Nepalese children are left in difficult situation with rocky adoption policies

Nearly 80 families have been left waiting for months to complete the adoption process and bring home a child from Nepal.

Some dropped the process altogether; others continue to pursue the adoption.

On the other side, even more relinquished children are left yearning for a place to call home after U.S. joined 10 other countries in suspending adoption from the South Asian country.

Following the release of a report by The Hague Conference on Private International Law, the U.S. State Department discontinued adoption of supposedly abandoned Nepali children due to concerns over child trafficking, fabrication of documents and an overall lack of a child protection system from Nepal’s government. Their adoption system has been deemed unreliable after investigators found that many of the children adopted were in fact not orphans and that their parents are actively searching for them.

Currently, U.S. is only allowing the adoption of children whose birthparents are known. However, the number of children with that kind of documentation is limited because of the conflict with Nepal’s culture, said Chuck Johnson, president and CEO of National Council for Adoption (NCFA), an adoption advocacy nonprofit that is against U.S.’s decision. According to sophomore microbiology major Deepak Basnet, who emigrated from Nepal only four years ago, the limitation is attributed to the fear from the biological parents.

“Parents think that their child will not be well protected and that they might be used for personal benefits,” Basnet said.

On top of that, very few women are willing to openly give up their children, choosing instead to anonymously abandon the newborn.

“In Nepal… being pregnant and not married can be seen as a disgrace,” Johnson said.

Basnet agreed.

“They might feel that that they have to secretly abandon their… because the society might not appreciate it,” he said. “Single mother might have to face [people] talking against her for not being able to raise her own child.”

Without information of where the children came from, officials in Nepal cannot be certain that they had not been kidnapped and sold for profit. And while the ban does seem logical, NCFA believes it not only leaves families heartbroken and anxious, but it also ruins the childhood and future for many abandoned children.

Unlike the U.S., adoption is not very popular in Nepal, so what becomes of these abandoned children depend heavily on the demand from international families.

“The acceptance of domestic adoption is not very common,” Johnson said. “The country is not like the U.S. in which abandoned children have equal rights as biological children.”

The ban makes it difficult for the children to survive as they will age unsupported and unprepared for when they reach their adolescent years. It also puts these children at a high risk of being trafficked to India for prostitution and other illegal activities, Johnson argued.

One way or another, the issue of preventing trafficking must be prevented and the states see suspension as an appropriate start. Protestors, however, see various alternative routes that both Nepal and U.S. agencies can take. They argue for severe punishment of traffickers, increase diligence in the monitoring the adoption process by both U.S. and Nepal agencies and implementation of Hague’s standards of adoption.

But so far, said Johnson, the international community is not seeing that happen.

“To give up before a child ends his childhood,” said Johnson, “that is unaccepatable.”

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