Friday, February 18, 2011

West not impressed by changes in adoption process (Republica)

West not impressed by changes in adoption process



KATHMANDU, Feb 19: Recent government efforts aimed at reforming its widely questioned inter-country adoption practices have failed to impress the United States, one of the main Western countries to stop adoptions from Nepal on grounds of lack of integrity in the system.

The US said the amendment in the adoption process introduced last December is not sufficient to answer questions surrounding inter-country adoptions from Nepal.

Visiting US Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs conveyed Washington´s stance on the reform initiatives during her meetings with officials from the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW) on Thursday.

“Assistant Secretary Jacobs noted 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,” said Heather Steil, spokesperson at the US embassy, when asked about the US stance on the recent reform measures.

Last December, the government, in the wake up of widespread questions over the adoption system, amended adoption-related provisions, making it mandatory for any children´s home, orphanage or children´s organization facilitating inter-country adoption to submit details about each orphan child to a Probe and Recommendation Committee (PRC) within seven days and to a Family Selection Committee (FSC) under MWCSW within 14 days after the concerned district administration office (DAO) verifies that the child in question is an ´orphan´ or a ´destitute´ seeking foster parents.

In addition, MWCSW has also made it necessary for the children´s home, orphanage or children´s organization to have been engaged for a minimum of six years in the field of child welfare to be eligible for facilitating inter-country adoptions.

The amendment has also provisioned to ´delist´ from its roaster of organizations eligible for inter-country adoption any children´s organization found involved in fraudulent practices. Once ´delisted´, such organizations will be barred from facilitating inter-country adoptions for the next five years.

Jacobs, who arrived here on Wednesday to discuss adoption issues, also conveyed the US government´s concern at lack of integrity and transparency in the adoption system.

Western countries have suspended adoptions from Nepal as investigations by The Hague Conference on Private International Law, an inter-governmental organization based in Holland, last February found the adoption system marred by widespread abuses.

Diplomatic sources told Republica that other countries are also not impressed by the recent steps taken by the government to improve the adoption system. A meeting of the adoption group - a loose alliance of Western countries whose citizens adopt Nepali children - held on January 13, had also concluded that the efforts were not sufficient. In addition, they were also against reopening adoption from Nepal. Besides the US, representatives from the embassies of Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the UK, Norway and Switzerland were present at the meeting called to discuss the reforms introduced in the adoption system in December.

“The U.S. suspension on new adoption cases involving abandoned children will remain in place until substantive progress is made on the issues raised by a February 2010 Hague Convention report,” the US embassy spokesperson further said in a statement to Republica.

The report had called on the government to overhaul the adoption system and even enact legislation so that children are better protected.

Jacobs, during her meeting with government officials here, encouraged the government to work with the international community, including The Hague Permanent Bureau, implement the Hague Convention and reform its adoption process to protect children and families.

Republica 2011-02-19

Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

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