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Austin Family Fights To Bring Son Home From DRC

Updated: Thursday, July 31 2014, 02:50 PM CDT

A Central Texas family is one of more than 800 American families caught in an international adoption struggle in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Smetana's have been fighting to bring home their son, Henry, who is stuck in Limbo after the DRC halted all international adoptions by suspending exit letters, which are necessary documents to take children out of the country.

Sherri Smetana said she spends day and night worrying about her son's safety and is heart-broken her family is missing out on the special memories.

But like any mom, Sheri has been busy putting together a new nursery for Henry. She's been stocking up on toys, blankets, and books, but 15-month-old Henry has never seen his nursery or worn the clothes he has been outgrowing.

The Smetana's, who already have two twin girls, officially adopted Henry from the Congo one year ago, and they have the paper work to prove it.

"That day was the day we became a family of five," Sherri said. "When we found out he was ours immediately my heart busted open, and when I saw that picture I was like there he is, there's our son, there's Henry."

Little did Sherri and her husband Andy know that those pictures would be the only way to watch their son grow-up.

In September 2013, they received devastating news that the Congo had halted all international adoptions. Ever since, little henry has been stuck in limbo and half a world apart from his adopted family.

"We didn't get to see his first steps, his first words, when we visited in March he was babbling," Andy said.  

While waiting in Africa in foster care, Sherri said Henry became dangerously ill with Malaria. It was painful news for the parents so far away and out of reach.

"For Henry he doesn't even know me. He doesn't know how much I love him. He doesn't know how I would do anything for him," Sherri said. "I ache to be with him, and I ache to care for him, and to hug him when he cries, and to hug him and to make that pain go away. He doesn't know that it's not because I'm not willing to be there; it's because the government refuses to allow him to come here."

So Sherri made a brave decision and bought a one way flight to the Congo to be with Henry until he is cleared to come home.

"I have to make the choice to be away from my girls, so I won't be there for them, and it's a tough choice for a mom to have to choose between her kids," Sherri said.

For now, the family waits and hopes Henry will come home in time to put his homemade Halloween basket to good use.

"I believe that we did all of this for Henry to be in this very room," Sherri said. "I believe he will be here very soon."

Families who are trying to being their adopted children home from the Congo are getting major support from Congress.

There is a petition circulating that is asking President Obama to persuade the Congo President to end the suspensions.

Click here for a link to the petition: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/please-call-democratic-republic-congo-president-kabila-end-suspension-adoptions/F3rtB79G

By Cassie Gallo

Austin Family Fights To Bring Son Home From DRC


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