In the course of a lifetime, there is nothing more horrific than a parent having to bury their child, especially if the child's death could have been prevented. On August 4, 2014 Benjamin Chase Dillow died in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) under just such a circumstance. His parents did what no parent should ever have to do. They had to arrange his funeral and find the strength to say goodbye.
Unfortunately, they had to do this from their home in Kentucky.
Ben and his parents were separated not by choice, but by politics. Despite the fact Ben had been legally adopted, and his parents had secured his passport, and a US orphan visa issued by our Embassy, the Dillows could not get an exit letter from the DRC government to bring him home.
Instead of raising their son to live a life of promise and possibilities, the Dillows were forced to watch Ben's health deteriorate, helpless to intervene. Ben Dillow died without his parents by his side, and he died when he should have lived.
If tragedy is the place between reality and what might have been, Ben's death is the ultimate tragedy.
A few weeks ago Kelly Dempsey, General Counsel for Both Ends Burning, testified before Congress about the DRC adoption crisis, a true human rights crisis. She told them that 10 children had already died, and she warned them that more children would certainly die in the near term if a solution wasn't found. Unfortunately, she was right and unfortunately it is easy to predict others will die if something isn't done NOW. How has the world turned its back on these children?
Benjamin's family has written an open letter and I hope you read every word of it.
To Anyone That Will Listen:
In memory of our son Benjamin Chase Dillow
I write this letter imploring, pleading, no, begging that my son's death not be in vain. Benjamin deserved life, he deserved to be united with his family, but was denied that by the senseless suspension of exit permits. He was one of the many critically fragile children that have families waiting helplessly to bring them home.
Benjamin was critically ill but his doctors in the DRC knew and had stated that his health could be greatly improved with more advanced care offered in the US. His story could have been about the life of a young child that was given a chance, a hope of growing up with his brother and sister, a life of birthday parties, and first loves, graduations, memories with his loving family. But instead Ben's life ended because the DGM failed to see my son as a life. This orphaned boy was not worth the consideration to give him a chance at life. Benjamin's death should be a warning to the reality of this suspension.
When I look at the eyes of these other critically ill children, I see sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. These children have families that want to give them their home and hearts. We as parents want to hold our children, to comfort them while they are sick. We want to give them the care that they need and deserve, even if it's only to hold their hand during their last breath. My son passed away on August 4th at Mutumbo Hospital with his care taker by his side. As my son took his last breaths, he cried for his "Mama". I cannot tell you the pain of not being by his side; the pain of being helpless to do anything. Please do not let this happen to another child. Give my son's death meaning! Give these children a chance! Give them life!
Through Tearful Eyes,
Morgan and Grace Dillow
Please join us in our efforts. Visit our to learn more about this crisis at www.bothendsburning.org
Our ability to resolve issues like this is directly related to the number of people supporting our efforts on behalf of children who need families.