Friday, February 26, 2010

PEAR Statement on Nepal Adoptions

PEAR Statement on Nepal Adoptions



The country of Nepal reopened its intercountry adoption program in January of 2009 after closing in 2007 due to allegations of trafficking and corruption. At the time it reopened, PEAR was cautiously optimistic that Nepal would be able to follow this new program and adoptions would be transparent, ethical and in the best interests of children. Our two major concerns were whether Nepal had adequate processes in place to protect children from needlessly entering into the intercountry adoption system, and the inclusion of numerous large, mandatory fees/donations and the possible corrupting influence this would have on decisions to place children for intercountry adoption. These fees include a $10,000 per agency per year fee to the Nepali government (the Ministry is currently requesting that this money goes to the Child's Right Fund via direct donation to CNFN), a $5,000 per adoption donation to the orphanage or Children's Home caring for the child prior to adoption, and a $3,000 fee per child to the government of Nepal.

Since the reopening of adoptions, over 500 dossiers have been registered with the Nepali government by families hoping to adopt a child. Only 22 adoptions have been finalized with another 40 or so prospective adoptive families being matched with a child. Those matches occurred in the summer and fall of 2009 and have sat in limbo with the Nepal adoption authorities ever since. According to the US State Department, seven of those matches were to families in the US and though the GON has promised movement on those cases since late January or early February, nothing has happened. No invitations to travel have been received by matched families and no new matches have been made.

This February, Nepal announced that it had licensed seventeen additional agencies to work in Nepal with an initial quota of 10 dossiers per year per agency. PEAR finds this decision to be irresponsible in light of the difficulty or unwillingness of the Nepal government to place waiting children with families currently matched or registered to adopt. We are calling on the newly licensed agencies to withhold recruiting families for Nepal adoption programs until such time that Nepal demonstrates a commitment to placing children in need and cleaning up the problems that led to the previous closure.

In addition to the obvious problems Nepal has in placing waiting children, PEAR is also concerned with the recent reports of continued corruption and difficulties Nepal is facing with its intercountry adoption program. The US Department of State has expressed ongoing concerns with the viability of Nepal's new program. http://www.adoption.state.gov/country/nepal.htmlhttp://adoption.state.gov/news/nepal.html.

Reports also have come forth highlighting ethical and legal concerns surrounding intercountry adoption from Nepal. One report from the US Department of State indicates that the US Embassy in Nepal has denied one visa on the basis that the child in question not only had two living parents, but those parents were actively trying to find their child. http://adoption.state.gov/news/nepal.html In addition, the Intercountry Adoption Technical Assistance Programme - Report of Hague Conference Mission to Nepal (23-27 November 2009):
and http://www.hcch.net/upload/wop/nepal_rpt09.pdf indicates that problems with transparency and corruption continue even under the new laws. Of particular concern to adopting families and their future children are the findings mentioned in section 5.1:

1. Falsification of documents: there is evidence that this abuse is occurring regularly in order to declare a child adoptable and that this abuse has continued under the Terms and Conditions 2008;

2. False statements about the child's abandonment, origins, age and status: there is evidence that this abuse is occurring regularly in order to declare a child adoptable.

Falsification of documents and false histories of children are harmful to the entire adoption triad. Adopting parents cannot be sure that their children were not trafficked and may face many difficulties in parenting children with false social, medical and familial information. Original families may have had no intention of placing their child for adoption or no understanding of the concept and permanency of international adoption and may lose their children to the system. And of greatest import, adopted children may face emotional, medical and social turmoil grappling with the loss of their original family and consequences of false information about their age, identity, health, and history. They may also experience deeper grief and inability to find their place in the world when the only information they have on their origins turns out to be false and they have little to no chance of finding the truth.

PEAR is aware that Germany has suspended its programs and other countries may be in the process of doing so as well. While PEAR does not wish to see another suspension of adoptions from Nepal, we also do not want to see continued practices that place children and families at risk. PEAR commends the US Department of State for its continued dedication to thoroughly investigating all adoptions to US families and continuing dialogue with the Nepali government. PEAR hopes that this will prevent adopting families and children from entering into illegal or unethical adoptions. We sincerely hope that the Nepal government will demonstrate its commitment to its children by taking swift action to implement the changes outlined by the Hague and the UNICEF/Terre des hommes report.

However, if Nepal is unable or unwilling to address its issues and significant problems continue with the transparency and legitimacy of adoptions, we see no other route to protecting children and families than suspending the program. We understand that suspending adoptions will harm children in legitimate need of families, we hope that those involved in overseeing and performing adoptions realize this as well. There are hundreds of children legitimately adoptable in Nepal's orphanages, we find it incomprehensible that children with intact families are being illegitimately and illegally placed into the adoption system. We are calling on orphanage directors, government officials, adoption service providers and adopting parents to put the children first and do everything in their power to eliminate the corruption. Children are hurt when adoption is suspended, but they are also harmed in corrupt adoptions and we sincerely hope that those advocating for keeping adoptions open no matter what realize that as well. Indeed, the harm done to the entire triad in participating in corrupted adoptions is substantial, often permanent and deeply wrong.

A Note on Solutions Being Offered by Other Adoption Related Organizations

We are disappointed to see other adoption related organizations promoting the passage of the FFOA in response to the current issues in Nepal. There is absolutely no evidence that passage of this legislation will assist families currently in process or keep Nepal open for future adoptions. What this legislation would do is significantly slow down adoptions in the near future while DOS reorganizes itself, then tie the offering of crucial humanitarian aid to a country's willingness to participate in international adoption. PEAR and other agencies concerned with the welfare of vulnerable children find it reprehensible for the US to create any dependency upon international adoption for funding social welfare programs.

PEAR is not opposed to international adoption as a viable solution for alternative care, but we are opposed to making it mandatory for the provision of aid and assistance. Current US laws and processes are in place that adequately address the social issues outlined in the FFOA, but are lacking full funding from Congress. And, the adoption and implementation of the Hague and UNCRC in all countries would satisfy the underlying social, legal and ethical problems plaguing many countries in finding alternative care options for vulnerable children, including their intercountry adoption programs. There is no need to re-invent the wheel, especially at the expense of current programs helping vulnerable and orphaned children around the world.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dalit Couple Foils Adoption Of Offspring (Republica)






Dalit Couple Foils Adoption Of Offspring


OM ASTHA RAI


KATHMANDU, Feb 24: After desperate searches, a downtrodden Dalit family from Nuwakot district has retrieved its lost children, who were nearly adopted by an American couple.

Rajan Nepali, 27, who works as a manual laborer in Kathmandu to feed his family, had sent his children--son Kaushal, 7, and daughter Karuna, 3, -- to the Helpless Children Protection Home (HCPH) orphanage at Ranibari through one Basanta Raj Upreti, an acquaintence, in 2008.

“I was addicted to drugs because of which my wife Maya left me,” Rajan said. “After she left, I was unable to look after the children. I sent them to the orphanage, expecting that they would be taken care of for some time.” He was planning to take back his children once his wife returned to him.

But things did not work out as Rajan expected. After some time, he luckily saw his children’s photos in a vernacular newspaper. An illiterate man, he could not read what was written below the photos. So he got someone else to read it to him.

Then to his utter surprise and dismay, he learnt that his children had been put up for inter-country adoption.

The names of his children had also been changed from Kaushal and Karuna to Dharma and Ahimsa. “I was ready to stay away from my children for some time because of my poverty,” he said. “But I was not ready to lose them forever.” By then, Maya had returned to him. The two then tried to get back their children.

Rajan and Maya met Sabitri Basnet, who runs HCPH with her husband Jitendra, a retired police inspector. They requested Sabitri to return their children. But she somehow persuaded them to take back only their son, Kaushal. “We were satisfied at getting back at least one of our children,” Rajan said.

Sabitri, meanwhile, continued with the process of handing over Karuna for adoption by foreigners. A few months later, Carlos and Kyla Romanach, an American couple, approached Sabitri’s HCPH and adopted Karuna as their foster daughter.

It was then that the Romanaches came to know that Karuna’s brother Kaushal had been reclaimed by his biological parents. After two weeks, they returned Karuna to Sabitri, refusing to adopt a child having biological parents. Meanwhile, Rajan and Maya had come to learn of their daughter being adopted by the American couple.

Rajan and Maya again visited Sabitra. This time, Sabitri refused to let them take back their daughter. Then they approached the Central Children Welfare Board (CCWB) in Lalitpur for help. With CCWB’s intervention, Rajan and Maya finally got Karuna back.

Sabitri’s story

Sabitri Basnet, 60, who claims to have been running HCPH as a social service, says that Kaushal and Karuana were brought to her as orphans by police on July 2, 2008. She produced a police document stating that Kaushal and Karuna were found abandoned somewhere in Naxal. “I did not know for sure that they had parents at all,” she maintains.

Even if Sabitri is telling the truth, questions about her assertions abound. Why did she not take Kaushal and Karuna to the Children Search Center (CSC), which tries to find the biological parents before allowing children to be put up for inter-country adoption?

Why did she hand Karuna over to foreigners after having sent her brother back to their biological parents?

Some five years ago also Sabitri was in the news for sending the two children of one Nirmala Thapa of Dhading, to America. Sabitri had assured Nirmala that the children would be properly taken care of. As in the case of Rajan, Nirmala learnt of her children being put up for adoption only after seeing their photos in a newspaper.

Sabitri’s HCPH is one of the leading orphanages involved in adoptions. A former Baal Mandir employee, Sabitiri was the first to send children abroad after the government lifted a ban on inter-country adoptions in 2008 following promulgation of a new set of regulations.

A year earlier, the government had banned inter-country adoptiond following widespread allegations of malpractice.

Sources say that HCPH was initially not included in a list of orphanages qualified to work on inter-country adoptions, which the government compiled with the objective of controlling malpractices. CCWB, which made the list, had accused HCPH of not maintaining required standards for the inter-country adoptions. Sabitri, however, got her orphanage included in the list, using her wide-ranging nexus with influential individuals.

Delisted again

Acting on the recommendations of a committee it formed to oversee the entire inter-country adoption process, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW) has deleted Sabitri’s HCPH from the list of orphanages eligible for inter-country adoption.

According to Upendra Keshari Neupane, a member of the committee, the document Sabitri’s orphanage produced for the adoption of Rajan’s daughter was full of shortcomings.

Neupane, who represents the Children NGOs Federation (CNF) on the committee, demands that the government further probe Sabitri’s adoption activities. “Delisting alone is not enough,” he argues.





From myrepublica.com - a sister publication of Republica national daily:


http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=15599





Sabitri is a member of the Executive Committee -- Child NGO Federation-Nepal (CNFN):





Prachanda Raj Pradhan



Chairperson



Bishwo Ram Khadka


Vice Chairperson



Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal


General Secretary



Rudra Kandangwa


Secretary



Sanu Prajapati Maharjan


Treasurer



Pratima Pathak Mudhbhari


Member



Mr. Kedar Dahal


Member



Maya Suhar Tamata


Member



Sapana Rana


Member



Sabitri Basnayat


Member



Upendra Keshari Neupane


Member

From CNFN website (25 Feb. 2010):

http://www.cnfnepal.org/ex_comm.php


The Nirmala Thapa scandal:

http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/27956



Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Observations of Nepal’s Troubled Adoption System from a Past Perspective

By Barbara McArtney
Attorney at Law
Director, Graham’s Gift Children’s Foundation
Board Member, PEAR

The Government of Nepal suspended international adoptions in 2007 in order to reform its process, then widely criticized as being corrupt and rife with irregularities. Under new terms and conditions written in 2008 that accredited orphanages and licensed foreign agencies, Nepal reopened to US adoptions in 2009. At the same time, they charged both agencies and parents new fees of thousands of dollars, yet made no improvements in child welfare or the transparency of the adoption process.

Agencies each must pay $10,000 per year to be licensed to operate in Nepal with an initial quota of 10 adoptions/year. According to a new MOU issued in February 2010, money collected from this fee will be given to the newly formed Child's Rights Fund managed by a committee including members of the Ministry and Child NGO Federation-Nepal (CNFN) among others*, who will decide how the funds are to be used (http://www.mowcsw.gov.np/opensection.php?secid=484). Adoptive parents are required to pay $5,000 to each orphanage regardless of the amount or cost of care as well as $3,000 to the government of Nepal for each completed adoption. Little to no accountability for the use of these fees is required.

Nepal signed the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention in 2009, but the committee from the Hague issued a highly critical report of their system. The report cited numerous conflicts of interest, the improper influence of fees charged by the government, failure to make family reunification efforts or in-country placements, and a lack of consideration to the best interests of the child. Nepal adoptions have been at a near-standstill for over a year as hundreds of dossiers have been accepted but almost none processed. Despite this backlog, Nepal has recently accepted 17 new agencies as well as solicited the fees for relicensing of the 60 or so agencies already approved. Yet no adoptions are moving forward. Some agencies are accepting 2010 dossiers despite no movement in the 2009 dossiers. Prospective parents are given little information by their agencies, and are justifiably confused and upset. In February 2010, the US Department of State (DOS) warned against initiating an adoption from Nepal at this time.

PEAR has requested that I give my thoughts on the current situation in Nepal in light of my adoption agency’s failed attempt to run a legal and ethical adoption program there in the past. Our agency attempted to run a small placement program in Nepal in 2003-2004. We had arranged to work with the Nepal Bar Association Legal Aid program, which was going to set up a network of cooperating legal-aid lawyers in outlying districts, where they maintain a presence to make legal referrals and process relinquishments of genuinely adoptable orphans. For each child adopted, we were going to support other orphans who were not adoptable through educational programs (especially for young girls) of training or trade school. The Bar Association was initially very enthusiastic, and assured me everything would be done legally and ethically. I made two trips to Nepal and met with Ministry officials, the executive board of the Nepal Bar Association, and its president and secretary numerous times. They were gracious and professional. I was naïve enough to think that partnering with Nepal’s largest legal organization would ensure high standards of ethical conduct and professional efficiency, and that our agreement indicated the intent to perform as written. After all, in America, legal aid is traditionally thought of as a way the less empowered are protected and their rights advanced.

The Nepal Bar went to bat for free speech, open government and due process. We signed an agreement with lots of stamps, strings, and seals, and had all sorts of alleged support after meetings with the Ministry. It was during a time of protests, bandhs (strikes) and upheaval, and there were supposedly many orphans in outlying areas unable to get placed in orphanages for which there were long waiting lists. I believed that Nepal's poverty, civil war, and various social systems gave rise to a desperate need for international adoption. I heard stories of children’s parents being killed, leaving them with no family and nowhere to go. Abandonments had increased. The possibilities for the extended family and community being able to assume care for children lessened due to extensive displacement and lost resources.

So I went to meet with the US Embassy Consular Officer. He was anything but encouraging, and told me I was foolish to trust the Bar Association, and that my plans to work with them were just going to cause a lot of trouble. I was very intimidated and upset by his harsh words, especially as I believed we had ideal partners--and like so many other well-intentioned people in the adoption business, I could do it right with my good intentions.

After my two trips to Nepal and all the promises I had been given, though, the project was still elusive in materializing. Those very same promises of ethical operation and transparency were soon replaced with notifications that I would be “informed” when things were arranged. I began to suspect that I was being “handled” by my “partners.” The separate bank accounts for orphan education and facilitation were never set up, despite my repeated instructions and requests. I was given the private bank account number of the Bar Association’s secretary with the explanation, “In case I need it” instead. I reiterated that I wanted this to be an uncorrupt and legitimate process. My questions and protests eventually resulted in emails and phone calls that were ignored and left unreturned. I realized that I either had to comply with the way things were in Nepal, or shut down. I terminated the program in 2004.

Adoptions directly with orphanage directors were no less corrupt. One director I dealt with ended up being, quite simply, a criminal. He demanded an all-expenses-paid trip to the United States for his entire family for a month in order to complete an adoption. He announced this as he also attempted to extort money from a family there to adopt a baby they had already held, bonded with, and agreed to adopt. Upon refusal to give in to any demands, he informed us that the biological parents of the baby had come back and reclaimed the child and the adoption was no longer possible.

One Mercedes-driving orphanage director had a very large operation, with several orphanages and a baby home full of many newborns. That home was strictly for newborns being adopted internationally. It was like a production facility, with a dozen nannies being ordered about in a large city compound. The orphanage in the city for older children was more typical of Kathmandu orphanages. The director required his own legal fee (it was not permitted to use an independent attorney), a standard adoption fee, sponsorship of a child, baby care until placement, and then, a donation of several thousand dollars more to buy “a few more computers needed for an educational project.” According to other adoptive parents with whom I stayed in touch over the years, he must have bought enough computers to fill a stadium. Proof of use of these fees was never provided. In-kind donations were not permitted.

At our meeting, this director predicted that the Bar Association project would fail because people in the countryside had to “trust” the people to whom their children were being relinquished (and have the right connections in Kathmandu, too). Legal Aid lawyers, despite any assistance they provided in the community, apparently were not those people. At the time I believed (or perhaps hoped) that he meant that the Legal Aid lawyers wouldn’t illegally pay for referrals. He did not explain how he got his children from the countryside where he was “trusted” to move children into Kathmandu for adoption.

Referred children (from other than Bal Mandir) were supposedly all relinquished or “found” in the Kathmandu Valley. Their adoptive parents had to sign papers to adopt them at the District Administration Level where they are “from”--and at that time that was always in the safe Kathmandu Valley or a small number from the resort area of Pokhara. But it was understood that many of the children were from outside of Kathmandu in countryside areas where adoptive parents cannot or will not travel in order to accept the referral at the District Administration level. Rural children were relinquished to orphanage directors or their employees, and
transported into Kathmandu, where they were turned over to the local police in Kathmandu as having been “abandoned” there near a police station. Or, more rarely, a Kathmandu-area family would pose as a biological parent relinquishing their own child who’d newly born to them at home. (It was not unusual for a birth to take place at home and for there to be no hospital documents.) The police would then refer that child “for care” to the orphanage director or his staff (who were actually those who’d brought the child in, in the first place), and then the notices would be published so the child was adoptable while receiving pre-adoptive care in the specialized adoption baby homes or an orphanage. It was observed by some that ethnic children from specific areas of Nepal would be found by the same police station in a clearly observable pattern, making it obvious they were not really from Kathmandu. Everyone knew this was the way it worked. In most cases, the Ministry had no objection and the Embassies had no direct evidence of the trafficking, so these adoptions would frequently pass muster.

The attorney for the government-affiliated orphanage, Bal Mandir, was also the facilitator for several private IA agencies at that time, a clear conflict of interest known to all professional participants in the Nepali adoption process, but tolerated and permitted to continue. I was referred to that facility by the Ministry only to have the attorney refuse to work with us when he learned that the Bar Association was to handle our legal work. I do not know if this attorney is still working in that capacity at Bal Mandir.

At the time, some US-based adoption agencies publicly lamented the flood of agencies descending upon Nepal to set up “unethical” adoption programs and “ruining everything.” But the newcomers were only playing the same game as the existing agencies. Perhaps they did so less discreetly and in numbers that became too large to fly below the radar. Perhaps they pushed the envelope too far or offered higher fees to break into the previously exclusive market. This spoiled things for the more established and seemingly genteel baby launderers. I recall one agency describing their operations as serving only “boutique agencies.”

I complained to various officials in the Ministry without response as well as to the US Embassy consular officer for months. Apart from the “I told you so” and some unpleasant exchanges, he also held a "demarche" with the Ministry to address my reports (and those of others) about corruption and trafficking. Despite these less-than-amicable exchanges and mutual frustration, I believe the consular officer did what he could. Nothing came of their demarche. One orphanage eventually was banned by the US for adoptions after others complained of the same extortion. Thankfully, I had only accepted a few families into our Nepal “pilot program,” and returned all fees to the one family who was unable to complete their adoption. There was no way to conduct legal and ethical adoptions in Nepal as far as I could see. Our agency stopped doing foreign placement programs then, for good.

Like others, I am puzzled why the Ministry has not managed to process a reasonable number of adoption dossiers while accepting hundreds more since Nepal reopened in 2009. Is it fear that the paperwork is so flagrantly false as to trigger in-depth investigations by DOS and the issuance of NOIDs? Due to worries about corruption, other countries have already banned adoptions from Nepal. Are more on the brink? There certainly is a lot of political instability in Nepal that could easily explain the lack of coherent operations, but the Ministry is still somehow able to license more agencies and demand more fees from already licensed agencies. Why allow more agencies to “operate” in Nepal when there is no viable operation or any moment of referrals or travel approvals right now? Whatever the reason, it is just plain wrong for Nepal to collect yet more fees (at $10,000 per) to not only re-license, but to issue new licenses. I believe it is equally wrong for agencies to be soliciting clients for Nepal until the system shows some signs of both functioning and ensuring ethical adoptions.

Is the adoption system in Nepal likely to change? With zero transparency at the Ministry level, all predictions are mere speculation. The only certainty is that unless major changes are made, it is only a matter of time before Nepal joins the ranks of Cambodia, Guatemala, Vietnam, Romania, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, and becomes the next country shut to IA due to corruption and unethical procedures by both locals in-country and by the adoption agencies that enabled and denied the truth of this trafficking to their clients.

*correction made to the original blogpost due to an editing error 2/25/2010
**************************

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Statement by International Adoption Working Group






Embassy of the United States
Public Affairs Office
Kathmandu, Nepal

Tel: 400-7200


February 24, 2010


Statement by International Adoption Working Group

The ad hoc International Adoption Working Group strongly encourages the Government of Nepal to act swiftly to strengthen the adoption process by implementing all 1993 Hague Convention on Inter-Country Adoption regulations, including implementing measures aimed at ensuring authenticity and accuracy of documents, promoting family preservation and, most importantly, safeguarding children’s well-being. All of these recommendations are included in the recent Hague Conference on Private International Law - Mission to Nepal Report.

The Working Group is composed of representatives from the diplomatic missions of countries who have adoption agencies, both private and state-run, active or considering becoming active in Nepal. We support providing the Nepali Government technical assistance in this matter.

NOTE: This release has been issued by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu on behalf of the ad hoc International Adoption Working Group. The following Embassies have signed on to this statement:

Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.





Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Diplomats urge Nepal to strengthen adoption rules (AFP)


Diplomats urge Nepal to strengthen adoption rules (AFP)


KATHMANDU (AFP) – Diplomats in Nepal on Wednesday urged the government to tighten controls on international adoptions after the parents of a child put up for adoption said they had not given their permission.

In a statement issued by the US embassy, diplomats from 14 countries urged the government "to act swiftly" to implement safeguards contained in a 1993 Hague convention on international adoption.

These include "implementing measures aimed at ensuring authenticity and accuracy of documents, promoting family preservation and, most importantly, safeguarding children's well-being," they said.

The warning came after a US couple trying to adopt a young Nepalese girl discovered that the child's biological parents were not only alive but were actively searching for her.

Authorities reportedly only became aware of the parents' existence when they turned up at the ministry for women and children to seek help in finding their daughter.

Nepal introduced new legislation in 2008 to try to prevent such abuses, and only restarted international adoptions last year under the new system.

But campaigners say widespread problems persist and earlier this month, a team of legal experts from The Hague called for international adoptions of Nepalese children to be suspended.

They said their investigations found documents were routinely falsified and children's homes were largely unregulated, with the interests of the child often not considered at all.





Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Activities of Child Homes Suspicious (Gorkhapatra)

Activities of Child Homes Suspicious (Gorkhapatra)

The government newspaper -- translated from Nepali.




Activities of Child Homes Suspicious

Gorkhapatra -- 23 Feb. 2010

Kathmandu - The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare has taken action against one orphan home for presenting fake documents. Only last week the Hague Convention submitted a report saying that the Nepalese orphan homes are not transparent. As a punishment, the said orphan home cannot send any child on international adoption for 2 years.

According to the ministry the Ranibari based orphan home presented fake documents to send a child to USA. The parents of the child who are working as labour in Kathmandu were not aware of this conspiracy. The case was revealed when the parents of the child came looking for their child in the ministry after she went missing from the orphan home.


Minister of MOWCSW Mr. Sarbadev Ojha said the orphan home was trying to send the child on adoption using fake documents. This action is very positive for the adoption. As there are many irregularities, we are soon coming up with minimum criteria for the orphan homes.

The report of the Hague Convention mentioning that “the children homes don’t meet the criteria of the Hague convention and they are not transparent” came as an earthquake. Ms. Jennifer Degeling has published on the 4th of February, a report right after her visit in Nepal.

The report mentioned that the law on Inter-country adoption is very weak, and the conditions of the orphan homes are very critical. In the report, she emphasized that the orphan homes should meet the criteria set by Hague convention.

The report also showed disagreement for $10,000 which has to be paid by the international agency.

It also highlighted the importance of a child psychologist’s presence in the committee, which finalises the adoption process.

The Hague report also mentioned that the presence of CNFN in the matching committee will influence the matching process and transparency cannot be maintained. Because of this report CNFN cancelled all the membership of the orphan homes who were affiliated with them. The Monitoring, Investigation and Recommendation Committee also has a member of CNFN.

8 Embassies including Germany have written the ministry to remove CNFN from the adoption committees, but the president of CNFN accused the attitude of the embassies being revengeful.

He said that the membership of 38 orphan homes is cancelled. We will soon send the comment on the Hague convention. We have respected the Hague report without our consent.

Even though the Hague report showed disagreement on the $10,000 taken from the international agencies, the ministry has already published the new Financial Fund 2010 which is said to be used in a transparent way for the rights of the children.

The process of getting $10,000 is old, said minister Ojha.

A source from the ministry told that an account has been opened in Nepal Investment Bank to collect the said amount.

It is known that there are 535 files in the ministry for the year 2009. Among them, 20 children already left Nepal, 38 are waiting for the final decision, and 60 files have already finished the matching process.

Nepal has already signed the Hague Convention.





Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nepal's Adoption System Unreliable: US (Republica)






Nepal's Adoption System Unreliable: US


KIRAN CHAPAGAIN

KATHMANDU, Feb 23
: The United States has accused Nepal´s inter-country adoption of being unreliable and cautioned prospective adoptive US parents to find out orphan status of the minors before taking any decision on adoption from Nepal.

"We caution prospective adoptive parents who have yet to choose a country that the inter-country adoption system in Nepal is not yet reliable," said the US State Department in a notice last week.

The US allegation comes after the finding of US Embassy in Kathmandu which found that a child set for adoption was not a true orphan and its biological parents were actively searching for it.

The US´s concerns follow a similar allegation by The Hague Conference on Private International Law, an inter-governmental organization based in The Hague, early this month. The organization, in its report, said that the Nepal´s inter-country adoption system was marred by widespread abuses. It also urged Nepal to suspend the adoptions till the children are better protected and new legislation introduced to prevent such abuses.

The State Department said in the notice that the US shares many of the concerns outlined in The Hague report. US is the second country to respond to the report. Earlier on February 10, Germany had also suspended adoptions from Nepal on the basis of the report.

This is the second time since 2007 Nepal´s adoption system has been questioned at the international level. Nepal had faced similar allegations and had officially suspended inter-country adoptions in May 2007. The government had introduced new rules in 2008 to address the loopholes before deciding to resume adoptions in January 2009. But child rights campaigners complain that the abuses continue even after the rules were enforced.

Most Nepali children are adopted by families in Spain, Italy, the US, France and Germany. Nepal saw a surge in inter-country adoptions after 1999/2000, when the process was standardized and brought under the Ministry for Women, Children and Social Welfare.

In the meantime, a Kathmandu-based international group on adoption, which held a meeting at the US embassy on February 11 on The Hague report, is making preparations to come up with a common response to the report, most likely this week, according to an official working at the embassy of an EU country.

From myrepublica.com - a sister publication of Republica national daily:


http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=15488






Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Friday, February 19, 2010

"Choose a different country" -- Dawn Davenport






"Choose a different country" -- Dawn Davenport


I urge potential adoptive parents to be extremely cautious before choosing Nepal as a country from which to adopt. Adoptions from Nepal are highly unstable now. The Nepali government has said each agency may only process 10 adoptions per year. Children that have already been referred but not adopted are not grandfathered in and must be "unreferred" and reenter the general pool of children to be assigned. The US State Department is reporting incidents of fraudulent adoptions. Proceed with caution. Better yet, don't proceed with an adoption from Nepal. Choose a different country.

Creating a Family:

http://www.creatingafamily.org/adoption/inthenews.html


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Two articles in the Nepali Times


Two viewpoints on suspending adoptions from Nepal:




Looking for a home


MALLIKA ARYAL


The Nepal Government suspended inter-country adoption in 2007 following evidence that Nepali 'orphanages' were selling children for thousands of dollars to foreign parents. Nepal then drafted new Terms and Conditions on adoption and once again opened shop for potential adoptive parents. Although the new policies were an improvement, they were still full of loopholes and did not prioritise the best interests of the child.

In April 2009, Nepal signed the 1993 Hague Inter-country Adoption Convention. A mission representing the Convention visited Nepal, concluded the 2008 Terms and Conditions were not adequate, and called for temporary suspension of inter-country adoptions from Nepal.

Forty-four Nepali orphanages have been accredited by the government to recommend children for adoption. The Investigation Monitoring and Recommendation Committee established by the Terms and Conditions receives files from orphanages. Its role is to verify the authenticity of each child's file, following which it can recommend the child to the Family Board, which matches the child with adoptive parents.

The committee should be independent, but in Nepal includes representatives from orphanages - a blatant conflict of interest.

In addition, it is bureaucrats, not social workers, who match children with adoptive parents. Investigations focus on whether the paperwork is genuine or not, whereas they should determine if the child has parents, and if local solutions can be found. In many cases the biological parents go from one place to another looking for their children, who may have already been adopted in Kathmandu by foreign parents.

One of the key reasons Nepal suspended inter-country adoption back in 2007 was because large amounts of money (sometimes up to US$20,000) were being paid by adoptive parents to facilitators and orphanages in Nepal. Some progress has been made in regulation, but financial gain is still at the heart of most inter-country adoption abuses.

Now, once a child is officially approved for adoption, foreign adoptive parents pay $5,000 to the orphanage, regardless of the time the child has stayed there, and another $3,000 to the Nepal Government. In addition, 79 international agencies pay $10,000 per year to be accredited by the Nepal Government, regardless of whether or not referrals are made. The authorities have not checked if these foreign adoption agencies are registered in their own countries according to the Hague criteria. This means foreign agencies that have been refused accreditation, are under investigation or have been cited for violations in their own countries are allowed to operate in Nepal.

A fund was established to oversee the money received from these foreign agencies and a management committee has been established under the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare. The chairperson of the Child NGO Federation-Nepal, who basically represents Nepali orphanages, is a member secretary of this committee. But Bal Mandir and the Central Child Welfare Board are not represented.

It is clear the 2008 Terms and Conditions have failed. The German and Swedish embassies have stopped allowing adoptions under these rules. If Nepal is serious about ratifying the Hague Convention, it needs to start working on firm laws on national and international adoption. A temporary suspension will allow the government time to do so, as was done successfully in Guatemala and Cambodia. However, this suspension must not affect those adoptive parents who have been matched already.

Children without parents do not belong to orphanages. If they do not have anyone in their families they can live with it is the State's responsibility to assign appropriate guardians. There is a growing number of Nepali parents who want to adopt and can give children safe homes. Let us seriously develop foster families and in-country adoption. Only where this is not possible should we send a child abroad permanently.

READ ALSO:
Baby bajar On sale - FROM ISSUE #339 (09 MARCH 2007 - 15 MARCH 2007)
'Floodgates closed', - FROM ISSUE #387 (15 FEB 2008 - 21 FEB 2008)
'Abandoned,' - FROM ISSUE #417 (12 SEPT 2008 - 18 SEPT 2008)
Cinderella Children - FROM ISSUE #490 (19 FEB 2010 - 25 FEB 2010)



Cinderella Children


PHILIP HOLMES


Last week three Nepali boys aged 8, 9 and 10 were removed from juvenile 'homes' in Kolkata by a rescue team from the Esther Benjamins Memorial Foundation (EBMF), working in close cooperation with the Nepalese Consulate. The two oldest boys had been detained there for four years, and the youngest, Suraj, for three years.

Suraj's face still bears the scars of a vicious attack by a mentally disturbed juvenile who was also held at the centre. All three boys had originally run away from abusive step-parents. They found their way onto the streets of India and, through the police, into the juvenile detention centres.

The boys' release coincided with calls from organisations such as UNICEF and Terre des Hommes to suspend, once again, inter-country adoptions from Nepal. The organisations accuse the government of failing to meet commitments to bring the adoption process in line with the Hague Convention it ratified in 2009, and disregarding the child protection that should be central to adoption procedures. Terre des Hommes claims 62 per cent of children in 'orphanages' actually have both parents and many could be with their families.

However, orphans (genuine or otherwise) are not the whole story; government criteria include step-children as candidates for inter-country adoption. This recognises that it is common in Nepal for step-children like Suraj to be unwanted within new marital relationships.

It would be bad enough if such children were unwanted and treated as de facto slaves, like Cinderella. EBMF has found children sometimes run away from abuse to live on the streets and have been sold by step-parents to be trafficked into Indian circuses.

Arguably these children could have been cared for under family support, kinship or domestic adoption arrangements. EBMF tried the first of these to reintegrate refuge children with families, but found that material support could not buy the love of step-parents, and the children returned to the refuge. Since relatives are often directly involved in trafficking children, kinship arrangements are a very high risk option.

Domestic options, including adoption, should take precedence over inter-country adoption in line with the Hague Convention's 'Subsidiarity Principle'. But it is worth keeping in mind that Nepal has a Human Development Index (HDI) of 144, compared to such adoption destinations as the USA (HDI 13), Spain (HDI 15) and Italy (HDI 18). Suspending inter-country adoption means denying a child the prospects that droves of their fellow-Nepalis are leaving Nepal to access.

The nightmare scenario now is that the call for a blanket suspension of inter-country adoption may be heeded, and followed by another prolonged period of indecision. But reforms could be introduced very easily. The ridiculously high financial return to the government, agencies and orphanages from inter-country adoption should be reduced. Doubtful cases should be investigated thoroughly. But clear cut cases such as those of unwanted step-children should be fast-tracked for inter-country adoption before a worse fate befalls them.

Every day a child spends in a grim orphanage is a developmental disaster. Nepal's Cinderella Children should be protected by preserving what I believe to be the preferred alternative to inadequate domestic alternatives, the oblivion of India or the abyss of the domestic sex trade.

The author is the Country Director of Esther Benjamins Trust - Nepal, and the father of two adopted Nepali children. This article represents his personal views. www.ebtrust.org.uk

READ ALSO:
Looking for a home - FROM ISSUE #490 (19 FEB 2010 - 25 FEB 2010)



Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Nepal Adoption Notice -- U.S. State Department







Nepal Adoption Notice -- U.S. State Department

http://adoption.state.gov/news/nepal.html

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs

Office of Children’s Issues

________________________________


February 17, 2010

The Hague Conference on Private International Law has recently released a report on its Intercountry Adoption Technical Assistance Program, based on a visit by the Hague delegate to Nepal in November 2010(http://www.hcch.net/upload/wop/nepal_rpt09.pdf). This report is based on an independent analysis of Nepal’s inter-country adoption system under its new Terms and Conditions 2008. The report details a number of weaknesses in Nepal’s current system, including the falsification of documents, improper financial gain and lack of a child protection system.

The U.S. Department of State shares many of the concerns outlined in the Hague report. In one of the first cases processed by the Government of Nepal after the revision of the Terms and Conditions, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu found that the child in question was not a true orphan and that the child’s biological parents were actively searching for the child.

We caution prospective adoptive parents who have yet to choose a country that the intercountry adoption system in Nepal is not yet reliable. For prospective adoptive parents who currently have active files at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, we remind you that consular officers are required by law to conduct an orphan investigation (I-604) to verify the child's orphan status prior to the issuance of an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa. Depending on the circumstances of a case, this investigation may take up to several months to complete and some matched children may not be found to be adoptable under U.S. immigration law. Prospective adoptive parents should therefore carefully consider whether to file their Form I-600 Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative with the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in the U.S. or at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, as the Embassy’s I-604
investigation cannot begin until the I-600 has been filed and the documents have been reviewed by a consular officer.

The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu continues to meet with officials within the Government of Nepal and work with the Office of Children’s issues to provide updated information to the public as it becomes available.



http://adoption.state.gov/news/nepal.html


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Monday, February 15, 2010

Nepalese Child Trafficking Abuses Adoption Process (LexisNexis)







Rule of Law

2/9/2010 8:32:35 AM EST

Nepalese Child Trafficking Abuses Adoption Process:


Three years ago, Nepal temporarily suspended international adoptions because children were fraudulently identified as orphans and placed for adoption abroad without parental consent. Although adoptions resumed under new rules, The Hague Conference on Private International Law has recommended that adoptions be suspended once again because of continued abuses.

The children are often taken from parents under false pretenses of providing the minors with a better education and a higher standard of living. The children are then marketed as orphans available for adoption by couples residing in other countries.

Most adoptees end up in Western Europe or the United States. Many are separated from their siblings in the process.

Although separated from their parents, these children may be lucky in comparison to some of their counterparts. Some minor boys and girls are trafficked from Nepal for commercial sexual exploitation in brothels located in New Delhi and Mumbai.

Child trafficking, whether for profit or under the pretense of improving lives, is unacceptable. It is endemic of larger socio-economic issues underlying the abandonment of children by their parents within Nepal. According to Swiss charity Terre des hommes, more than sixty (60%) percent of children living in Nepalese orphanages have living parents.

In the short term, Nepal’s government should suspend international adoptions once again until it can create a workable mechanism that prevents children from being adopted without parental consent. To alleviate the problem long-term, the standard of living must improve to a point where parents can afford to keep and raise their children rather than selling or abandoning them to an unknowable and threatening future as a trafficked child.

Recommended Reading

Nepal 'should suspend' adoptions, BBC News (Feb. 4, 2010)

Case study: Nepali boy adopted in France, BBC News (Feb. 4, 2010)

Experts urge Nepal to ban international adoptions, AFP (Feb. 4, 2010)

U.S. report says natural disasters made more children at risk of exploitation in 2005, AP Worldstream (Sep. 7, 2006)

Hague Conference on Private International Law website







Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nepal -- the Hague report






Nepal -- the Hague report


Intercountry Adoption Technical Assistance Programme - Report of Hague Conference Mission to Nepal (23-27 November 2009):


http://www.hcch.net/upload/wop/nepal_rpt09.pdf





Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Blog reports Sweden has suspended adoptions from Nepal





A Swedish blog is reporting that Sweden has suspended adoptions from Nepal:


Today we received a call from our adoption agency. They stated that the Hague has written a report sighting several things they felt Nepal needed to address with their adoptions. Because of that report, Sweden will no longer allow adoptions from Nepal to be processed. It means that we are dead in the water. There are 3 couples that actually received referrals last October and they may not be able to go get their children (please pray for them, I don't know their names). I am thankful that I had not received a picture at this point. This does not mean that Nepal is closing adoptions, just that Sweden will not allow them to proceed. Those who follow this blog that live in different countries will need to check with their agency and their State Dept. (or central authority on adoptions) to see how they are proceeding with the Hague information.


From:





Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

German Office of Justice -- suspension of Nepali adoptions







German Office of Justice -- suspension of Nepali adoptions:

Veröffentlicht am 11. Februar 2010

Nepal

Am 9. Februar 2010 fand aufgrund der besorgniserregenden Ermittlungsergebnisse und Berichte der deutschen Botschaft in Nepal und des Ständigen Büros der Haager Konferenz ein Treffen mit Vertretern der für Nepal zugelassenen Vermittlungsstellen Diakonisches Werk, Eltern-Kind-Brücke und Help a Child, der aufsichtsführenden Zentralen Adoptionsstellen aus Mainz und Stuttgart, des Auswärtigen Amts und der Bundeszentralstelle für Auslandsadoption statt. Ergebnis der Sitzung ist die Suspendierung des Adoptionsverkehrs mit Nepal mit sofortiger Wirkung. Entsprechende Bescheide der Zentralen Adoptionsstellen an die betroffenen Auslandsvermittlungsstellen werden in nächster Zeit erwartet.


http://www.bundesjustizamt.de/cln_048/nn_257850/DE/Themen/Zivilrecht/BZAA/BZAAInhalte/Aktuelles.html



Google translate:




Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Nepal -- 6 more homes licensed for adoption







Nepal -- 6 more homes licensed for adoption:


1. Nepal Child Welfare Service Centre -- Godawari, Lalitpur

2. Community Child Rescue Centre -- Imadol, Lalitpur

3. Nepal Child Protection Home -- Khusibu, Kathmandu

4. Subharramva Child Home -- Gothathar

5. Child Base Nepal -- Gothathar

6. National Widow and Child Home for Helpless -- Banepa



Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Germany Suspends Adoptions From Nepal (Republica)






Germany Suspends Adoptions From Nepal (Republica):




KATHMANDU, Feb 11: Germany has suspended inter-country adoptions from Nepal, barely a week after a report of a group of international legal experts accused Nepal´s adoption system of being subject to widespread abuses.

Though the German Embassy in Kathmandu circulated the decision among diplomatic missions based in Kathmandu on Wednesday, the embassy is yet to inform the government officially.

A diplomatic source who received an email from the German Embassy told myrepublica.com that authorities and agencies concerned in Germany took a decision to this effect in Bonn, Germany on Tuesday. The decision is effective from Wednesday.

The source said that Germany took the decision citing lack of child protection mechanisms in Nepal.

The German decision comes six days after The Hague Conference on Private International Law, an inter-governmental organization based in Hague, called on Nepal to suspend international adoption while the system is being overhauled to ensure children are better protected. It accused Nepal´s adoption system of being marred by widespread abuses while urging Nepal to introduce new legislation to prevent such abuses.

German parents have been adopting 15-20 Nepali children on average annually from Nepal. Altogether 100 children were adopted by German families in a period of six years starting January 2004.

This is the second time Germany has suspended inter-county adoption from Nepal in three years. It had stopped adopting Nepali children in February 2007, the move that was followed by other countries then.

Nepal had faced similar allegations in 2007 and had officially suspended inter-country adoption in May 2007. The government had introduced new rules in 2008 to address the loopholes in the system before deciding to resume adoption in January 2009. But child rights campaigners complain that the abuses continue even after the rules were enforced.

Most Nepali children are adopted by families in Spain, Italy, the US, France, and Germany. Nepal saw a surge in inter-country adoptions after 1999/2000, when the process was standardized and brought under the Ministry for Women, Children, and Social Welfare.

Adoption group discusses Hague report

Meanwhile, the international adoption group based in Kathmandu discussed the report of The Hague Conference on Private International Law at the US Embassy on Wednesday.

Sources told myrepublica.com that they discussed ways to respond to the report that has pointed out abuses of the adoption system and called suspension of the inter-country adoption.

kiran@myrepublica.com











Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.
http://www.pear-now.org/