Violence in the Congo effects on adopted children


Havens Webster, Reporter

Violence in the Congo and the Effects on Adopted Children

By: Havens Webster


You may think that conflicts all the way over in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may not affect us, but here in Durango, Colorado we have two adopted Congolese twins, Natalie and Josee McKinnis. The 9 year olds had to be taken away from their families and homeland to be protected from the violence that many Congolese people face everyday.

According to BBC News,The war has claimed up to six million lives, either as a direct result of fighting or because of disease and malnutrition. The government has been no help in this matter because all they do is take the natural resources from the DRC that we use lots here in America, and sell them for their own personal gain.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has gone through many tragedies and conflicts over the years and there is no sight of recovery ahead. A conflict of ethnicities has torn the country apart and has forever changed the DRC, this conflict has also affected many innocent civilians that just happen to get caught up in the violence.

“The DRC didn’t know how to handle independence.” quoted Mrs. Lemmer. The Congo, once it gained independence from Belgian colonization, had lots of ethnicities which were randomly placed around the country. They didn’t have a solid infrastructure for a successful government, and their democratically elected President (Patrice Lumumba) was assassinated and then replaced by a dictator for decades. Government corruption doesn’t help, as elites take all of the DRC’s many natural resources, leaving common people to fend for themselves.

Those people affected in the DRC are not alone, for the children adopted and brought to Durango, Colorado, have been saved from the violence.

“Adopting from the DRC was a crazy and wild experience. It was also one of the best decisions we ever made as a family.” said Darren McKinnis, the father of a local family who adopted children from the DRC.

The McKinnis family adopted Natalie and Josee when they were only three years old. They say that this has been a crazy and fun journey for them, and they would do anything for those girls, although, one thing they can’t do for Natalie and Josee is take them back to their homeland to get back in touch with their families.

“The DRC is an amazing and beautiful place.” quoted Darren and Valerie McKinnis. The family goes on trips to the DRC for missionary aid and visitation so the girls can see their homeland, or at least something close to it. The family always has gone to the capital, Kinshasa, which is relatively peaceful due to the strict authoritarian measures of the DRC’s dictator, Joseph Kabila.

“They (the twins) desire to see their family, but they also trust our decisions in regards to traveling back to the Congo.” said the McKinnis’. The twins do wish to see their families but they know about the violence in the DRC and know that it is too dangerous for them to go back.

The twins were born on the eastern side of the DRC (where the violence is centered) and the McKinnis’ are guessing that they were displaced due to either poverty or conflicts, though still they get to experience the DRC on vacations.

Reading this story should show us Americans how peaceful our lives are and help us realize the dangers and conflicts others face that we are oblivious to. The Congolese people have faced many hardships for the past several hundred years. Unfortunately, according to the Global Conflict Tracker, the conflict status in the DRC is “worsening” which shows the years ahead for the DRC are not looking good.