One African government won't allow an East Tennessee couple to bring their adopted children back to the United States.
An East Tennessee couple joins a handful of others around the country fighting to bring their children home.
In Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo has suspended all exits for children adopted from that country. That rule change is leaving many parents in limbo, including a couple from Jefferson City with one parent stuck overseas.
With the help of an agency based out of Kentucky, Alana and Justin Carroll adopted two Congolese boys earlier this year, 3-year old Canaan and 2-year old Neema. The boys are legally the Carrolls' children, have passports and visas with the last name "Carroll," and are currently in their father's custody in Africa.
The problem is, Congolese authorities won't let the children -- who are still Congolese citizens -- leave the country.
"My husband went because we were on their list to get out," explained Alana from her Jefferson City home Monday night. "And then he gets over there and they say, 'No, we're not going to let your kids get the exit letter.'"
In a press release online, the U.S. State Department explains why the DRC has suspended exit permits. The release says Congolese authorities allegedly discovered some applications either falsified or fraudulently-obtained. Immigration officials have told families to expect a wait, and won't give a timeline.
The Carrolls have submitted all their paperwork, met all their deadlines, and paid all their fees. Justin left for Africa in late November, expecting a two-week trip. He's now been in DRC for more than five weeks.
His wife says, this is a power-play by a corrupt and dangerous country.
"It's a power-control thing over there, and so [DRC] is just putting their foot down and it seems like they make rules, and then they break their own rules and they make new rules," Carroll said. "And we're at their mercy, and we've done everything they've told us to do."
The family got one more addition to the family this year.
After about two years of failed attempts to have biological children, Alana found out she was pregnant just a few months before the adoptions were finalized.
"We were so excited and terrified and all the emotions at once," she said. "I wanted all of our kids to be close in age, and they will be!"
However, timing was not in their favor.
Their daughter, Carson Carroll, was born after Justin left to get her brothers from Africa. He's only seen his daughter in video chats online, just like Alana and her sons.
"[It's] just the emotional roller coaster," she said. "I think you have to be strong to do it. I'm not saying I'm the strong one, I'm saying God's provided that for us."
The Carrolls are working to recruit help as they and other families attempt to pressure the U.S. Embassy, which handles discussions with Congolese authorities. The couple has connected with several lawmakers, media outlets, and found additional support online and in their community.