Prospective parents try to get Nepal adoptions back on track
Ewa and Vincent Welland thought their prayers were answered last year when, after the death of their premature newborn son in 2001 and years of unsuccessful attempts at having children, their application to adopt a child was accepted by the government of Nepal.
In May, the Kamloops, B.C., residents were expecting to welcome home an orphaned Nepalese girl they have been calling “Pumpkin.”
But the Canadian government has halted all adoptions from Nepal after an international report released in February condemned that country’s adoption program.
The report from The Hague Conference on Private International Law recommended the international community cease adoptions from Nepal after learning that children from remote areas of the country had been falsely declared to be orphans and put up for adoption without their parents’ knowledge.
The report’s author, Hague secretary Jennifer Degeling, visited Nepal in late 2009 and found the falsification of documents about Nepalese children’s origins, age and family status was “occurring regularly in order to declare a child adoptable.”
The report from The Hague conference — which governs international adoptions — also cited “a lack of transparency and accountability for the money coming into Nepal (to the government and institutions) from intercountry adoptions.”
Ewa Welland acknowledged that adopting a child whose documents have been forged is a real concern in poverty-stricken countries like Nepal. But she feels it is the Canadian government’s responsibility to confirm the identities of the adopted children rather than cancelling all pending adoptions from the country.
“The problem is, I think, that Canada thinks that the adoptions are not transparent but it’s not willing to review the files to make sure that the children that are proposed to us are actually true orphans,” said Welland. “We are willing to pay someone to review the files, to scrutinize them, to make sure the children are orphans, but they just closed the program. It’s unfair.”
The Wellands are among several would-be adoptive parents of Nepalese orphans across the country who have banded together through letter-writing and now legal action to pressure Canada’s federal and provincial governments to lift the international restrictions.
Last week, the parents retained Vancouver-based immigration lawyer Catherine Sas to help them in their efforts.
They want to turn up the heat on Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) which, responding to directives from provincial governments, halted Nepalese adoptions due to the identity and transparency concerns.
Each Canadian province has its own adoption laws that apply to both domestic and international adoptions, but Citizenship and Immigration Canada ultimately decides whether to issue residency visas, said Sas.
“But they won’t issue the visas unless the provincial governments give them an approval for the adoption,” said Sas. “In March, the B.C. government suspended the adoption program based on the report.”
Sas is representing the Wellands and nine other families and individuals calling themselves the “Parents for Nepal 2009” — so-called because they put in their adoption applications last year — from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec.
They want Canada to follow the example of the U.K. and Sweden and “put people on the ground to verify the actual adoptions they have processed,” said Sas.
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.