Abstract: Most academic research on international adoption focuses on either psychological or pedagogical aspects of adoption. This research project aims to investigate the social paradigms informing practices of adoption in Nepal. It is crucial to study the ways in which international adoption is institutionalized especially when there is a huge criticism about international adaption practices in Nepal. Central in this process are adoption agencies, Child Care Homes and legal institutions. Increasingly, they have become the brokers of adoption, mediating between birth parents, orphanages, adoptive parents, and various state agents from sending and receiving countries.The general objective of the study is to review the legal procedures and gaps regarding inter and intra country adoption procedures, study the status of child care homes in the Kathmandu Valley and to identify the people’s perspective on domestic and international child adoption.The main findings and recommendations are:
1. Though the current study is located within the Kathmandu valley the results will have implication for the Nepalese policy on both domestic and intercountry adoptions.
2. From the Public Perceptions study, it is clear that in Nepal a large majority of the general public are not fully aware of the intricacies of adoption policy and processes, hence leading to misconceptions about adoptions, especially with intercountry adoptions.
3. Public perception suggests that laws and policies should be made transparent, and monitoring body is to be formed to ensure the safety of the child. The child should not be adopted until the prospective adoptive parents prove that they have sound economic condition or financial security and are committed to the child’s future and well-being.
4. The child care homes that are involved with adoption services were not very open to share their work with others, They were not entirely transparent and worried about the future of the sector.
5. The children who are currently kept at the so-called child care homes and are ready for the intercountry adoptions legally may not be real orphans. Some may be ‘paper orphans.’ Hence the government should further investigate the facts and make necessary legal and social arrangements to protect the rights of the children.
6. The international agencies that are involved in intercountry adoptions are also showing inhibition when it comes to sharing views and details of their work in Nepal. This may be due to their unclear role, uncertainties involved with the law and policy at the time the study was carried out.
7. The adoption policy is heavily contested by the different interest groups (The Hague Conference on Private International Law, Government bureaucrats, NGOs, INGOs, Law makers, Media, Embassies Child care homes, Academic and research institutes) in Nepal and hence the policy is an outcome of push and pulls factors.
8. The evidence suggests that 35 percent of respondents opined that they do not pay attention to caste, while 16 percent of the respondents remarked that categorization (age, sex, caste or religion) does not make any difference to them. It is very encouraging and the government policies should further encourage domestic adoption in Nepal.
9. There are ample opportunities to encourage domestic adoptions but this is not yet fully explored both by government and non governmental institutions. A useful approach could be to start with foster care families and progressively encourage domestic adoption practices in Nepal. Domestic adoptions based on only social arrangements, with no legal foundation should not be allowed.
10. On the basis of the results this study strongly recommends that Nepal should ratify the Hague Convention as soon as possible and make rules for institutions involved in adoption to follow the Convention and other international ethical standards and practices.
11. This study shows the evidence that there are lacunas in the adoption policy formulation in the country. The majority of the respondents interviewed stated that they are not aware of the current policies and were not consulted or involved in the policy making. This suggests that the policy making is guided by self interests of few stakeholders and hence may not work in the best interests of the child.
12. There is a need for trained human resources ( trained social workers and child psychologists) to work in the child care/orphanages as the study found that the staff working in the current homes are not trained in general and not skilled to work with children with difficulties.
13. The study strongly recommends that no child should be placed outside his or her family unless it serves the child’s best interests. The institutional care/model to address the issue of orphans (especially in the case of double orphans) also needs further investigation and policy dialogue in Nepal.
14. Further academic research in this area is urgently needed to provide inputs policy making process in the country and also to provide alternative approaches to intercountry adoption.
Keywords: Nepal,Children, International Adoptions, Domestic Policies