Tuesday, May 10, 2011

U.S. Still Suspects Fraud In Nepalese Orphanages (NPR)

U.S. Still Suspects Fraud In Nepalese Orphanages

by Monica Brady-Myerov

May 10, 2011

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All Things Considered -- National Public Radio

Photo -- Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images

The Helpless Children Protection Home is an orphanage in Katmandu. Last August, the U.S. government suspended adoptions from Nepal because it was concerned about fraud in Nepal's adoption system — and there's still concern.

May 10, 2011 from WBUR

Last August, the U.S. government suspended adoptions from Nepal because it was concerned about fraud in Nepal's adoption system. The suspension left dozens of American families in limbo.

After months of investigations almost all of those American families have been granted visas for their adopted Nepali children.

But there's still concern about whether many of Nepal's orphans really are orphans.

Children Sold By Traffickers

The desire to be a mother was so strong for 45-year-old Dee Dee Milton that she went halfway around the world from Boston to Nepal to try to achieve it.

"I tried to adopt through the American foster system here and was not matched with a child and was told they had no idea when I would be matched and if I would ever be matched," she says.

In July, Milton was matched with a 4-year-old Nepali girl. Just after Milton landed in Nepal and took custody of her daughter, Bina, the U.S. closed the program, saying too many children who were reported to be abandoned by their families may actually have been kidnapped or sold into the orphanage system.

Milton and 65 other American families were caught in the middle. Milton ended up living in Nepal and hiring lawyers and investigators to help prove Bina was legitimately abandoned. Milton had to take out a home equity line of credit to afford the delay.

"I was on an unpaid leave from my job, so I literally had no funds coming in the entire time I was gone and then came home to unemployment," she says.

"In the worst cases I've seen ...they are actually forging death certificates for families and putting these children up for international adoption."

- Conor Grennan, founder of Next Generation Nepal, an NGO that has reconnected 400 trafficked children with their families

Janice Jacobs, assistant secretary of state for consular affairs, says while she sympathizes with what Milton went through, Nepal's child adoption system isn't trustworthy.

"They estimate — the NGOs with a lot of on-the-ground experience — estimate that perhaps 10 percent of the children who turn up in orphanages are in fact abandoned," she says.

That means as many as 90 percent of children in Nepalese orphanages may have been sold by a child trafficker under false pretenses. UNICEF estimates there are 650,000 orphans in Nepal.

Conor Grennan says that happens all the time. He's the founder of Next Generation Nepal, an NGO that has reconnected 400 trafficked children with their families. He says some of the children have been kidnapped. Other children have been sold by their families to brokers, who claim they will educate and care for them.

"And in the worst cases I've seen ... they are actually forging death certificates for families and putting these children up for international adoption," Grennan says.

Grennan says the child trade continues because it's lucrative. Orphanages can make $5,000 per child from an international adoption — a lot of money in a country where more than half of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day, according to UNICEF.

Difficult To Prove Fraud

Five months after Milton went to Nepal, Bina got a U.S. visa once a government investigation found no fraud. Now Bina lives a typical life of an American little girl, attending preschool, visiting her nana and tormenting her cat.

Eventually, U.S. investigators determined there was no fraud in the cases of 65 of the 66 children waiting to be adopted by American families. Only one is still pending, which leads Milton to ask: Where is the fraud?

"I mean, the law of averages and the number of cases — [and] there was absolutely no fraud found?" Milton says.

But proving fraud is very hard, says Grennan. He says the only way is to travel to mountainous villages.

"There's no roads here," Grennan says. "You have to put on a backpack and you have to walk through the mountains and you have to get to the village and you have to say this is where the child is from, are the parents still alive or are they not? To me, that is the proof," he says.

The investigation of Bina Milton and the others was done by a government agency outside Nepal. Jacobs of the State Department says you can't draw conclusions about the adoption system in Nepal from those investigations. She says Nepal will have to make sweeping changes to its child welfare system if the U.S. is to reopen adoption.

"They have to work on a system that builds in better protections for these children and they also have to find ways to look for domestic solutions," she says.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Child adoption process to become more credible (The Himalayan Times)

Child adoption process to become more credible

The Himalayan Times


KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW) is working on the recommendations of the Permanent Bureau of The Hague Conference on Private International Law to make the adoption process more credible and reliable.

The ministry is gearing up to implement recommendations forwarded by the Permanent Bureau.

The Bureau has recommended that the country control the number of adoption files by publicising detailed profiles of adoptable children on their website. It recommended that recipient countries submit an existing file before working on a new file in the adoption process and provide a chance to older children to express their views and experience on the process.

“We will support almost all the points forwarded by the Permanent Bureau but have some problems in implementing recommendations on the financial aspects due to political instability,” said Sher Jung Karki, undersecretary at the ministry. Recipient states should encourage their development aid bodies to contribute to development of child protection system in Nepal so that Nepal does not have to request adoptive parents and Adoption Accredited Bodies (AAB) to contribute to orphanages (US$ 5,000 and US$ 10,000 respectively).

We have been asked to collect information on the origin of children, including police report and interviews of older children to make the process more reliable and effective, informed Karki.

As per the recommendation, the country will work only with AAB under the Hague Convention and delist agencies that did not process any case in the last ten years. Karki further added they had asked for monitoring the AAB website to ensure accurate information.

The Permanent Bureau, receiving states and organisations will provide assistance to Nepal to develop adequate legal framework for child protection and adoption, mentioned the recommendation, urging the country to recognise the need to make changes and improvements before ratifying the Hague Convention.

The Bureau has also emphasised importance of recipient states being assured that all documentation surrounding the status of the child, adoptability and adoption have been carefully scrutinised and authenticated. They also sought regulation and transparency in costs and fees, and their use.

The Himalayan Times:


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Left in limbo: Nepalese adoptions halted (PBS)

Left in limbo: Nepalese adoptions halted (PBS)

On Mother’s Day weekend, adoptive parents on the verge of bringing home a child find themselves caught between two governments.

By Habiba Nosheen and Lisa Desai

May 6, 2011

The U.S. State Department has suspended adoption of abandoned Nepalese children, citing numerous examples of unreliable and possibly fraudulent documents.

For Dee Dee Milton and 70 other American families who were in the midst of finalizing adoptions from Nepal, the new U.S. policy left them in limbo. The onus was now on those families to prove that the child they wanted to adopt is a legitimate orphan.

Need to Know traveled to Nepal to meet American adoptive parents who are fighting to bring their adopted children home, as well as Nepalese biological parents whose children were put up for adoption without their consent.


Ethics, Transparency, Support
~ What All Adoptions Deserve.