Monday, August 30, 2010
New Orphan Processing Procedures for Cases not Subject to the Suspension in Nepal
August 30, 2010
In an effort to protect the interests of U.S. prospective adoptive parents who are adopting from Nepal, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu is implementing new procedures to ensure that the adoptive child will be eligible to immigrate to the United States BEFORE the prospective adoptive parents travel to Nepal and complete the Nepali adoption process. The procedures in this announcement apply only to prospective adoptive parents who were officially matched with Nepali children prior to August 6, 2010, and whose Form I-600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative, has not yet been adjudicated. If prospective adoptive parents whose cases meet these qualifications choose to follow the procedures outlined below, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will determine whether the children for whom they are petitioning meet the definition of orphan under U.S. law – one of the requirements for approval of the Form I-600 petition and visa issuance. End summary.
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State have encountered inconsistent and unreliable documentation regarding the reported abandonment of children for adoption in Nepal. These problems led the U.S. government to suspend processing of new orphan cases involving Nepali children claimed to have been abandoned, effective August 6. However, a number of cases were already underway as of that date and are now being processed to conclusion.
On August 27, 2010, the USCIS delegated authority to the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu to approve any Form I-600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative, on behalf of a Nepali child residing in Nepal who is and whose case is exempt from the suspension of processing announced August 6, 2010. The exemption applies to cases in which the prospective adoptive parents: 1) received an official referral letter from the Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MOWCSW) prior to August 6, 2010, informing them of a proposed match, or 2) who seek to adopt a Nepali child who has been relinquished by known parent(s) and whose identity and relationship can be confirmed.
Prospective adoptive parents involved in a case exempt from the suspension are strongly encouraged to file their completed Form I-600 petition with the U.S. Embassy Kathmandu prior to traveling to Nepal to finalize the adoption. The Embassy will then complete the required Form I-604 Determination of Child for Adoption (sometimes referred to as the “orphan investigation”) and inform the prospective adoptive parents of the results.
Prospective adoptive parents who wish to participate in this program should send their completed, signed Form I-600 petition and supporting documents (other than the adoption order), including a copy of the Government of Nepal’s official referral letter dated prior to August 6, 2010, if available, through their U.S. adoption service provider to their local agency representative in Nepal. Local agency representatives may deliver Form I-600 petitions and supporting documents to the Embassy’s American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit Monday through Friday between the hours of 1:30 and 4:00 p.m. They should tell the Embassy security guard that they are coming to deliver adoption documents. All Form I-600 petitions and supporting documents (other than the adoption order) should be delivered in person by local agency representatives. Prospective adoptive parents should not mail Form I-600 petitions or supporting documents directly to the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu.
Upon delivery of the Form I-600 petition and supporting documents, the local agency representative will be given written confirmation from the Embassy that the documents have been received. A consular officer will perform a preliminary review of the case to ensure that the Form I-600 petition has been properly completed and signed (and includes the appropriate fee, if required) and that all of the required documents have been submitted to enable the Embassy to initiate the I-604 investigation. If the petition and supporting documents are in order, the case will be added to the list of cases pending an I-604 investigation.
The MOWCSW has informed the U.S. Embassy it is willing to grant extensions on the 60 day period between the date of the authorization to travel letter and finalizing the adoptions in Nepal, to give the Embassy time to complete the required I-604 investigation. Prospective adoptive parents who have received the MOWCSW’s travel authorization letter should include a copy with the documents that their local agency representative delivers to the ACS Unit. After the Embassy confirms that the prospective adoptive parents have received an official referral letter from the MOWCSW dated prior to August 6, 2010, the Embassy will request an extension of the 60 days in writing from the MOWCSW on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents. A copy of the Embassy’s letter requesting the extension will be provided to the prospective adoptive parents by email for their records. When the Embassy receives a response from the Ministry, the Embassy will share this response with the prospective adoptive parent.
If, after completing the Form I-604 investigation of the case, the Embassy finds that the evidence establishes that the beneficiary child is an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the prospective adoptive parents will be notified in writing that they may travel to Nepal to complete their adoption.
Upon completion of the adoption, the Embassy will be able to complete the adjudication of the Form I-600. Note that the I-604 Investigation results are not the only consideration in the I-600 adjudication.
If the Form I-600 Petition is approved, further documents (such as the child’s medical report, etc.) will be required at that time for the visa interview. These documents could affect the child’s eligibility to receive an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.
Notification from the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu to travel and complete an adoption following these procedures should therefore not be construed as a guarantee that the Form I-600 petition will be approved or that the child will be issued an immigrant visa. After their adoption is finalized, the adoptive parents or their local agency representative should submit the original adoption order and the child’s Nepali passport to the Embassy and request an immigrant visa appointment. If Embassy Kathmandu determines that the Form I-600 petition is not clearly approvable, the prospective adoptive parents will be notified in writing that the Embassy has forwarded their Form I-600 petition and supporting documents to USCIS New Delhi for further review and action.
With the exception of those families already in Nepal at the time of this announcement, USCIS and the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will process the Form I-600 petitions in the order that they are filed, regardless of whether the petitioner is in Nepal. If a petitioner chooses to travel to Nepal to file the Form I-600 petition after the date of this announcement, the petitioner should anticipate a lengthy stay in Nepal while the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu conducts the required investigation and while USCIS conducts any necessary review.
Domestically Filed Form I-600 Petitions for Children from Nepal:
Effective immediately, the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC) will forward any pending Form I-600 petitions filed domestically on behalf of children from Nepal to the National Visa Center (NVC) and notify the petitioner(s) of the transfers. In addition, any Form I-600 petition received by the NBC after August 6, 2010 will be forwarded to the NVC. Once the NVC receives a Form I-600 petition from the NBC, it will scan the documents and forward the case to the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu for processing.
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that any U.S. citizen seeking to adopt a Nepali child, whose case is not affected by the suspension of processing of adoption cases involving Nepali children claimed to have been found abandoned, should file the Form I 600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative, with the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal.
This change in the filing location for the Form I-600 petitions applies to two groups of prospective adoptive parents who are not affected by the suspension.
* The first group is those who received a referral letter from the Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare before Aug. 6, 2010, informing them of a proposed match of an abandoned child.
* The second group is those who seek to adopt Nepali children who were relinquished by known parent(s) and whose identity and relationship can be confirmed.
USCIS strongly encourages prospective adoptive parents to follow this procedure for their own benefit, based on growing concerns about unreliable documents, irregularities in the methods used to identify children for adoption in Nepal, and the resulting difficulties in classifying those children as orphans under U.S. immigration law. Please see the Aug. 6, 2010 announcement online regarding the suspension.
To file the Form I-600 petition with the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, prospective adoptive parents should complete and sign the Form I-600 and send the Form I-600 with all required supporting documents and evidence, other than the adoption or custody decree, to their respective local agency representatives in Nepal. The local agency representatives may then deliver the documents directly to the American Citizen Services Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu. Based on this filing, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will then complete the required orphan determination before prospective adoptive parents travel to, or adopt a child in, Nepal.
Following this procedure will protect the interests of the prospective adoptive parents and the children by ensuring that the adoptive children will be eligible to immigrate to the United States before the prospective adoptive parents travel to Nepal and complete the Nepali adoption process. It is anticipated that most determinations will be completed within 90 days of receipt of the case by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu.
If, after completing its investigation of the case, the Embassy finds that the child qualifies as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the prospective adoptive parents will be notified in writing that they may travel to Nepal to complete the adoption process.
For addition information about filing a Form I-600 petition at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, please visit www.adoption.state.gov. Guidance for prospective adoptive parents of Nepali children is available online at http://www.uscis.gov/ .
For more information on USCIS and its adoption programs, visit http://www.uscis.gov/adoption .
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
On August 6th, PEAR participated in the conference call held by the USDOS and USCIS in which they jointly announced their decision to suspend processing cases of anonymously abandoned children in Nepal. PEAR is saddened by the necessity of a suspension in Nepal. We believe that the best place for a child to grow is in a loving home. For the legitimately abandoned orphans in Nepal, a suspension will mean the delay or a loss of a permanent home for these children.
Because it is so important for children who need homes to find homes, we believe that inter-country adoption can have a place in a country’s child welfare plans. However, we strongly believe that adoption needs to be in the best interests of the child – and therefore all steps must be taken to ensure that all children placed are truly in need of homes.
Unfortunately, Nepal has a long history of corruption in its inter-country adoption program. There are many documented cases of children placed in orphanages for temporary care being adopted internationally without their parent’s consent. In countries with limited social welfare systems, like Nepal, a temporary orphanage placement is often the only option available to a parent during a crisis. It should not, however, lead to the child being placed for adoption without the parent’s consent.
PEAR hoped when the new program opened in 2009 that would mean a fresh start for the Nepal inter-country adoption program and a reduction in the kind of corruption and ethical violations that had previously plagued many adoptions from Nepal and resulted in the May 2007 closure. Our hopes seem to have been misplaced.
According to the USDOS1 and news reports2, one of the children referred to the first three US families traveling to Nepal was a child whose parents were searching for her. This little girl, Karuna, was placed in the orphanage by her parents for temporary care. Her identity was changed; she was declared to be an abandoned child; a false police report was created; and she was referred for adoption to a US family. Meanwhile, the parent’s requests for her return were refused by the orphanage several times. The prospective adoptive family was in Nepal when Karuna was finally returned to her parents.
On June 22, 2010, eKantipur.com published an article about Smriti3, a girl whose mother placed her in an orphanage for temporary care. During a regular visit to the orphanage to see her daughter, the mother learned Smriti had been adopted by a family in Italy. Her abandonment documentation is alleged to have been falsified. On June 25, 2010, Italy suspended adoptions from Nepal4.
The USDOS reports that, in recent months, there have been more cases of allegedly “abandoned” children – whose families were actively searching for them – being referred for adoption with falsified abandonment documentation. Given the small number of adoptions cases reviewed, this is a shockingly high percentage.
When a child is truly abandoned and turned over to an orphanage as an unknown child, documents are generated. There will be reports of whoever found the child and where the child was found. There will be a police report of the finding and a newspaper report alerting the community of the lost child. Eventually, if the parents cannot be found, new identity documents will be created. The USCIS (and the prospective adoptive parents) need to be able to rely on the authenticity of these documents. These documents need to reflect the real situation of each legitimately abandoned child.
Due to the falsifications in some paperwork, the USCIS conducted field reports to investigate the documents submitted for abandoned children. Either they were unable to confirm how and where the child was found and/or they were prevented from speaking with Nepali officials named in the documentation. The documents submitted could not be relied upon to reflect the child’s true situation, and therefore the child could not meet the legal criteria for an orphan visa.
In other words, USDOS has reason to believe that the entire chain of paperwork for some alleged orphans in Nepal is fraudulent. Compounding the allegedly fraudulent documents is the refusal by Nepali officials to reasonably investigate claims concerning the legitimacy of documents or to cooperate with USDOS.
The Warning Signs
The USDOS has issued at least 7 Notices and Alerts about adoption in Nepal since June 2009. These increased in severity: from concern about the safeguards in the new adoption procedures; to warning Adoption Service Providers (ASPs) not to accept new clients; to advising prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) to change to a different country; and finally to the suspension. In the Appendix, PEAR has excerpted important text from these Notices and Alerts.
PEAR believes that whenever the USDOS issues a warning about adoption issues in a sending country, it should be read with the utmost scrutiny by PAPs, as these warnings are not issued unless there is a specific cause for concern. As USDOS does not usually archive its warnings, it may be difficult for PAPs to notice that the warnings have been changed or updated.
PAPs should also be aware that it is highly unusual for USDOS to issue so many warnings about one country's program within such a short period of time. For example, of 67 USDOS Notices and Alerts that PEAR has posted from 2008 to 2010, at least 7 have been for Nepal. It is very significant that over 10 percent of the USDOS alerts/notices have pertained to one newly opened program.
The Nepal Program 2009-2010 and Available Children
When the Nepal program reopened in 2009, there was a huge rush of ASPs to open programs there, as well as a rush of PAPs to submit dossiers in Nepal. Nepal licensed 63 ASPs in 2009, and an additional 19 in 2010. In an April 12th eKantipur article5, MoWCSW officials reported that there were 534 registered adoption applications, and only 520 children available for adoption. In addition, while 90 percent of the US applications requested a child under 18 months, most of the registered children were 3 years or older.
Similarly, a 2005 study6 on children’s homes in Nepal surveyed 335 children’s homes with 8,821 children under age 18. The author estimated 80% of all the children’s homes in Nepal were surveyed and that the data would be representative of the unsurveyed homes7. Seventy percent of the children were in regular contact with their families8. Only 1 percent of the children had no information about the parents9. Fifty-nine percent were 10 years or older and only 7 percent were under age 510. Twenty percent of the 8,821 children were double orphans11 who might qualify for adoption under Nepal’s laws, but presumably, the majority of these children were over age 10.
Clearly, there was a mismatch in the information provided to PAPs about the number and ages of children in Nepal available for adoption.
We believe that Nepal should not have licensed additional ASPs in 2010, given the lack of legally available children and completed adoptions for already licensed ASPs.
We also believe that responsible ASPs should not have promoted Nepal as a viable alternative for most families considering inter-country adoption once the current problems were officially brought to light in September 2009.
Unethical Adoptions and Wrongful Referrals, Past and Present
We encourage you to read the recent articles about Karuna’s reunion with her family, Smriti’s adoption, and the historical articles about Nirmala Thapa’s three children12, Sunita Bhattarai’s son13, Mitra Bahadur Thapa and Rama Karki’s son14, and Padam Bahadur Shahi’s son15. These children and their parents were permanently separated by an unethical child placement system.
The Nepali closure in 2007 was brought about by the numerous reports of children adopted illegally, including the situations referenced above and of an allegedly abandoned 6-year-old girl who told embassy personnel that she was 8, had a family, and did not wish to be adopted16.
Children reported to be “abandoned” plunged after the May 2007 closure, as documented by both Nepali police Women and Children Service Centre (WCSC) data17 and Gorkhapatra newspaper publications18 of abandonments. This data supports the evidence that abandonments were falsified specifically to place children for inter-country adoption.
The ASPs and Their Member Organizations
We believe that ASPs and their member organizations played a role in creating the situation in Nepal by failing to properly present the Nepal adoption program to their clients, including the lack of children available in the age range most requested, the warnings issued by DOS, the limitations and known fraudulent paperwork of the Nepali system, and its history of corrupt practices. ASPs who continued to promote and recruit prospective adoptive parents for Nepal after the DOS issued warnings opposing this should be held accountable for the pain and financial loss these families are suffering.
- We encourage ASPs to take responsibility for their role in this situation by allowing PAPs to transfer to another program or offering full refunds.
- We encourage ASP member organizations to hold their members to higher ethical standards and to actively promote ethical adoptions.
- PEAR encourages PAPs who had hoped to adopt from Nepal to join together with other PAPs and explore avenues for promoting the reopening of Nepal under an ethical and transparent process that supports and respects the entire triad, not just the ASPs and their in-country facilitators, orphanages, and Nepali officials. We are willing to speak with any and all families and to assist them in exploring ethical avenues for assistance.
- We hope Nepali officials will cooperate with USCIS investigators, especially in the cases of children referred prior to the deadline.
- We advise families that while there is no suspension for legally relinquished children, this process is very difficult in Nepal and rarely happens. The USDOS reports that there have been no relinquished children submitted for adoption by US parents since the program re-opened in 200919.
- We advise families who are officially matched with children, and who also choose to proceed with the adoption, to be patient and expect long delays while in Nepal and understand they may not be successful if they proceed.
1 USDOS, Nepal Adoption Notice, (Feb 17, 2010)
2 Claire Cozens, Nepal's stolen children point to flawed system, (Agence France-Presse, Mar 1, 2010)
Om Astha Rai, Dalit couple foils adoption of offspring, (Republica, Feb 24, 2010)
Gopal Sharma, International adoption resumes for Nepalese children, (Reuters, Sep 10, 2009)
3 Pratima Baskota, Fake police document to adopt a girl, (eKantipur.com, Jun 22. 2010), English translation
4 Commission for International Adoptions, (Italy, Jun 25, 2010)
5 Baby dearth snags adoption, (eKantipur.com, Apr 12, 2010)
6 Rudramati Marg, Study of Children in Children's Homes in Nepal, (June 2005)
7 Ibid. page 41
8 Ibid. page 39
9 Ibid. page 50
10 Ibid. page 26
11 Ibid. page 27
12 IRIN, NEPAL: Concern rising over illegal adoptions, (Sep 2, 2008)
Lucia Mari Bueno, Un drama lejano: los niños vendidos de Nepal, (El Pais, Sep 17, 2004)
13 Alessandro Gilioli, Premiata Macelleria delle Indie, Chapter 24: Mercanti di Bambini, (Rizzoli, 2007)
Joseph Aguettant, Andrea Koller, Anand Tamang, Moni Shrestha, and Marlene Hofstetter, Adopting: the rights of the child, A study on intercountry adoption and its influence on child protection in Nepal, (UNICEF and Terre des homes Foundation, Aug 2008), Page 40
14 Bueno, Un drama lejano: los niños vendidos de Nepal, op. cit.
Razen Manandhar, Duped whammy: Torture Follows trickery, (The Himalaya Times, Sep 25, 2004), Also here page 6
15 Thomas Bell, On Sale, (Nepali Times, Issue 339, March 9, 2007)
Lekhnath Pant, Irregularities rife in adoptions, (Kathmandu Post, Mar 8, 2007)
16 Aguettant et al., Adopting: the rights of the child, op. cit., page 8
17 Ibid., page 20
19 USDOS, Nepal Adoption Suspension: Frequently Asked Questions, (Aug 6, 2010)
Appendix of USDOS Notices and Alerts
PEAR Response to the August 6, 2010 Suspension of Adoptions from Nepal to the US Full Statement in PDF format
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Important Information Regarding Adoptions From Nepal
The Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have decided to suspend processing of new adoption cases from Nepal that involve children who are claimed to have been found abandoned, because documents presented in support of the abandonment of these children in Nepal have been found to be unreliable and circumstances of alleged abandonment cannot be verified because of obstacle in the investigation of individual cases.
•Information for Nepal adoption pipeline cases - 8/13/10
•Joint Statement on Suspension of Processing for New Adoption Cases Based on Abandonment in Nepal - 8/6/10
•Frequently Asked Questions: Suspension of Adoptions of Abandoned Children in Nepal - 8/6/10
•Notice: Caution About Pursuing Adoption in Nepal - 5/26/10
Information for Pipeline Cases
August 13, 2010
We are sending this message to answer your questions about the status of the program that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State are currently setting up that will enable the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu to complete the required I-604 Determination of Child for Adoption (sometimes referred to as the “orphan investigation”) in your case before you travel to Nepal to finalize your adoption.
As of this date, the program is not yet finalized. Every effort is being made to finalize and implement the program in the immediate future. The Office of Children’s Issues will inform you when the program is implemented and will post a notice on adoption.state.gov with information and instructions. Please continue to monitor http://www.adoption.state.gov for updated information.
At this time we do not recommend that prospective adoptive parents travel to Nepal to finalize their adoptions. We are concerned that problems identified in our public announcement will affect the processing of all adoption cases in Nepal. Prospective adoptive parents who do elect to travel to Nepal to finalize their adoptions should be prepared for an extended stay. If the I-600 petition is determined to be not clearly approvable, it will be forwarded to USCIS/New Delhi for further processing, per standard procedure.
We wish to caution prospective adoptive parents that even with a pre-approval program in place, it may take the U.S. government several months to process adoption cases to completion. Questions concerning adoptions in Nepal may be sent to either AskCI@state.gov or AdoptionsNepal@state.gov .
The Embassy is working with the Government of Nepal to see if the 60 day period in which prospective adoptive parents are required to travel to Nepal to finalize their adoption can be extended. We will provide more information as soon as it is available.
The best way to contact the Embassy is by email at AdoptionsNepal@state.gov . Please include your name, your child’s name, your adoption agency, and, if possible, the immigrant visa case number for your child’s case (this number begins with a year, followed by the letters KDU, followed by several more numbers) and can be found on any document sent to you by the National Visa Center).
Please continue to monitor adoption.state.gov for updated information on adoptions in Nepal.
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Questions & Answers: U.S. Suspends Processing New Nepal Adoption Cases Based on Abandonment
Q. Why is the United States government suspending adoptions from Nepal?
A. The Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have decided to suspend processing of new adoption cases from Nepal that involve children who are claimed to have been found abandoned, because documents presented in support of the abandonment of these children in Nepal have been found to be unreliable and circumstances of alleged abandonment cannot be verified because of obstacles in the investigation of individual cases.
Q: Adoptive parents have received immigrant visas for their Nepali children from the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu as recently as a few weeks ago. What has changed since then?
A. A review of recently processed cases established a disturbing pattern indicating that available documentation cannot be relied upon to make determinations that a child reported abandoned qualifies as an orphan under U.S. immigration law.
Q: Does the suspension apply to all cases or only to cases in which a child was allegedly found abandoned?
A. The suspension applies only to cases where a child is alleged to have been found abandoned.
Q. When is the suspension going into effect?
A. The suspension is effective as of August 6, 2010, for all new adoption cases involving children from Nepal who have been reported abandoned.
Q. What is a “new” adoption case that will be covered by the suspension?
A. The suspension applies to cases in which the Government of Nepal has not issued an official referral letter to prospective adoptive parents to propose a match with a specific child from Nepal who has been reported abandoned. If the Government of Nepal has issued the referral letter prior to August 6, 2010, the case will be considered in the pipeline of existing cases and will continue to be processed. If no such referral letter has been issued prior to August 6, 2010, the case will be suspended.
Q. Based on what authority is the U.S. government suspending adoptions from Nepal?
A. The Department of State has concluded that the documentation presented for children reported abandoned in Nepal is unreliable. Without reliable documentation, such children cannot meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. Based on this determination and obstacles in the investigation process the U.S. government has suspended the processing of new adoption cases that involve children who are reported abandoned.
Q. What evidence does the U.S. government have to support the suspension?
A. The Department of State’s ongoing interactions with the Government of Nepal and the review of numerous cases, including field visits to orphanages and police stations, led them to conclude that information regarding how children arrive at orphanages is consistently inadequate and that documents presented to establish that a child was found abandoned are unreliable. Investigations of abandonment cases have been hampered by the unavailability of officials involved in reports of abandonment, and police and orphanage officials’ refusals to allow consular officers access to police and orphanage records.
Q. Has the U.S. government made any effort to address the problems with the Government of Nepal?
A. The U.S. government, in cooperation with other countries that are active in intercountry adoptions, has consistently encouraged the Government of Nepal to ratify and implement the Hague Adoption Convention. Nepal is a signatory to the Convention. We have also urged the Government of Nepal to implement the recommendations made by the Hague Permanent Bureau Intercountry Technical Assistance Program (ICATAP) as a first step toward fulfilling its commitment as a signatory to the Convention. We believe that the Hague Adoption Convention incorporates the best practices in intercountry adoption, which are intended to protect the rights of the children and the families involved in intercountry adoption.
Q: Will there be any exceptions to the suspension?
A. No. Prospective adoptive parents who the Government of Nepal has matched with a child reported abandoned after August 6, 2010, will not receive a decision on a petition for that child.
Q. Are there any cases in Nepal that do not involve children reported abandoned?
A. Not at the present time. However, in the case of a relinquishment by known birth parent(s), the application would be processed under normal procedures. DNA evidence may be necessary to establish the relationship between the birth parent(s) and child.
Q. When will adoptions from Nepal resume?
A. We are unable to predict when adoptions involving children who are reported abandoned in Nepal will be able to resume. We encourage the Government of Nepal to implement sufficient protections to ensure the integrity of the intercountry adoption process.
Q. What will happen to families who are already matched with a child from Nepal?
A. The suspension applies to abandonment cases in which the prospective adoptive parents have not yet been matched with a child from Nepal. The Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare issues an official “referral letter” to inform prospective adoptive parents of a proposed match. If the Government of Nepal has issued the official referral letter prior to August 6, 2010, the case will be processed to conclusion. In light of concerns regarding the validity of documents supporting abandonment cases in Nepal, the cases will be carefully investigated and only those in which there is sufficient credible evidence to conclude a child has been found abandoned will be approved.
If consular officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu determine that a case is not clearly approvable, they are required to forward the Form I-600, Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative, to the USCIS office in New Delhi for review. USCIS and the Department of State will process each case individually, based on the evidence presented and the results of the investigation. If additional information is required to complete the processing of any particular case, USCIS will request additional evidence specific to the facts of that particular case, and the prospective adoptive parents will have an opportunity to respond.
Q. How many cases are in the “pipeline”?
A. Based on information provided by the Government of Nepal, we estimate that there are approximately 80 cases in which U.S. families have been matched with a child in Nepal, but in which the Form I-600 petition has not been adjudicated or a visa has not been issued.
Q. Can a family that has begun the process of adopting in Nepal decide to adopt a child from a different country now?
A. Yes. If prospective adoptive parents have already filed or received approval of a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, that specifies Nepal as the country from which they intend to adopt, they are permitted to request one no-fee change of country. If the prospective adoptive parents have already filed a Form I-600 on behalf of a Nepali child, they may withdraw the petition. Upon withdrawal of the petition, the prospective adoptive parents may request a change of country and file another Form I-600 petition on behalf of a different child, as long as their Form I-600A approval remains valid.
Q. What are other countries that process adoptions of Nepali orphans doing?
A. Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom have recently suspended adoptions in Nepal based on similar concerns.
Friday, August 6, 2010
KATHMANDU, Aug 6: The US has suspended inter-country adoption from Nepal from Friday, questioning the authenticity of the system that has been marred by fraudulence and irregularities.
"In order to protect the rights and interests of certain Nepali children and their families, and of US prospective adoptive parents, the Department of State and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have jointly decided to suspend adjudication of new adoption petitions and related visa issuance for children who are described as having been abandoned in Nepal," the Department of State said in a statement on Friday.
Nepal´s adoption system has been questioned by the Western countries following publication of a report by The Hague Conference on Private International Law, an intergovernmental organization, in February this year.
The report based on an investigation by a group of lawyers had accused Nepal´s adoption system of widespread abuse. It had also called for suspension of adoption from Nepal until the system is reformed.
Following the publication of the Hague report, eleven Western countries including the US, have suspended adoption officially and unofficially from Nepal. Earlier Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom had suspended adoptions from Nepal.
The US decision is likely to force the Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare to suspend inter-country adoption altogether.
No official from the ministry was available to comment on the US decision. But Secretary at the Ministry Mahendra Shrestha had told myrepublica.com in July that the government would suspend adoption from Nepal if the US also halted adoption.
A team from the Department of State had recently visited Nepal to interact with government officials.
The team had investigated numerous abandonment cases, including field visits to orphanages and police departments. Its investigation found that documents present to describe and "prove" abandonment of children in Nepal were unreliable, according the statement.
"Civil documents, such as the children´s birth certificates often include data that has been changed or fabricated. Investigations of children reported to be found abandoned are routinely hindered by the unavailability of officials named in reports of abandonment," the US said in the statement.
In March, the US had issued an alert notice to prospective adoptive US parents, expressing concern over Nepal´s adoption system and the accuracy of the information in children´s official files.
Published on 2010-08-06
By DAVID CRARY
The Associated Press
Friday, August 6, 2010
NEW YORK -- The U.S. government on Friday suspended the adoption of abandoned children from Nepal because of concerns about unreliable and fabricated documents.
The State Department said the suspension would take effect immediately, although it will continue to consider adoption applications already in the pipeline on a case-by-case basis. About 80 such cases are pending.
More than 60 Nepalese children were adopted by Americans in 2006. The number dropped to six last year as U.S. officials intensified warnings about possible problems.
The State Department acted after finding numerous cases where Nepalese children's birth certificates were falsified and orphanage officials refused to assist efforts to confirm information.
Because of the unreliable documents and "the general situation of noncooperation with and even active hindrance of investigations," U.S. authorities can no longer accurately determine whether a child qualifies as an orphan, the State Department said.
It cited one case where the birth parents were actively searching for a child who had been matched with an American family for adoption.
Regarding the pending cases, the State Department said they would be approved only if supported by reliable evidence.
"Every effort will be made to process their cases as expeditiously as possible with the best interests of children in mind," it said.
U.S. officials said the duration of the suspension would depend on the pace with which Nepal's government implements more rigorous oversight of adoptions. One step in this direction would be to ratify the Hague Convention, with sets standards for international adoptions.
According to the State Department, numerous other countries - including Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy and Britain - have recently suspended adoptions from Nepal based on similar concerns.
Chuck Johnson, head of the private National Council for Adoption, expressed dismay at the suspension, saying it would consign many Nepalese orphans to longer stays in institutions.
"It's a sad day for us children's advocates," he said. "When you suspend adoptions due to concerns of abuse, you're also preventing the adoption of legal and legitimate orphans. ... There will be suffering, profound psychological and physical effects."
The Washington Post:
The Himalayan Times
Issuing a press statement on Friday, the Embassy of the United States Public Affairs Office in Kathmandu said the Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) jointly took the decision in order to protect the rights and interests of certain Nepali children and their families, and of U.S. prospective adoptive parents.
The Department of State’s recent interactions with the Government of Nepal and its efforts to review and investigate numerous abandonment cases, including field visits to orphanages and police departments, have demonstrated that documents presented to describe and “prove” the abandonment of children in Nepal are unreliable, read the statement.
“Civil documents, such as the children’s birth certificates often include data that has been changed or fabricated. Investigations of children reported to be found abandoned are routinely hindered by the unavailability of officials named in reports of abandonment.”
The Embassy said the police and orphanage officials often refuse to cooperate with consular officers’ efforts to confirm information by comparing it with official police and orphanage records.
"Because the Department of State has concluded that the documentation presented for children reported abandoned in Nepal is unreliable and the general situation of non-cooperation with and even active hindrance of investigations, the U.S. Government can no longer reasonably determine whether a child documented as abandoned qualifies as an orphan," the Embassy said.
Without reliable documentation, it is not possible for the United States government to process an orphan petition to completion.
Any petition filed for a child who has been presented as found abandoned and who was matched with a prospective adoptive parent prior to the date of this announcement, as evidenced by an official referral letter from the Government of Nepal, will continue to be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis and in light of the totality of the evidence available, according to the Embassy.
However, the Department of State will reach out to prospective adoptive parents who meet this criteria. Petitions that continue to be adjudicated will only be approved if they are supported by reliable evidence. Every effort will be made to process their cases as expeditiously as possible with the best interests of children in mind.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of State today issued a joint statement on the decision to suspend processing for new adoption cases based on abandonment in Nepal.
In order to protect the rights and interests of certain Nepali children and their families, and of U.S. prospective adoptive parents, the Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have jointly decided to suspend adjudication of new adoption petitions and related visa issuance for children who are described as having been abandoned in Nepal.
The Department of State’s recent interactions with the Government of Nepal and its efforts to review and investigate numerous abandonment cases, including field visits to orphanages and police departments, have demonstrated that documents presented to describe and “prove” the abandonment of children in Nepal are unreliable. Civil documents, such as the children’s birth certificates often include data that has been changed or fabricated. Investigations of children reported to be found abandoned are routinely hindered by the unavailability of officials named in reports of abandonment. Police and orphanage officials often refuse to cooperate with consular officers’ efforts to confirm information by comparing it with official police and orphanage records. In one case, the birth parents were actively searching for a child who had been matched with an American family for adoption. Because the Department of State has concluded that the documentation presented for children reported abandoned in Nepal is unreliable and the general situation of non-cooperation with and even active hindrance of investigations, the U.S. Government can no longer reasonably determine whether a child documented as abandoned qualifies as an orphan. Without reliable documentation, it is not possible for the United States Government to process an orphan petition to completion.
To the best of our knowledge, all other countries that had been processing adoption cases from Nepal have stopped accepting new cases due to a lack of confidence that children presented as orphans are actually eligible for intercountry adoption.
The suspension of adjudication of new adoption petitions on behalf of Nepali children reported as found abandoned is effective as of the date of this statement. Any petition filed for a child who has been presented as found abandoned and who was matched with a prospective adoptive parent prior to the date of this announcement, as evidenced by an official referral letter from the Government of Nepal, will continue to be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis and in light of the totality of the evidence available. The Department of State will reach out to prospective adoptive parents who meet this criteria. Petitions that continue to be adjudicated will only be approved if they are supported by reliable evidence. Every effort will be made to process their cases as expeditiously as possible with the best interests of children in mind.
Or Tiny url: http://tinyurl.com/USCISNepalNotice
FAQs can be found here:
OR Tiny URL: http://tinyurl.com/USCISNepal-FAQs
PEAR will issue a statement discussing the suspension shortly.
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.