Sunday, December 20, 2009

MEDIA: Minnesota couple caught up in apparent adoption fraud

For many years, Rajeev Agarwal handled Indian & Nepali adoptions for Crossroads. More recently, he has been working for International Family Services (a Texas agency).


Minnesota couple caught up in apparent adoption fraud:

A Minnesota couple were excited to become parents of sisters from India -- until they made a shocking discovery that raises questions about the U.S. effort to stop international adoption fraud.

By David Shaffer, Star Tribune

Last update: December 19, 2009 - 11:30 PM

In court papers that paved her way to Minnesota, Komal is described as a 12-year- old girl from northern India, eligible for adoption in the United States.

She liked to assemble puzzles and briefly attended fifth grade, but the 112-pound orphan displayed a violent streak that soon left a Mayer, Minn., couple wondering if they were told the truth about the two Indian siblings they spent $30,000 trying to adopt.

Within months of their arrival, and before the adoption became final, Komal confessed: She was 21. Her younger sister, Shallu, admitted she was 15, not 11 as advertised. The sisters said they were told to lie about their ages and backgrounds by orphanage officials and an India-based representative for Crossroads Adoption Services of Edina, which handled the failed placements.

At 21, Komal wouldn't have been a candidate for adoption. In fact, she wouldn't have qualified for an orphan visa to the United States. Under the rules, foreign children must be under 16 for adoption proceedings to begin.

Maria Melichar, who once hoped Komal and Shallu would become part of the family she and her husband, Carl, are raising, said Komal's rights were grossly violated.

"To adopt her against her will, when she has a life, had an identity [and] she was an adult, is unthinkable," Maria Melichar said.

The sisters' lies reverberated halfway around the world, from a quiet farmhouse in Carver
County to a noisy orphanage in Chandigarh, India, raising fresh questions about an
international adoption treaty and the United States' commitment to investigate alleged
corruption in the orphan pipeline. During the past decade, adoption scandals have erupted in at least six countries, including India, sometimes shutting off the flow of children from those nations.

A U.S. immigration judge ordered the sisters sent back to India in July 2008 for visa fraud, after medical tests confirmed the age discrepancies. It appears to be the first time the U.S. government has expelled orphans under such circumstances, experts said.

The Melichars complained about the misrepresentations in 2007, but the organization that probes questionable adoptions for the State Department said it didn't hear about the case until this year. Even then, officials postponed the investigation for months.

The United States implemented the Hague Adoption Convention last year. The State Department handed the job of policing international adoption agencies to the nonprofit Council on Accreditation, which enforces the treaty's ethical standards. The reforms directly affect Crossroads and 13 other agencies in Minnesota, which has the highest rate of international adoptions in the United States.

Critics of the United States' commitment to the treaty say the Melichars' case shows the
government is not aggressively investigating adoptions that go wrong. "I can't understand why the U.S. government is moving so slow on these cases," said Arun Dohle, founder of the Belgium-based advocacy group Against Child Trafficking and author of a 2008 law review article on Indian adoption fraud.

Attorney Mark Solheim, who represents Crossroads, said the agency "never instructed any adoptive children to lie about their age." Over the past 33 years, Crossroads has successfully placed 3,500 children, including 500 from India, he said.

'It felt right'

In 2005, the Melichars decided to expand their family. They already had four children, including a girl adopted from India with Crossroads' help in 1993. The family lives on a farm once worked by Carl Melichar's parents next to Lake Berliner near Waconia.

"We were both getting older," said Maria Melichar, a nurse practitioner who is now 46. "If we were going to do it, that was the time."

"It felt right,'' added Carl Melichar, a wildlife painter who recently turned 58.

In February 2005, Maria contacted Crossroads and was told two Indian girls were available. Photos soon arrived showing a pair of pre-teen siblings. Maria and two daughters traveled to India in November 2006 to pick up Komal and Shallu at an orphanage about 170 miles north of New Delhi .

In India, the Melichars were assisted by Rajeev Agarwal, who was then Crossroads' representative there. Agarwal is a businessman who helps with paperwork and travel for foreign adoptions. An Austrian adoption agency paid him more than $300,000 in 2005 and 2006, according to Austrian attorney Eric Agstner, who reviewed the agency's books in an unrelated investigation.

Maria Melichar said she gave Agarwal $635 for expenses and another $1,000 in cash for
undisclosed purposes at the request of Crossroads' former director, Ann Sinnott.

Sinnott, who left the agency in 2007, said she doesn't recall the $1,000 payment. Agarwal, who also left Crossroads that year and is now working for a Texas adoption agency, denied receiving it.

After returning to Minnesota, the Melichars delayed taking steps to finalize the adoptions. Komal's behavior had them worried. She wouldn't eat meals with the family. She was defiant and aggressive, and often bullied and slapped her younger sister. She even threatened to kill Shallu, Maria Melichar said.

Though both girls spoke English, Komal sometimes spoke to Shallu in Hindi to undermine the Melichars' authority. One day, she threw all of Shallu's possessions out of their shared room.

Under pressure from her older sister, Shallu refused to do homework and once told the Melichars that "Komal likes it when I show bad behavior."

Despite Komal's increasingly violent temper, Maria Melichar said she and her husband didn't immediately suspect that they had been misled. Maria said she was more concerned that Komal "wasn't allowing us to parent her."

Maria said she didn't start wondering about the girls' ages until February 2007, when Shallu revealed that the sisters' birthdays fell on separate national holidays in India, an improbable coincidence. That prompted the first of several medical tests on the girls. Komal was moved from fifth to 10th grade when an X-ray exam suggested she was older than claimed.

In July 2007, Maria Melichar said, she decided to confront Komal with her suspicions. She said Komal finally admitted her age and said she wanted to go back to India. The sisters later told federal investigators that Agarwal, the Crossroads intermediary, falsified the ages. In an interview with the Star Tribune, Agarwal insisted that the girls' original birth dates are accurate.

To confirm the sisters' ages, the Melichars turned to two medical experts: Dr. Mansur Ahmad, a native of India and director of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, and Dr. Leah Willson, a pediatrician and adoption medical specialist at Hutchinson Medical Center in Hutchinson, Minn. Both experts agreed that the sisters are years older than their Indian records indicate, medical reports say.

While India has been criticized for changing children's ages to make them seem younger to adoptive parents, experts said a nine-year discrepancy is unusual.

The Melichars said they were misled about other important matters. They said the girls admitted that the photos sent to the Melichars in 2005 were actually taken years earlier, and that they had different fathers, contradicting information from Crossroads. They also said they spent much less time in orphanages than claimed by Indian officials, and were separated from a younger brother.

Inquiries, but few answers

Living a lie took its toll on Komal, according to the Melichars, who believe her bad behavior is partly traced to her conflicted feelings.

Maria Melichar said Komal and Shallu were robbed of their "identity, human rights and

Komal and Shallu now live at a boarding school, an Indian official said. They could not be reached by the Star Tribune.

The Melichars claim that Crossroads put them in an impossible position as guardians of a resentful young adult who didn't wish to remain in the United States and who grew increasingly abusive in their household. They are suing the agency for fraud and negligence, seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

Solheim, the agency's attorney, said Crossroads had no basis to challenge the girls' ages, which were reviewed by Indian officials before the agency got involved with the children. He belittled the medical testing done on the Melichars' behalf, dismissing it as "junk science." He said the agency denies any wrongdoing, but he said privacy rules prevent him from commenting in detail on the case.

Poonam Sood, whose agency runs the Chandigarh orphanage where the sisters once lived, admitted that an Indian medical review revealed that the girls are older than their records indicate, but she maintained that her organization did not provide any false records.

The sisters' return to India in 2008 prompted an Indian government review of the failed
adoption. J.K. Mittal, chairman of India's adoption oversight agency, said that the investigation isn't finished, but that no fraud has been found.

In the United States, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation concluded that the sisters' visas had false ages, but agents didn't examine the actions of Crossroads or others. The Melichars' complaint about the agency wasn't considered when the Council on Accreditation reviewed Crossroads to see if it met ethical guidelines under the Hague Treaty. If the agency failed the review, it wouldn't be allowed to pursue adoptions in 77 treaty countries. Crossroads was approved in April 2008.

Last month, U.S. officials decided that the Melichars' complaint could be investigated under the Hague treaty -- a delay blamed on a lengthy State Department jurisdictional review.

"Our concern would be whether or not this adoption service provider [Crossroads] knew or should have known that someone in its employ was involved in falsifying records," said Richard Klarberg, president and chief executive of the New York-based monitoring group.

Sanctions for violating treaty standards could include losing the right to arrange adoptions in treaty countries like India.

In Minnesota, state regulators cited Crossroads for failing to act on the Melichars' complaint. The Minnesota Human Services Department, which regulates adoption agencies, said Crossroads now must respond to the family -- or face possible penalties. On the fraud allegations, the department found no violations of state adoption regulations, but suggested that federal agencies have jurisdiction because it is an international adoption matter.

David Shaffer • 612-673-7090

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, December 7, 2009

MEDIA: Foreign Embassies Request Improvements in Adoptions from Nepal

Embassies push for transparency in adoptions



KATHMANDU, Dec 7: Embassies of 12 countries entertaining inter-country adoptions from Nepal have jointly asked the government to ensure transparency and meet international standards while processing inter-country adoption cases.

The embassies passed their concerns in the form of a note verbale (a diplomatic memorandum) to the government via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 24 after they found that the "inter-country adoptions from Nepal were not meeting international standards and practices determined by the Hague Convention". The convention says that adoption should take place in the best interest of the children.

"The group offers its support and urges the Government of Nepal to strengthen the beneficial cooperation with the Hague Conference [Hague Convention], e.g. to ensure that internationally recognized standards and practices," reads the note verbale possessed by from its sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Submitted by the German Embassy on behalf of the countries on inter-country adoption, the note verbale was initially issued by Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Later, France, Italy and Spain also signed on it. Australia, Canada and the US have also supported it.

A diplomatic source told that the embassies are particularly concerned over lack of a central authority with responsibility to ensure that inter-country adoptions met international standards and the lack of laws on a par with the convention.

"We also agree [with the countries] that the inter-country adoptions are not taking place as per the international standards. There should be a central authority to see the inter-country adoption," said advocate Upendra Keshari Neupane, who is also an executive committee member of Child NGO Federation.

The embassies have also asked the government to make public the number of adoptable children, their age and sex and the organizations they are staying in. They have also sought information on the status of adoptable children -- voluntarily waived or orphans.

The countries entertaining inter-country adoption from Nepal, diplomatic sources said, are concerned over the rise in the number of adoptable children after the resumption of the inter-country adoption in 2009.

"The number of adoptable children dropped when adoption was suspended in 2007. But we have noticed a sudden rise in the number of such children in child homes and orphanages after the inter-country adoption was resumed in January 2009. How such children´s homes and orphanages see decrease in the number of children when the adoption was stopped and rise when the adoption was resumed?" the source asked.

The countries are also concerned over the representation of the Child NGO Federation in the Recommendation, Investigation and Monitoring Committee at the Ministry of Social Affairs that is responsible for investigating the facts about any children before granting approval for adoption.

"International standards require that there should be no representation of a federation of child NGO that also represents children´s homes and orphanages involved in inter-country adoption," said another diplomatic source.

But advocate Neupane, who represents the federation in the committee, said, "Only the individual who is not involved in inter-country adoption is sent to represent the Child NGO Federation in the committee."

In the note verbale, the embassies have also questioned the existence of two different committees to match a foreign family for any adoptable child. Advocate Neupane agreed that the works of the matching committee have not been transparent.

Similarly, the countries are also doubtful that the paper works on the situation of adoptable children might be fake. They have also expressed concern over deprival of foster care, kinship and domestic adoption to children at child homes and orphanages. "To encourage domestic adoption, the existing laws should be amended," said Neupane, who is also the President of Democratic Lawyers´ Association.

Published on 2009-12-07

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nepal -- a few simple reforms

Nepal -- a few simple reforms

A few simple reforms would go a long way to cleaning up Nepal's adoption corruption:

1 -- Ban abandonment paperwork.

2 -- Enact a modern relinquishment law with a mandatory DNA test.

3 -- Implement the Hague Convention.

4 -- Close the worst children's homes. In particular, the homes blacklisted by the French Foreign Service:

5 -- Remove the Child NGO Federation Nepal (CNFN) from the Investigation, Recommendation & Supervision Board.

With these changes, Nepal would have a reasonable chance for an ethical adoption system.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Canadian bureaucrats strand B.C. parents in Nepal with adopted daughter

Dr. Salima Shariff, a Surrey cardiologist, feeds the baby that she and her husband, Aziz Nurmohamed, went to Nepal to adopt.

Photo -- Dr. Salima Shariff, a Surrey cardiologist, feeds the baby that she and her husband, Aziz Nurmohamed, went to Nepal to adopt.

A Surrey, B.C., cardiologist is stranded in Nepal with her newly adopted child while she waits anxiously for Canada to issue documents so she can bring her daughter home and return to her busy practice.

Dr. Salima Shariff appealed to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney for help this week, saying she is in a critically difficult situation, torn between her responsibilities as a new mother and a physician whose services are in great demand.

“I have a duty and obvious attachment as a new mother to my 14-month-old dependent adopted infant in Nepal and professional duties and responsibilities to my patients and colleagues as a cardiologist in Canada,” wrote Shariff, who has been in Nepal for the past two months.

"I am pleading with you to look into my case with compassion and understanding."

Shariff and her husband, Aziz Nurmohamed, left Canada on Sept. 17 after receiving word from a Victoria-based adoption agency that was guiding them through the process that the paperwork was all but complete and they should prepare to claim their new toddler.

Canada was in the final stages of issuing a permanent residency visa, Shariff was told. But shortly after she and her husband took custody of their little girl on Oct. 5 as legal parents, they got the bad news: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) had not yet recognized the Nepali adoption process.

They were stunned, as was the adoption agency that had helped them and Shariff’s colleagues at Surrey Memorial Hospital.

“She did everything by the book,” Dr. Sally Barrio said in an interview Thursday. “She followed the rules to the T, but she’s been caught in this bureaucratic thing.”

The most difficult part is that no one has told her what needs to be done to clear the way for their return to Canada, or how long it will take, Shariff says in the four-page letter.

Cheryl Fix, executive director for Choices Adoption and Counselling, said the adoption process was progressing smoothly for Shariff until this month. She said she doesn’t understand the delay in Canadian approval, especially given that the United States gave a green light to Nepali adoptions this fall.

“I would assume that the U.S. has equal due diligence. . . . If they’re satisfied, I’m a bit perplexed why we aren’t.”

Political instability has made Nepali adoptions high-risk, Fix acknowledged, and all adoptions were halted for some time because of concerns about child trafficking. But they reopened at the start of the year and Fix’s agency was one of two in Canada that were accredited.

The Vancouver Sun requested an interview with Kenney but was referred to the CIC office in Vancouver.

Shariff was profiled in a local newspaper a few years ago, which noted that she chose to work in Surrey after graduating with a cardiology fellowship at the University of B.C., despite being courted by the prestigious Mayo Clinic.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Nepali adoptions -- the French warnings

Nepali adoptions -- the French warnings.

In recent years, the French Foreign Service has posted warnings about four adoption homes --
Nepal Children Welfare Service Center (NCWSC), Swastik Women and Children Protection Organization (SWCPO), Nepal Children's Organization (NCO -- also known as Bal Mandir or Balmandir), and the Children Welfare Home (CWH).

This sort of public blacklisting of children's homes is quite unusual.

The warnings date from 2004 to 2007. The same individuals are still in charge of the homes.

Adopting families should use the utmost caution in using any agency that supports these organizations or works with present or former employees of these homes.

The French warnings:

2007 --
Nepal Children Welfare Service Center (NCWSC -- also known as Nepal Children Welfare Service Centre):

2006 --
Swastik Women and Children Protection Organization (SWCPO) & Nepal Children's Organization (NCO -- also known as Bal Mandir or Balmandir):

2004 --
The Children Welfare Home (CWH -- also known as Children's Welfare Home):

Google Language Tools:

The Children Welfare Home is run by two of the most controversial figures in Nepali adoptions.

Jaya Ram Tamata:

And his wife --
Maya Sunar Tamata:

While the Nepal Children Welfare Service Center (NCWSC) is run by the equally controversial
Anil Kiran B.K. (Anil Kiran Biswokarma):


NCO/Bal Mandir:


The Children Welfare Home:


NCWSC -- 29 March 2007

L’attention des familles en procédure individuelle d’adoption en cours au Népal est appelée sur la décision du Ministère népalais des Femmes, de l’Enfance et de la Condition Sociale, de suspendre l’instruction des dossiers de demande d’adoption déposés auprès de l’orphelinat « Nepal Children Welfare Service Center ».

Cette décision des autorités népalaises fait suite à la mise en évidence d’irrégularités majeures dans le traitement des dossiers d’adoption par cet établissement qui fait actuellement l’objet de poursuites judiciaires.

En conséquence, il est formellement déconseillé aux familles ayant une procédure d’adoption en cours auprès de l’orphelinat « Nepal Children Welfare Service Center » d’effectuer un déplacement au Népal.

La Mission de l’Adoption Internationale tiendra les familles adoptantes informées de l’évolution de la situation.

Swastik & Nepal Children's Organization -- 2 August 2006

En raison d’une succession de dossiers d’adoption problématiques, et après divers témoignages négatifs de familles adoptantes, il est formellement déconseillé aux familles candidates à une adoption au Népal d’effectuer des démarches auprès des orphelinats « Swastik » et « Nepal Children’s Organization », également dénommé « Bal Mandir ».

Les témoignages recueillis par l’Ambassade de France à Kathmandou font en effet état de sollicitations financières inacceptables, de grande opacité et de lenteurs inexpliquées dans le déroulement des procédures d’adoption menées auprès de ces orphelinats.

Compte tenu du contexte actuel des adoptions au Népal, les familles candidates à une adoption dans ce pays sont invitées à observer la plus grande vigilance dans la conduite de leur procédure.

The Children Welfare Home -- 16 November 2004

Adoption internationale

Les familles candidates à une adoption au Népal sont instamment invitées à consulter le site Internet de la Mission pour l’Adoption Internationale située au 244, boulevard Saint-Germain, 75007 Paris, tél - 01 43 17 90 90 - fax 01 43 17 93 44.

Une fiche sur le Népal y décrit les conditions d’adoption et les modalités pratiques de la procédure d’adoption.

Les familles désireuses d’adopter un enfant au Népal et répondant aux critères de sélection établis par les autorités népalaises peuvent prendre contact avec l’un des orphelinats agréés mentionnés dans la fiche de la MAI ou contacter l’Oeuvre de l’adoption-Comité de Marseille

Toutefois, l’Ambassade de France déconseille le recours à l’orphelinat « Children’s Welfare Home ».

Les services consulaires de l’Ambassade de France à Katmandou interviennent à deux reprises au cours de la procédure :

- Lorsqu’un enfant a été choisi par l’orphelinat pour une famille, celle-ci se déplace au Népal pour initier la procédure d’adoption. L’Ambassade, à qui l’agrément de la famille est déjà parvenu, lui délivrera alors une lettre de garantie destinée aux autorités népalaises. Les adoptants devront se présenter à l’Ambassade avec leurs passeports et une photographie d’identité de chacun d’entre eux et de l’enfant. Dans le cas d’un couple dont l’un des membres se présente seul, il devra se munir auparavant d’une procuration établie en France.

- Une fois la procédure d’adoption terminée, soit au moins deux mois plus tard, la famille adoptante retourne à l’Ambassade solliciter une demande de visa pour la France pour l’enfant.

Dernière minute (mise à jour le 16/11/2004)

Les adoptions au Népal ont repris depuis le 16 novembre. Elles étaient de fait suspendues depuis un mois, en raison d’un projet de réforme des règles de l’adoption, finalement reporté.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Post Placement Reports

PEAR has received inquiries from prospective and newly adoptive families concerning post placement requirements for adoption from Nepal. Adoption agencies offering programs in Nepal vary widely with regard to information on this subject. Stated requirements range from no reports, to annual reports during the first two years post placement, to annual reports until the child is 18. The Nepal Country Specific page on the DOS website states that there are no placement requirements for Nepal.

We have researched this information with the Nepal government and adoption agencies and have confirmed that Nepal requires annual post placement reports until the child reaches majority. The exact wording is:

"Every alien having adopted a Nepali child after obtaining approval from the Ministry pursuant to these Terms and Conditions and Process shall be required to send once a year through the concerned listed organization or agency or Nepal based embassy of his/her country and, in its absence, the embassy looking after Nepal the statement relating to the maintenance, education and health of such child and recently taken post-card size photograph of the child, until s/he attends majority as per the law of the concerned country."

Notification of The Government of Nepal Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare Terms and Conditions and Process for Granting Approval
for Adoption of Nepali Child by Alien, 2008, Chapter 7 Paragraph 17(3)
(for a downloadable version of the Terms and Conditions, please see: )

PEAR has requested that the DOS update the Country specific page for Nepal to reflect the requirements as promulgated by the Nepal government. We also wish to suggest that adoption agencies offering Nepal programs update the information they provide to clients and the general public to properly reflect the Nepal requirements with respect to post placement reports.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nepal’s adoption process to be examined

Nepal’s adoption process to be examined

The Kathmandu Post:

KATHMANDU, NOV 03 - In a bid to take stock of Nepal’s inter-country adoption process and extend possible technical and financial support, a delegation of the Hague Conference’s permanent bureau will arrive on a week-long visit to the country on Nov. 23.

Officials at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare said that Jennifer Degeling, secretary at the Permanent Bureau, Hague Conference, will lead the delegation.

During her stay in the country, she will examine the existing inter-country adoption process and assist the government in fulfilling requirements needed for the Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption.

This is the first time representatives of the Hague Conference are visiting the country after Nepal signed the Hague Convention, an international agreement between participating countries on the best adoption procedures, in April. The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption is an international agreement to safeguard inter-country adoption. The guidelines and procedures that are set forth in the Hague Convention are also for the protection of biological as well as adoptive parents.

A part of the Convention’s guidelines ensures that one central authority is in place in each country so that adoptive parents get accurate information regarding adoption.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

US Embassy in Kathmandu Not Conducting Preinvestigations

On September 29, 2009, the DOS issued an Adoption Notice for Nepal that contained the following statement:

"As part of required processing for orphan adoption cases, the Embassy conducts a thorough investigation of each case. Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that the investigation process may take several months, which could mean that prospective adoptive parents who travel to Nepal before the investigation is completed will need to spend a significant amount of time in country."

Some US adoption agencies and prospective adoptive parents interpreted this statement to mean that the Embassy would be conducting pre-investigations and completing the investigation prior to the family traveling to Nepal. PEAR contacted both the US Department of State, Office of Children's Issues and US Embassy in Nepal for clarification on the statement. According to both the Office of Children's Issues at the Department of State and the Adoption Unit at the US Embassy in Nepal, visa investigations commence after the final adoption decree and no pre-investigations are occurring at this time.

PEAR has been in continued discussions with the DOS to change the Adoption Notice to correctly reflect the process in order to avoid confusion and misinterpretation. At this point, the DOS and US Embassy are consulting on the proper wording for the Notice.

We will update with any further information as we receive it.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

IMPORTANT UPDATE: USCIS I 600 and I 600a Processing

The USCIS sent out the following news release on October 6, 2009:

USCIS Update: Change of Filing Location for Form I-600 and I 600A

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced a new address for prospective adoptive parents to submit Form I 600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, and Form I 600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition. While the change takes affect today, applicants have a 30-day transistion period before USCIS will return incorrectly filed petitions.

Applicants were previously required to file at a local USCIS field office. The Direct Mail Program allows USCIS to process applications more efficiently by eliminating duplicative work, and maximizing staff productivity.

Beginning today, applicants in the United States, who are filing to adopt an orphan, must submit Forms I 600, I 600A, and all supporting documents and fees to the following address:

Regular Mail:

P.O. Box 299027
Lewisville, TX 75029

Express Mail and Courier Service deliveries:

ATTN: Hague
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business, Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

USCIS will forward incorrectly-filed Forms I-600A and I-600, application fees and supporting documents to the Lewisville, Texas facility for the 30 days, until Friday November 6, 2009. Forwarded applications will be considered properly filed when received at the Lewisville, Texas facility.

Beginning Monday November 9, USCIS will return to the applicant any Form I 600 or I 600A, and supporting documents, incorrectly submitted to a USCIS office in the United States. The applicant will be instructed to mail the application to the Lewisville, Texas address. However, applicants may continue to file extensions of approved Forms I-600A at their local USCIS field office. More information is availible on the revised form instructions.

Prospective adoptive parents, who reside abroad, may continue to file the Form I-600A with a USCIS international office, or they may send the petition to the Lewisville, Texas address if they have an address in the United States they plan to return to.

U.S. citizens outside the United States may continue to file the Form I-600 at a U.S. Embassy, U.S. Consulate or USCIS office abroad that has jurisdiction to accept the petition. However, in order to file a Form I-600 petition abroad, the petitioner must have an approved Form I-600A and be physically present in the country where they are filing.

The I-600A and I-600 form instructions have been updated to reflect the new filing locations. They are be available under the "Forms" section. The forms are also available by calling the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit

Tiny URL:

PEAR has contacted USCIS to confirm the address for Express Mail and Courier Service Deliveries being labeled "ATTN: Hague". We will update when we receive an answer.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DOS Adoption Notice: Nepal

Nepal Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues

September 29, 2009

On January 1, 2009, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW) announced procedures for processing adoptions pursuant to the Government of Nepal’s (GON) new “Terms and Conditions” for adoptions. The initial announcement stated that only 10 applications will be processed from each Embassy, Mission, or approved Agency in 2009. The GON provided copies of the new requirements, to all approved agencies.

According to Nepali officials, the new requirements apply to all intercountry adoptions. There is NO provision to permit prospective adoptive families who had already begun an adoption to be “grandfathered” under the previous Nepali regulation. All but one of the prospective adoptive parents matched with children under the previous system relinquished the match so the children could be available for adoption under Nepal’s new Terms and Conditions. Some of these children have since been matched with new prospective adoptive parents.

On September 2, 2009, the Nepali Prime Minister appointed a new minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare. This minister has authority to sign final adoption decrees. Since then, under its new “Terms and Conditions,” the GON has granted adoptions to U.S. families in four cases. As a result, these families have now approached the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu to complete their processing under U.S. law. The GON has also indicated that they will likely process several more adoption cases for U.S. families in October and that approximately two dozen additional case referrals have been sent to U.S. families. The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu continues to meet with GON officials and is working with the Office of Children’s Issues to provide timely public updates.

As part of required processing for orphan adoption cases, the Embassy conducts a thorough investigation of each case. Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that the investigation process may take several months, which could mean that prospective adoptive parents who travel to Nepal before the investigation is completed will need to spend a significant amount of time in country.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

News Article on Adoption in Nepal - 3 Nepali kids set to land in US

3 Nepali kids set to land in US

http://www.kantipur kolnews.php? nid=213888

Kantipur Report

KATHMANDU, Sept 9 - After a gap of one and half years three Nepali children are all set to land in the U.S with their new adoptive parents. This was made possible for three orphaned girls —Anita Himali, Anisha Sai and Santi Sai — after the government approved their documents related to inter-country adoption.

The adoptive mothers are Bonnie Lee Donohue of Wisconsin, Michelle Kyla Blanchard-Roma of Louisiana and Dr. Teryl Rae Elam of Alaska.

Donohue, who is a general manager in the food service sector, has been matched with three-year-old Himali, Blanchard-Roma, who is a reputed Louisiana-based attorney, has been matched with two-year-old Anisha, and reputed Alaska-based physician, Elam has been matched with nearly one-year-old Santi.

The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW) has informed the Nepali representatives of the US adoption agency about the decision, calling the adopting mothers to take their daughters as per their convenience, according to officials at MWCSW.

This will be the first batch of Nepali children to go abroad with their new parents after seven months of adoption process.

At least 18 dossiers, on which almost all the necessary paperwork for the adoption is complete, are also awaiting final approval from the MWCSW. Over 100 dossiers of children, who are already gone through matching process (in which adoptive parents are paired with orphans), are also pending due to a delay in arranging a meeting of the recommendation committee. The recommendation committee, comprising representatives from ministries of home, law and MWCSW, will make the final decision.

The committee selects children in accordance with the adoptive parents’ preferences. Likewise, applications of over 300 prospective foreign parents are under the scrutiny of MWCSW.

Earlier, the ministry had put the process on hold for one-and-a-half- years and started the process with new rules for adoption in January. This time, the prospective parents have to deal with registered adoption agencies from their home country or Nepal-based embassies. Earlier, they directly dealt with orphanages. As there was no fixed adoption fee, parents often ended up paying huge amounts for the baby of their choice.

The adoption fee for each child has been fixed at US$ 8,000 — which means that adoptive parents will not get overcharged. From the adoption fee US$ 5,000 will go to the orphanages and US$ 3,000 to the state coffers. The ministry has already collected over Rs. 15 million from the fee, part of which will be used to monitor the overall adoption process.

Posted on: 2009-09-09 00:36:36 (Server Time)

http://www.kantipur kolnews.php? nid=213888

Thursday, July 16, 2009

PEAR Surveys underway

PEAR invites all adoptive parents to take the PEAR Observational Survey of Adoptive Parents on Success, Satisfaction and Types of Post-Adoption Services (POSitive Study).

This survey is for those who have completed a domestic or international/inter-country adoption from any country. Whether your child has had virtually no issues or interventions or many, we would like your input!

This anonymous survey is in English. One survey would need to be taken per child. It will take between 20 and 40 minutes to complete depending on the amount of services you have used. The survey includes questions about adoption professional follow-up; financial and life insurance; International Adoption Clinic and medical doctor follow-up; early intervention services(US only); mental health/attachment services; faith-based services; school-based services; testing, therapies and at-home interventions.

We seek to address gaps in post-adoptive support and provide free information to adoptive parents. Starting in 2009, we will be sharing explanations of interventions and practical tips.

Our goal is to bring health care sectors together to solve the gaps brought to light in the survey. Ultimately, we want to recommend a healing roadmap that will have an interactive flowchart to assist parents in determining timing and types of interventions.

You can access our survey at the following link or go to our website at to access it there.

You will also find on our website a free, comprehensive listing of 128 international adoption doctors and other issues we are currently addressing. Click on the Files Pear

Parents for Ethical Adoption Reform's next post-adoption initiative will be creating and providing two new directories to the public in the fourth quarter of 2009. One will be a National Mental Health Provider Directory that will include licensed child/family therapists, camps, respite care facilities and therapeutic day and residential schools and programs that are known to work with adoptive families or have knowledge about adoption, institutionalization, and/or prenatal substance use issues.

The second one will be a National Therapist Directory which will include licensed therapists (such as occupational therapists, speech therapists, craniosacral therapists or others) that are known to work with adoptive families or have knowledge about adoption, institutionalization, and/or prenatal substance use issues.

Both will be updated quarterly.

We are inviting the public to suggest providers for which they have had experience. The following links each have 8 open ended questions to add basic contact information.

Mental Health Provider data collection link

Therapist data collection link

Or you can connect through our website at

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

RESOURCE: Adoption Buddy Program

International Adoption Resources, a Yahoo Group for prospective and adoptive families, offers an Adoption Buddy Program for those going through the international adoption experience. The Adoption Buddy Program matches prospective adoptive parents with experienced adoptive parents who can provide information, resources, and support through the adoption process. Prospective parents may chose to be matched with mentors who share the same country program, age range of children, family background, and/or faith experiences. The Adoption Buddy Program has been active for over three years and offers a positive, informative, and supportive adoption experience for prospective parents. Adoption Mentors receive educational materials and support from the program coordinators. Applicants for the IAR Adoption Buddy Program are thoroughly screened. Prospective and adoptive parents who wish to participate in the program must join the International Adoption Resources Yahoo Group at:

Disclosure note: International Adoption Resources Group is not affiliated with PEAR, however, the groups is owned and moderated by current PEAR board members Gina Pollock, Karen Holt and Pam Veazie. The Adoption Buddy Program is coordinated by Pam Veazie and Gina Pollock.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Invitation to our Readership

PEAR would like to invite all those interested in Nepal adoptions to participate in making this blog successful. Do you have a question or comment about adoptions from Nepal? Do you need to find information and resources? Do you need to find the truth to a rumor? Please let us help.

We invite those of you who wish to participate to send your questions, comments and concerns to us at

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Media: A long wait for adoptive parents Bureaucratic delays a hurdle in adoption of orphans

A long wait for adoptive parents Bureaucratic delays a hurdle in adoption of orphans
Kantipur Report KATHMANDU, July 3

Article addressing current delays in intercountry adoption from Nepal. Due to copyright issues, the full text cannot be reproduced here, please use the link below:

MOWCSW Notice May 17, 2009

The Ministry would like to draw attention of all concerned Embassies, Diplomatic Mission Adoption agencies, and Representatives relating to Inter Country Adoption on the followings:

  1. Information regarding the referral of Children will be only provided through those Embassy, Diplomatic Mission or Adoption Agency which have forwarded adoption dossiers to this Ministry.
  2. Information regarding those adoption dossiers - which are under process - will not be provided as per the decision of Government of Nepal.
  3. Telephone enquiry on the status of matching will not be entertained until and unless final decision on the child to be adopted will be made.
  4. Upon the submission of adoption dossier, the Ministry will verify the documents as per the "Terms and Conditions". Respective Embassy, Diplomatic Mission, adoption agency and local Representative will be notified for any incomplete / faltering documents.
  5. This Ministry assures that timely information will be provided to respective Embassy, Diplomatic Mission, Adoption agency, and local representative once the final authorization will be made on the child to be granted for inter country adoption.

DOS Adoption Notice

Adoption Notice

Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues


June 05, 2009

On January 1, 2009, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW) announced procedures for processing adoptions pursuant to the Government of Nepal’s (GON) new Terms and Conditions for adoptions. The initial announcement stated that only 10 applications will be processed from each Embassy, Mission, or enlisted Agency in 2009. Requirements have been provided to all approved agencies. According to Nepali officials, the new requirements will apply to all intercountry adoptions. There is NO provision to permit adoptive families who may have already begun an adoption to continue (be “grandfathered”) under the previous regulations.

On May 17, 2009, MWCSW stated that they will not provide any information on adoption cases in process until a final decision on the matching of a child is made. Information regarding referrals will only be provided to the Diplomatic Mission or the Adoption Agency that forwarded the dossier to the Ministry. For further details about this policy, please consult the MWCSW website.

Although Nepal announced the signing of the Hague Adoption Convention on April 30, 2009, Nepal has not ratified the Convention and it is not in effect at this time. Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that Nepal suspended intercountry adoptions in 2007 because of serious irregularities as well as credible claims of fraud and possible child-buying. It is not clear that the new adoption procedures will provide sufficient safeguards to ensure that intercountry adoption procedures will be transparent and will adequately protect the rights of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents. Although the government has announced that the MWCSW is prepared to begin processing intercountry adoptions, adoptive parents considering an intercountry adoption from Nepal should be aware that the current transition period likely will pose considerable delays and challenges as the Government of Nepal seeks to implement its new policies and regulations. The Embassy continues to seek clarification regarding these procedures and will post additional details as they are available.