Road block in Congo’s adoption process keeps Austin family from bringing home child

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Sherri Smetana loves her daughters just as she does her son, Henry, a boy Sherri adopted from the Congo last year. But nearly 12 months later, Henry has yet to officially join the Smetana family.

The Smetanas are one of hundreds of families waiting to bring their adopted child home.

A few months ago The Democratic Republic of Congo halted exit visas for adopted children, essentially blocking the children from leaving the country. Their government says it is increasing scrutiny after an American family reportedly used a falsely backdated letter.

“I just remember his little face for the first time,” Sherri said. “I just remembers putting my hands on his little chest and crying and I literally feel my heart just explode.”

Even though their documents are in order, Sherri can’t get an ‘exit letter’ from the Government in Congo, the last piece of paper needed to fly Henry home.

“It’s very hard emotionally to try to figure out when am I going to get him. When is he coming home?” Sherri said. “How am I supposed to take care of my girls too when they’re crying that their baby brother is never coming home.”

Sherri’s frustration with the system keeps her awake at night. Henry just turned one on April 2, but the Smetanas had to celebrate his birthday without him. He has already outgrown the tiny pieces of clothing they bought for him.

“He has a loving family that loves him and wants him,” added Sherri, “and he should be here.”

The Smetana’s say they won’t give up until Henry comes home.

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