U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
Caution About Pursuing Adoption in Nepal
May 26, 2010
The U.S. Department of State strongly discourages prospective adoptive parents from choosing adoption in Nepal because of grave concerns about the reliability of Nepal’s adoption system and the accuracy of the information in children’s official files. The Department also strongly discourages adoption service providers from accepting new applications for adoption from Nepal until reforms are made, and asks them to be vigilant about possible unethical or illegal activities under the current adoption system.
The Hague Conference on Private International Law recently released a report on its Intercountry Adoption Technical Assistance Program, based on a visit by a delegate from the Hague Conference’s Permanent Bureau to Nepal in November 2009, available at (http://www.hcch.net/upload/wop/nepal_rpt09.pdf). This report is the result of an independent analysis of Nepal’s intercountry adoption system under the new Terms and Conditions put in place in 2008. The report details a number of weaknesses in Nepal’s adoption system, including ongoing concern about the falsification of documents, improper financial gain, and lack of a child protection system.
Although the U.S. Embassy in Nepal has only seen a handful of adoption cases since the new Terms and Conditions went into effect, we share many of the concerns outlined in the Hague report. As a case in point, 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 adopted child was not a true orphan and that the birth parents were actively searching for the child.
We encourage parents who have filed an application with the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW) in Nepal, but have not yet been matched with a child or received an Adoption Decree issued by the Government of Nepal, to consider a change of countries. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allow one change of country to be made in connection with one’s I-600A application without fee. A request to change countries should be made in writing to the USCIS Field Office where the I-600A was originally filed. More information about how to request a change of country can be found on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov (Any subsequent request for a change of country would require a fee.).
Hague-accredited U.S. adoption services providers, and adoption service providers that may apply for Hague accreditation in the future are reminded that their actions in facilitating and/or processing adoptions in any country (whether Hague or non-Hague) will be evaluated during the Hague accreditation or accreditation renewal processes in accordance with the accreditation regulations (22 CFR Part 96), including whether, among other things, the provider has established and rigorously followed ethical adoption practices and operates in the best interest of prospective adoptive children.
Consular Officers are required to conduct an I-604 investigation to verify the child’s orphan status prior to immigrant visa processing. We generally rely upon the host government’s diligence to protect the safety and interests of their own children through careful administration of their national adoption process and use the I-604 investigation to confirm that this process has been followed. Because Nepal’s adoption process is questionable, it can be very difficult to satisfy the requirements of the I-604 investigation. Thus, these investigations could take a matter of months. Prospective adoptive parents are advised that they need to have flexible travel plans and be prepared to stay in Nepal while awaiting the results of the I-604 investigation or plan to make two trips (one to finalize the adoption and a second after the I-604 investigation is completed to bring their child home.)
When an I-600 is adjudicated by USCIS in the United States, consular officers must then conduct an I-604 investigation once the approved petition reaches the Embassy in Nepal to verify the child’s orphan status prior to immigrant visa processing. For I-600 applications filed at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, the I-604 investigation is initiated after the prospective adoptive parents have appeared before a consular officer to sign the application.
Both DOS and USCIS recognize that it would be preferable for the I-604 investigations to be completed earlier in the process. However, under current procedures, the U.S. Embassy cannot begin the I-604 investigation until the PAPs have filed their I-600 application and have submitted the necessary documents pertaining to the adoptive child, such as police reports, newspaper announcements and certification of orphan status. The Department of State and USCIS are currently in discussion about possible ways to revise the procedures under U.S. Government control to mitigate this problem.
The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu continues to meet with officials within the Government of Nepal and with other foreign missions concerning the current status of adoptions in Nepal. The February 25, 2010 joint statement issued by the International Adoption Working Group (an ad hoc group of Embassies in Nepal who have an interest in intercountry adoption issues) may be found at http://nepal.usembassy.gov/pr-2-24-2010.html.
Adoptive parents may contact the Embassy at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have questions.
Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.