Friday, February 18, 2011

US bar on Nepali kids' adoption to stay (Kantipur)

US bar on Nepali kids' adoption to stay



KATHMANDU, FEB 18 - Visiting US Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affair Janice Jacob has said that the ban on inter-country adoption from Nepal would remain despite some changes to the adoption process in Nepal.

“The US suspension of inter-country adoption will remain in place until substantive progress is made on the issues raised by a February 2010 Hague Convention report,” said Heather Steil, Spokesperson for the American Embassy in Kathmandu. Assistant Secretary Jacob feels that recent changes to the adoption process in Nepal are "inadequate" to address concerns about the origin of the children being matched for inter-country adoption.

The US decision continues to affect over 80 prospective American parents who have already gone through meticulous paperwork for adoption of Nepali children. Though it is not clear how many American parents have adopted Nepali children so far, according to the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW), over 2400 children have been adopted since 2000 by parents in western countries.

The US government in August last year suspended the inter-country adoption involving abandoned children from Nepal questioning the authenticity of the system that has been marred by “fraud and irregularities.”

Jacob—who met officials in the Foreign Ministry, MoWCSW and Prime Minister's Office—encouraged the Nepali officials to work with the international community, including The Hague Permanent Bureau, to implement The Hague Convention and reform its adoption process to protect children and families.

The US government's decision to suspend adoption from Nepal follows a report last February by Hague Conference on Private International Law, an intergovernmental organisation. The report, based on investigation by a group of lawyers, had alleged systemic failure in Nepal's adoption system with widespread abuse and had called for suspension of adoption from Nepal until the system was reformed. Since then, ten other countries—Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and Britain—have officially and unofficially suspended adoption from Nepal.

Last year as well, a team from the Department of State had visited Nepal to interact with government officials. The team investigated numerous abandonment cases, including field visits to orphanages and police departments. Its investigation found that documents presented to describe and "prove" abandonment of children in Nepal were unreliable. The US then said in a statement that civil documents such as children's birth certificates often included data that had been changed or fabricated.

Tilak Ram Sharma, acting Secretary of MoWCSW, met Jacob and said that addressing US concerns would take time. He said inter-country adoption was not a priority of the government. "Our primary focus will be to strengthen the domestic adoption in place of inter-country adoption," Sharma said.

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

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