Friday, September 10, 2010

11 countries suspend adoption from Nepal, leaving children without a home

11 different countries have suspended adoption programs for Nepal. The suspension is due to allegations of corruption and not knowing where the adoption fees are spent. The suspension leaves many Nepali children without a loving home until the suspension is lifted.

From IPS, writer Bhuwan Sharma talks about the allegations that led to the suspension.

"Children will now have to remain in grim orphanages or may risk a worse fate by staying with families that don’t want them," says Philip Holmes, the adoptive father of two Nepali children and country director of Esther Benjamins Trust-Nepal, a U.K.-registered charity engaged in childcare and child protection and fighting child trafficking in Nepal.

Problems ranging from fake documents, lack of transparency in handling funds and corruption in the adoption process, which have been reported over the years, have led to the latest round of adoption suspensions.

Following similar allegations by recipient countries, the Nepali government suspended inter-country adoptions in May 2007, before lifting the self- imposed ban in January 2009. Intra-country adoptions were allowed to continue although local response to calls for adoption had always been very poor.

Even after the 2007 suspension and its eventual lifting, adoption problems continued to plague the tiny kingdom in the eastern Himalayas. In February, The Hague Conference on Private International Law, an inter-governmental organisation, released a report roundly criticising Nepal’s adoption system, citing gross irregularities.

In 2008, Nepal came up with the "Terms and Conditions and Process for Granting Approval for Adoption of Nepali Child by an Alien." These, however, were "not adequate as a legal framework to conduct inter-country adoptions," said the Hague Report. It added that Nepal’s refurbished laws still "fall short of Hague Convention standards."

The report recommended "better regulations of children’s homes" and elimination of "financial gain from inter-country adoption."

On Aug. 6, the U.S. government slapped a ban on inter-country adoptions from Nepal, citing the need "to protect the rights and interests of certain Nepali children and their families, and of U.S. prospective adoptive parents." Ten other countries – Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and Britain – had previously taken similar actions following the release of The Hague report.

"A few bad apples are besmirching the image of the entire sector," says Sher Jung Karki, undersecretary of the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare.

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