every single one of them was a
legitimate orphan, and every single one of them now lives here
in the United States. We are now approaching the fourth
anniversary of the closure of that program, and it remains
And so I would say that there is a bias against
international adoption in the Department of State and that
child welfare and child permanency is not on the dance card of
the Office of Children's Issues. Instead, they are focused on
processing cases and doing so in a way that slows the process
for families and children.
Mr. Smith. Anything else?
Ms. Hunegnaw. Thank you. I just wanted to answer. We are
gathered here to talk about the Africa orphan crisis. It is a
crisis because millions of children are in this state now--and
I do personally agree, sincerely appreciate that inter-country
adoption may be one option to address this issue.
But in terms of looking at the magnitude of this crisis,
Save the Children believes in looking at a systemic approach to
this, focusing on families, and especially in Africa, where
kinship care is the system and the custom. What we focus on is
what is in the best interest of the child and how we prepare
these families, who are already overstretched, from meager
resources to care for an additional child, an additional family
member in their families.
So I would like to just highlight again those two focus
areas that I have made in my earlier comment that resources--
Congressman, you mentioned about what kind of resources are
needed. I think protecting the commitment is very much
important. We do appreciate the commitment that is already
made, but protecting that commitment and increasing those
resources to help us support those families to protect the
children is very important, and also looking at the holistic
needs of those children, because of the magnitude that we have
in Africa today.
Mr. Smith. Thank you.
Ms. Jones, if I could ask you--first of all, thank you for
your service to the Air Force and to this country. As you point
out, 15 years, you are an Air Force family.
You point out that, ``My family and I are the solution, if
just for Ana Lei. We are willing, able, and ready to bring this
princess into our home to give her endless opportunities to
love, communicate, share her dreams, fears, and excitement.''
And you talk about the hearing impairment and how, you know,
you want to make the difference in her life to really help her
Has that impairment grown worse? If you could elaborate on
that. Because delay is often denial, and even though she is not
as young as some others who are adopted, when it comes to a
medical or any other condition, delay can mean further
impairment that does not get turned around.
So if you could just speak to that issue, and anyone else
who would like to touch that--again, the idea that if the care
is not being provided and your home is ready, willing, and able
to provide it, that seems to be a huge setback for the child.
Ms. Jones. Yes. As I mentioned, you know, she is deaf. And
the orphanage there has a school within walking distance, and
these children are learning English and they are learning basic
skills just so that they can have some type of skill. And so,
for her, she doesn't have that option.
We don't get updates of how great she is doing. The only
time we get an update is when we get invoiced when she is sick
with malaria or she has a toothache that needs to be paid for.
So those are the only updates that we get.
Our agency let us know, when we bring our home, she will be
on the developmental level of an 18-month-old. Even though she
is 5 on paper, we believe she is about 7, but there is--I want
to say there is no hope for her. She understands how to walk,
talk, and use--I mean, walk, use the bathroom, and gesture of
what she wants but cannot fully communicate.
We send picture books over, and we have pictures of her
looking at our family book and videos, but she has no clue.
When she waves--she repeats what she sees. And she would wave
the whole video until someone takes her hand and put it down.
And she just has this look of, ``I don't know what is going
on,'' you know?
So she needs to be home so that she can begin to express
herself and let us know what her needs, her wants are. And she
is just not getting that there.
Mr. Smith. Yes?
Ms. Dempsey. I would just like to add, with respect to the
children who are ill and life-altering conditions, life-
threatening conditions, the DGM recently announced last week
that they would not consider the medically fragile cases
anymore. And the Department of State's response to these
families was, too bad, you just need to sit and wait until the
suspension is lifted.
And I would expect more urgency from them. On behalf of
these children, on behalf of these families, I would expect
them to say, we are going to be doing everything in our power
to change or reverse this decision so that more children don't
I know I don't need to remind you, but I want to say again
for the record that children are dying during this wait.
Children who have families here ready to provide for them are
perishing needlessly. And we need our Government to act with a
sense of urgency.
Mr. Smith. Your point has been very well-taken.
And you said you have knowledge of at least 10----
Ms. Dempsey. Yes.
Mr. Smith [continuing]. Who have passed away, for whom that
would have not have been the case?
Ms. Dempsey. Yes, sir.
Mr. Stockman. I would just thank you for coming out. I
appreciate it. And it has opened my eyes. But anybody that has
worked with the DRC on any level, including humanitarian aid,
it is a challenge. And I think the chairman and I will be
dedicated to making sure that this hopefully will be resolved.
Mr. Smith. Yeah.
Just one question, Ms. Dempsey, you might be able to
answer. What part of the Department of State addresses
international child welfare and protection?
Ms. Dempsey. I am not aware of any part of the Department
of State that addresses child welfare and child protection,
which I think is a fundamental flaw.
Mr. Stockman. Who is the--you said you talked to Department
of State. Do you want to tell us after the hearing who that
Ms. Dempsey. I will tell you in the hearing.
Mr. Stockman. Okay.
Ms. Dempsey. I am talking to the Office of Children's
Issues. The primary communications are coming from the desk----
Mr. Stockman. Okay.
Ms. Dempsey. She is simply the messenger.
Mr. Stockman. Yeah.
Ms. Dempsey. But it is coming from the Office of Children's
Issues and the Embassy in Kinshasa.
Mr. Stockman. The Embassy. Okay. Thank you.
Mr. Smith. Anything you would like to add before we
conclude the hearing? And, perhaps, in that, if you would like
to, if Susan Jacobs was sitting here rather than down at her
office, what would you say? And, again, we will convey your
testimonies to them in the spirit of encouragement and part-
admonishment, but if there is anything you would like to say
before we close?
Ms. Dempsey. I would just like to thank you sincerely for
the opportunity to appear today and to share this information
with you all and for all that you have done already for the
children in need and all that you are committing to do going
forward. The crisis can't be solved today, but it needs to be
solved, and we need to be working toward that.
With respect to Ambassador Jacobs, I welcome the
opportunity to sit with her and to discuss these issues with
her and to help the Department of State do their job better. I
have been rebuffed in my personal----
Mr. Smith. Did you say rebuffed?
Ms. Dempsey. Yes, when I have offered to share my learnings
And so I would ask--what I would like to know from the
Department of State is why they are doing 100-percent field
investigations, in what number of cases are they finding
fraud--my guess is it is a very small number--what amount of
resources they need to be more effective in doing their job,
and why they are not advocating with a sense of urgency on
behalf of these families.
Mr. Smith. Thank you.
Ms. Hunegnaw. I also want to thank you for this
opportunity. And I would like to say that Save the Children
would be happy to be a partner with the subcommittee or your
staff to help them work on this issue. Thank you for the
Mr. Smith. Thank you.
Ms. Jones. And I would like to thank you, too, for the
opportunity to be the voice not only for my child but for the
other adoptive moms and dads and parents out there that are
ready to bring their children home.
Mr. Smith. Ms. Muntemba?
Ms. Muntemba. Thank you for the opportunity. And I look
forward to continuing discussions and broaden help for African
orphans, of AIDS especially, and for children in conflict
And, one of these days, I would like to really say, how are
you going to help us beyond adoption? Because, really, the need
is great out there.
Mr. Smith. No, I hear you.
Ms. Muntemba. And maybe, as Congresspeople, you can help
push for that help to come from the U.S., the USAID and
national country offices, and maybe we can get more help that
Mr. Smith. That point is well-taken.
And the larger scope of the hearing today, again, we would
have loved to have had the Office of Children's Issues here,
and we will make that request again. But Nancy Lindborg, who is
a very competent and very effective person with whom I
personally and this subcommittee in toto have had a very good
working relationship with, she is very committed, as is her
staff, on that larger issue that you mentioned, which is why I
opened up with the first 1,000 days of life as being absolutely
transformative for the next 30,000 days of that child into
adulthood, individual person.
And if it doesn't start in the womb, the susceptibility to
malaria and a host of other diseases is greater, the immune
system is far less efficacious in fighting off diseases than if
you start while he or she is still an unborn child. And that
needs to grow exponentially in Africa, in Latin America,
elsewhere, Asia, and this country as well.
So I would like to thank--Steve, if you have any further
comments? Or are we----
Mr. Stockman. No.
We just have a great chairman, that is all. It is
Mr. Smith. Well, we will follow this up with a part two,
and we will invite Ambassador Jacobs, or her designee, but I do
hope she will come, especially to hear, you know, testimonies
the likes of which we heard today. But we will give her your
testimonies, as well.
So thank you.
And the hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 5:10 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Record
Material submitted for the record by Ms. Muluemebet Chekol Hunegnaw,
senior director, Monitoring & Evaluation and Knowledge Management
Program Quality and Impact Department, International Programs, Save the
Material submitted for the record by Ms. Kelly Dempsey, general counsel
and director of advocacy and outreach, Both Ends Burning
Material submitted for the record by the Honorable Christopher H.
Smith, a Representative in Congress from the State of New Jersey, and
chairman, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights,
and International Organizations