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Rochester lawmaker shares struggle to get adopted son home from Africa

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Rochester lawmaker shares struggle to get adopted son home from Africa Rochester lawmaker shares struggle to get adopted son home from Africa
ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Nels and Nicole Pierson are sitting at their kitchen table, looking through family photos of a very special trip, a trip to meet their son in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It's a story that starts on May 16th, 2013. That's the day Nicole saw a picture of a 7 year old boy named Mardoche on a waiting child list. She knew when she saw his face, this child was her son.

Nicole reflects, "There was just something about his face. Even friends who saw the photo early on said there was something about him like our biological son, the characteristics, he had his hands in his pockets. It was the first time I realized being a child over the age of three is listed as a special needs child in terms of international adoption."

Nels and Nicole got busy completing a home study and all the paperwork to adopt Mardoche. He is now legally their son. The couple took their two biological children to Africa to meet their brother in August. That first meeting with nothing short of magic.

Nicole says, "It was one of the most overwhelming things ever. I can only liken it to when they lay your baby on you after you've given birth. I couldn't even think to get my camera fast enough and he and our son Nels shared this hug I will never forget for the rest of my life. They were just, they were brothers."

Nels says, "Immediately my son brought out Legos and they started playing together. He already seemed like a part of our family that we'd just been waiting a long time for."

The trip was bittersweet, because the Piersons couldn't bring Mardoche home with them. The Congolese government stopped issuing exit permits for adopted children in September of 2013. That ban is still in effect today with no indications of when or if it will be lifted. So Mardoche remains in his foster home in Kinshasa. And his family in Rochester spends every day waiting and hoping and wanting him here.

Nicole says, "You wonder what it would be like if he was here getting ready for school. Its hard for the milestones. His birthday this year was much harder than I thought it would be. We never thought ever that he wouldn't be home by now."

As a lawmaker, Nels believes in reaching out to those who make the laws."We want to draw some attention and see if some additional encouragement can be provided by our government."

And, speaking of encouragement, Nicole says it helps when friends ask about their son and if there are any new developments in bringing him home.

The Piersons aren't alone.

Hundreds of orphans in the DRC have been legally adopted by American families, but these children cannot come home until the ban on exit permits is lifted.

In August, Secretary of State, John Kerry, met with the president of the DRC to urge that these children be allowed to join their families.

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