United Kingdom to suspend adoptions from Nepal (order subject to Parliament's approval):
EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM TO
THE SPECIAL RESTRICTIONS ON ADOPTIONS FROM ABROAD
(NEPAL) ORDER 2010
2010 No. 951
1. This explanatory memorandum has been prepared by the Department for
Children, Schools and Families (“the Department”) and is laid before
Parliament by Command of Her Majesty.
This memorandum contains information for the Joint Committee on Statutory
2. Purpose of the instrument
The Special Restrictions on Adoptions from Abroad (Nepal) Order 2010 imposes a statutory suspension on the adoption of children from Nepal by British residents.
3. Matters of special interest to the Joint Committee on Statutory
4. Legislative Context
Section 9 of the Children and Adoption Act 2006 (“the Act”) enables
the Secretary of State to impose special restrictions on intercountry
adoptions from a country or territory outside the British Islands (the
other country) where the Secretary of State has reason to believe that,
because of practices taking place in the other country in connection
with the adoption of children, it would be contrary to public policy to
further the bringing of children into the United Kingdom by British
residents for the purposes of adoption or within 12 months of the
adoption in the other country.
Section 9(4) of the Act provides for the Secretary of State to declare by
order that special restrictions are to apply for the time being in relation
to a country or territory. Section 9 (5) requires the Secretary of State
to consult with the Welsh Ministers and the Department for Health,
Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland before such an
order is made.
The Secretary of State must publish reasons for declaring a country
‘restricted’ and a list of restricted countries (“the restricted list”).
These are to be published in whatever way he thinks appropriate to
bring them to the attention of adoption agencies (defined in section 2
of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 as local authorities and
registered adoption societies) and members of the public. Section 10 of
the Act requires the Secretary of State to keep each restricted country
under review to determine whether it should remain a restricted
country. The provisions in section 9 apply equally to adoptions from
countries in which the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of
Children and Cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoption (“the
Hague Convention”) is in force and those that are not. Nepal has
signed, but not yet ratified, the Hague Convention. As such, the Hague
Convention is not currently in force between Nepal and the United
Section 11(1) of the Act provides that the special restrictions in 9 (4)
are that the appropriate authority is not to take any step which that
authority might have taken in connection with furthering the bringing
of a child into the United Kingdom by a British resident for the
purposes of adoption or within 12 months of an adoption in that
country or territory. Annex A contains an outline of the intercountry
Section 11(2) of the Act permits the processing of cases involving
adoptions from countries that are the subject of an order under section
9(4) where the relevant authority (see 7.1 below) is satisfied that the
case should be processed despite the special restrictions.
Section 11(3) of the Act enables the Secretary of State to make
regulations providing for the procedure to be followed by the
‘appropriate authority’ or, as the case may be, the Secretary of State in
determining whether a case should be treated as an exception to a
general suspension and the procedure to enable this to be made. The
‘appropriate authority’ is defined in section 11(4) of the Act as
meaning (i) in a case under the Hague Convention, the central
authority in relation to England, to Wales or to Northern Ireland as the
case may be (i.e. the Secretary of State, the Welsh Ministers and the
Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in Northern
Ireland respectively) and (ii) in a non-Convention case, in relation to
England and Wales, the Secretary of State and, in relation to Northern
Ireland, the Secretary of State for the purposes of steps which he takes
and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety in
Northern Ireland for the purposes of steps which it takes.
Section 12(1) of the Act permits the Secretary of State to make
regulations providing for the imposition of extra conditions in certain
cases. The Adoptions with a Foreign Element (Special Restrictions on
Adoptions from Abroad) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/1807) have been
made under sections 11(3) and 12(1).
5. Territorial Extent and Application
This instrument applies to England and Wales and Northern Ireland.
6. European Convention on Human Rights
As the instrument is subject to the negative resolution procedure and
does not amend primary legislation, no statement is required.
7. Policy Background
The Special Restrictions on Adoptions from Abroad (Nepal) Order 2010
provides that special restrictions are to apply for the time being in relation
to the bringing of children into the United Kingdom from Nepal in the
cases mentioned in section 9(2) of the Act (see 4.1 above). This amounts
to a suspension of intercountry adoptions from Nepal as it prevents the
appropriate authority from taking any step which it might otherwise have
taken in processing such cases, unless it is satisfied that a case should be
treated as an exception. The main step in the process is the issue of a
Certificate of Eligibility confirming to the Nepalese authorities that the
prospective adopters have been assessed as suitable to adopt. Nepal is a
non-Hague Convention country and the Certificate is issued by the
Secretary of State in relation to English, Welsh and Northern Irish
The Order is being made in response to evidence in a report published by
the Hague Bureau in February 2010 following their Technical Assistance
mission to Nepal. The Report found that Nepal has insufficient procedures
in place to establish whether a child is adoptable. It also found evidence of
a lack of support for birth parents about the legal effects of relinquishing
their child for adoption and no procedures in place for the finding of a
permanent family in Nepal for the child. The specific areas of concern
• failure to adhere to the key principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, such as the complete absence of the principle of best interests of the child;
• an inadequate legal framework (despite recent legislation). The Report specifically recommends that Nepal suspend adoptions temporarily whilst it puts new legislation and improved procedures in place;
• falsification of documents;
• lack of transparency and accountability for the money brought into Nepal from intercountry adoptions.
In 2007, Nepal introduced a moratorium on intercountry adoptions whilst
it made changes to its processes, intended to resolve serious issues of
malpractice, and specifically the introduction of a new adoption act.
UNICEF subsequently collected information on intercountry adoptions in
Nepal and their findings published in 2008, were intended to assist Nepal
in improving its procedures and legal framework. The findings of the
UNICEF report were similar to those of the Hague Bureau’s Report.
Nepal reopened intercountry adoptions in November 2009, having
signed the Hague Convention in April 2009
The Hague Bureau’s technical support programme is to assist countries that wish to comply with Hague Convention standards. The Hague Bureau’s Report found that most of the problems identified by UNICEF in 2008 had not been resolved.
8. Consultation Outcome
The Special Restrictions on Adoptions from Abroad (Nepal) Order
2010 relates to the processing of intercountry adoption cases by the
Secretary of State, the Welsh Ministers or the Department of Health,
Social Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland and will
therefore impact primarily on central government rather than the public
or businesses, charity or the voluntary sector.
In accordance with section 9(5) of the Act, the Secretary of State has
consulted the Welsh Ministers and the Department of Health, Social
Services and Public Safety in Northern Ireland in relation to the
making of this Order. Both Welsh ministers and ministers in Northern
Ireland agree that a statutory suspension in this case is appropriate. The
Secretary of State has written to the Scottish Executive to inform them
of the making of the Order. The provisions of the Act do not extend to
Scotland but Scottish Ministers have similar powers under the
Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 to suspend intercountry
adoptions from a particular country.
The Department has also written to the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office and the Home Office. Their responses indicate that they support
A letter will be sent to all adoption agencies in England and Wales that
deal with intercountry adoptions to inform them of this Order. The
Department will include a note on its website informing prospective
adopters about the suspension and how it will affect both current and
We will write to the Nepalese Government to ask them how they
intend to respond to the to the Hague report and to notify them of the
The impact on the public sector of this change is minimal: some local
authorities, in their capacity as an adoption agency, process
intercountry adoption applications by applicants for approvals as
prospective adopters, but most such applications are processed by non-
profit making voluntary adoption agencies.
An impact assessment has not been prepared for the instrument
because the impact will be minimal. We are aware of less than ten
applications to adopt from Nepal made between 2007 and 2009.
11. Regulating small business
The Order does not impose an additional burden on small business.
12 Monitoring and Review
The Act requires the Secretary of State to keep under review whether a
country should continue to be on the restricted list. The Department
will do this through regular contact with Foreign Office officials in
Nepal and with international organisations such as the Hague Bureau.
Veronica Berti at the Department for Children, Schools and Families,
Tel: 0207 7340 7180 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to
answer any queries regarding the instrument.
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.