Irregularities rife in adoptions

Date: 2007-03-08

LEKHNATH PANT

KATHMANDU, March 8 - An increasing number of Nepali children - abandoned, orphaned, and even those having parents - are being adopted by foreigners in recent years, either from orphanages, or from Nepali parents willing to part with their children. However, the adoption process is rife with irregularities.

According to Gyan Bahadur Lama, member secretary of District Child Welfare Board (DCWB), Kathmandu, among problems on child adoption from Nepal allegedly are fake documents and financial irregularities. Though orphanages present all documents required for letting an orphan be adopted, some of the documents are allegedly fake, he said. There have been cases which support such allegations. Parents have claimed their children after the children were already adopted by foreigners.

Padam Bahadur Shahi, father of six-year-old Kaviraj Shahi [Kobi Raj Shahi] has blamed Chandra Man Joshi, chairperson of Tuhura Balbalika Uddar Kendra, for sending his son to Spain as an adopted child without his consent.

"Two years ago, I left my son here for his wellbeing but no agreement was made for adoption," said Shahi.

However, Joshi claimed that the boy was brought to his institution by the police. "We sent him to Spain legally with approval from the recommendation team of the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare," he said.

Despite widespread allegations of massive irregularities in the process of adoption, the number of Inter-Country Adoption (ICA) is increasing significantly. 

In the year 2006, 373 Nepali children were adopted in 17 different countries. This is 137 more than last year. Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW)began keeping data on adoptions from 2000. Ninety-four children had been adopted that year. The numbers of such children were 157, 213 and 306 in the following three years. 

According to records at the Ministry, most of the children, 449 so far, are in Spain. One child was adopted in Singapore while the rest were in European and American countries.

Earlier, most of the orphan children used to be adopted from Nepal Children's Organization. However, in recent years, most of the orphanages established in Nepal have been allowing adoption. Eighty-seven orphanages are registered with the Social Welfare Council.

Most of the orphanages allegedly demand thousands of dollars from adopting parents.

Joshi of Tuhura Balbalika Uddar Kendra, Koteshwor, who is also alleged to demand donations, refuted receiving any illegal money from foreigners. "They have no compulsion to give us money," said Joshi, adding, "But they can donate voluntarily."

The existing Act on child adoption in Nepal is not very clear on the monetary aspect of child adoption. According to Neupane, adoptive parents should pay only US $ 300 to Nepal Children's Organization for monitoring objectives, regardless of which orphanage a child is adopted from. However, orphanages are alleged to take 10,000 to 20,000 $ from adoptive parents.

DCWB's Lama said the board is investigating some orphanages to stop such irregularities.

As adoptions draw public attention, an international conference on Inter-Country Adoption, the first of its kind, is scheduled on 11th March in Kathmandu. The Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB) and Child NGO Federation Nepal (CNFN) are the main organizers of the conference. The conference seeks to support formulation of a new Act on adoption and review the adoption process.

Despite irregularities in the process of child adoption, Nepali children adopted by foreign parents are apparently fine. A team from Ministry for Women, Children and Social Welfare, led by state minister Urmila Aryal, recently visited Spain and France to look into the state of the children. CCWB executive director and the member of the study team Deepak Sapkota said that the overall condition of the adopted children was found satisfactory.

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