Child abuses on rise in Nepal due to international adoption

from: hindu.com

New York (PTI): The international adoption business in Nepal has created a culture of child abuse including the abduction, trafficking and sale of children, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and a private body have said in a report released on Saturday.

"Child rights, not profit, must be at the centre of all adoptions in Nepal," says the study by UNICEF and 'Terre des Hommes' (TDH), an international NGO. "An industry has grown up around adoption in which profit rather than the best interests of the child takes centre stage," said UNICEF Nepal Representative Gillian Mellsop.

Only four out of every 100 children adopted in Nepal are adopted by a Nepali family and many children put up for adoption are not orphaned but are separated from their families. Of the some 15,000 children in orphanages or children's homes, a significant number are the result of fraud, coercion or malpractice, according to the 62-page report.

The report's main recommendation is the cessation of inter-country adoption until safeguards are in place protecting the rights of children in orphanages and significantly raising their standard of care.

"The vast majority of children in centres don't need to be there," said Joseph Aguettant, Tdh Country Representative in Nepal. "They have family. The first priority, therefore, should be to reunite 80 per cent of the children in institutions with their families, not to re-open inter-country adoption."

0

Nepal needs tighter rules on international adoption: UN

from: afp.google.com

KATHMANDU (AFP) — Nepal needs stricter regulations for foreigners wishing to adopt children from the impoverished country, the UN said Friday.

International adoptions were suspended in June 2007 after reports of widespread corruption and middlemen charging prospective parents up to 20,000 dollars, in a country where the annual per capita income is 350 dollars.

"An industry has grown up around adoption in which profit rather than the best interests of the child takes centre stage," said Gillian Mellsop, the country director for UNICEF at the launch of a report.

The 62-page report found "abuse such as the sale, abduction and trafficking of children is taking place."

Many of the centres where around 12,000 abandoned or orphaned children are placed for adoption provided inadequate care and protection, the report said.

In addition, most of the children questioned over the six-month research period had relatives who they could live with instead of being put up for adoption.

In May, Nepal's government announced new rules for international adoption, but they do not go far enough, said Marlene Hofstetter, from child rights group Terre Des Hommes, which jointly produced the report with UNICEF.

"Even these these new terms and conditions can be circumvented. The whole process needs to be controlled from the government from the very beginning," she said.

Government figures show 2,201 children have been adopted by foreigners in the past seven years.

NEPAL: Concern rising over illegal adoptions

from: irinnews.org

KATHMANDU, 2 September 2008 (IRIN) - For the past four years, 35-year-old Nirmala Thapa has been fighting to get her three children back from Spain after they were adopted illegally through a Nepalese children’s home.

“It looks like a hopeless situation for her. She was tricked into signing all the legal documents to give up her claim on her children,” Madhav Pradhan, director of Child Workers in Nepal (CWIN), an NGO helping to protect children, told IRIN.

Thapa experienced financial hardship after her husband died and could not afford to send her six children to school, of whom three were younger than 10.

A local children’s home offered to shelter and educate her three youngest children and she was asked to sign a document. But Thapa could not read the papers, a legal document giving up her children for adoption. After several months, she learned her children had been sent abroad.

Despite her appeal for their return, the children’s home threatened her with arrest and legal action.

Local authorities refused to help, claiming that she had given up parental rights and that the adoption had been approved by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, which makes the final decision on adoptions, according to CWIN.

Sale of children

A recent report, A study on inter-country adoption and its influence on child protection in Nepal by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Swiss NGO for child relief, Terre des hommes Foundation (TDH), revealed that the sale, abduction and trafficking of children was taking place in an under-regulated environment.

The 62-page report was the result of six-month study conducted by researchers from a national NGO, the Centre for Research on Environment, Health and Population Activities and child rights advocates in Nepal.

Photo: Naresh Newar/IRIN
Many mothers in Nepal have unwillingly given up their children for adoption

“We are not against adoption,” said UNICEF Nepal representative Gillian Mellsop, but warned that an industry had grown up around adoption in which profit took precedence over the best interests of the child.

“In every case, the best interests of the individual child must be the guiding principle in making a decision regarding adoption. It should not be guided by the interests of those working with children, or others who profit financially from organising inter-country adoptions,” Mellsop said.

“Most of the children in centres don’t need to be there. They have family, extended family that may be able to provide care,” said TDH country representative Joseph Aguettant.

There are 15,000 children in orphanages or children’s homes across the Himalayan nation and a significant number of admissions are a result of fraud, coercion and malpractice, he said.

Lucrative business

The inter-country adoption business in Nepal is a multi-million dollar industry, according to child rights activists.

In 2006 alone, a turnover of nearly US$2 million was recorded and is expected to be significantly higher for 2007, with 300-500 adoptions.

“The profiteers are largely the children’s homes running orphanages and corrupt government officials,” maintained one child rights activist, who asked not to be named.

Activists are concerned that the lucrative business of inter-country adoption of Nepalese children - with clients from Europe and the USA willing to spend as much as $25,000 per child – increases the risk of abduction, trafficking and the illegal sale of children by children’s homes.

“I spent nearly $30,000 to pay the agent in my country, the local children’s home, lawyers, and processing the documents,” said one Spanish parent, who did not want to be named.

“Our concern is that children are often falsely claimed as orphans and sold for adoption to foreign clients who are unaware of the malpractices of their local agents,” said Madhav Pradhan, director of CWIN. In the past year it has rescued more than 15 children from impoverished villages in western Nepal, whose parents were persuaded to send them to homes on the pretext of a sponsored education.

Reform process

Government monitoring of the centres involved in inter-country adoption remains weak, while the absence of monitoring in rural areas has placed more children at risk, according to UNICEF and TDH.

“The government remains committed to fulfill its obligation towards the children and will therefore take appropriate measures in line with the international instruments,” said Punya Prasad Neupane, a senior government official and secretary of the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare.

The government had initiated the drafting of an Adoption Act, which could introduce reforms to inter-country adoption, he explained.

However, activists doubt whether such reforms could introduce a strong mechanism to control the lucrative adoption industry, said CWIN’s Pradhan.

Just a "minor" flaw, wouldn't you say?

How can I not react to the following situation:

For the past four years, 35-year-old Nirmala Thapa has been fighting to get her three children back from Spain after they were adopted illegally through a Nepalese children’s home.

“It looks like a hopeless situation for her. She was tricked into signing all the legal documents to give up her claim on her children,” Madhav Pradhan, director of Child Workers in Nepal (CWIN), an NGO helping to protect children, told IRIN.

Thapa experienced financial hardship after her husband died and could not afford to send her six children to school, of whom three were younger than 10.

A local children’s home offered to shelter and educate her three youngest children and she was asked to sign a document. But Thapa could not read the papers, a legal document giving up her children for adoption. After several months, she learned her children had been sent abroad.

Despite her appeal for their return, the children’s home threatened her with arrest and legal action.

Local authorities refused to help, claiming that she had given up parental rights and that the adoption had been approved by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, which makes the final decision on adoptions, according to CWIN.

This is just a hideous example of how an UNINFORMED consent can ruin a person's life and family.  I suppose because this woman is poor, child-placement workers thought she can afford to lose her children.  How sick is it the under-handed game was played by a children's home?  [Is there NO safety for those who have no help from extended family?]

Nothing gets me more angry than this notion that a contract signed means ALL parties are aware of ALL consequences.  [And people wonder why I don't like signing my name to anything!]

Now, some may think this "un-informed consent" problem exists only in third-world countries, where the poor have no education, and clearly don't know any better.  [Ahhh, can you smell the hunt for children taking place when money speaks and parents won't be the wiser because some people will sign anything to take care of a grave situation?  I wonder how many who sign these "parental consent-forms" knew/know what consequences they will eventually be facing?]

Consider how "Informed Consent" operates in America.   From what I have always understood, minors could not consent to health-care services unless that consent was counter-signed by a parent/guardian.  But look at the exceptions given to that health-care rule: 

A minor may consent for medical, mental, or other health services for the following:

  • to determine the presence or treatment of pregnancy and conditions associated with pregnancy
  • for sexually transmitted infections
  •  for alcohol or other drug abuse (Minn. Stat. § 144.343, subd. 1)

In addition, minors may consent for:

  • hepatitis B vaccinations (Minn. Stat. § 144.3441) and
  • blood donation (only those 17 and over) (Minn. Stat. § 145.41).

[From Minor's Consent for Health Care, updated July 2008, http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/issinfo/ssminorhc.pdf]

Wow... look at all the ways child-protection and family services works in the favor of a child and family!  I'm thinking adoption laws have a lot to do with these "consent-exceptions", so I think schools around the world need to start teaching lessons on how to read a "legal contract", especially if there are those in school who think "unprotected" sex can lead to parenthood.

Pound Pup Legacy