Nepal -- Victims of Balmandir


Victims of Balmandir

In March of 2004, a mysterious slowdown began in Nepali adoptions. Few (if any) placement agencies were upfront about what was going on. Most spun one lie after another.

In fact, on March 8th, 2004, Taja Khabar published "Victims of Balmandir," and Nepali adoptions slowed to a crawl. The article alleged child trafficking at Nepal Children's Organization (NCO/Bal Mandir) and described a reputed adoption without consent to the United States.

Here is an English translation (name of adoptive child removed):

Victims of Balmandir at the Refuge of Palace

Taja Khabar Weekly

8th March 2004

Kathmandu

Balmandir, which was established to provide protection to the orphan and helpless children, has now become a centre for openly selling children. The institute in which Her Majesty Queen Mother Ratna Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah is sponsor, is selling children -- may be you do not believe this, but it's true.

According to sources, when tension between Ganga Bahadur Tamang and his wife Manju Tamang (residents of Sindhupalchowk district, Attarpur Village Development Committee, Ward no. 4) started increasing, their sons, namely Tensing Tamang and P****** Tamang, were sent to Balmandir.

After some time, on 1st September 2003, Balmandir Naxal, published a notice asking for anyone to claim the children. According to the letter (dispatch no. 451 and 384 of Ward Police Office Lainchaour dated 25th August 2003), from 27th August 2003, these children were staying in Balmandir, and it informed the parents of these children (or any claimant) to claim. In two days, the father, Ganga Bahadur Tamang, with the claim letter registration no. 386 claimed the children at Balmandir Naxal. But the Balmandir employees delayed by giving false excuses that there was not enough proof. Only after long follow up, did Balmandir hand over Tensing Tamang to his father. But when an employee of Balmandir, Ramarishna Subedi, informed the guardians that P****** Tamang, brother of Tensing Tamang, had been sent to America, they were surprised. This is not the only case in Balmandir -- more than 20 children a month in the name of adoption are sold to foreigners and are given permission to be taken abroad, and thus the hefty amount gained in this process is divided among them. Obviously this is also the subject of investigation.

After his younger son was sold by Balmandir, the father has been wandering around. He said that he did not know where to go for justice; whereas the uncle and aunt of the child said that they will go to Her Majesty the Queen Mother for justice. Sharing the bitter experience when he went to claim the child,  the Former President of Lisankhu VDC of Sindhupalchowk district, Samlit Yonjan, said Balmandir is an institution which sells children.

The institution in which Her Majesty Queen Mother Ratna Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah is the sponsor ("preserver") and Rita Singh Baidya, the daughter of late Ganeshman Singh, is the President has involved itself in selling children and taking commission. It is known that in the process of selling children and taking commission present office secretary Rajeshwor Niraula, President Rita Singh Baidya, employee Ram Krishna Subedi, some police personnel and some child trafficking agents are involved.

Taja Khabar (8 March 2004)

Translation by Nisith Kumar Shrivastawa

The Taja Khabar controversy (that spring of 2004) seriously slowed adoptions through the Kathmandu CDO (Chief District Officer).

With the Nirmala Thapa scandal that summer, adoptions through the Kathmandu CDO came to a complete halt. See Samay National Weekly for details (three alleged adoptions without consent to Spain):

http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/43603

Finally, with the Mukti Nepal scandal in September 2004, Nepali adoptions shut down completely.

Mukti Nepal -- alleged torture of a birth parent (a sibling was in mid-adoption to the United States):

The Himalayan Times

Duped whammy: Torture follows trickery

Razen Manandhar

Kathmandu

September 25, 2004

A man, whose two sons are with an NGO, Mukti Nepal, was accused of being a Maoist and had to face mental and physical torture when he went to meet his kids. In December, NGO Mukti Nepal took Pawan Karki (6) and Pravesh Karki (4), sons of a low-income labourer, Mitra Bahadur Thapa, a resident of Jorpati, assuring him that his kids would get free education up to Grade 10 and may get a chance to study aboard if he agreed to present the children as orphans. Since then Thapa was not allowed to see his sons, neither was he informed about their whereabouts. However, on Wednesday, he decided to visit Mukti Nepal office at Balaju with three sympathisers from CWIN and other organisations. But he was not only denied to meet the children but was accused of being armed Maoist.

He was then handed over to Royal Nepalese Army, who blindfolded him for over 24 hours and grilled him to ascertain the NGO's claim. When nothing incriminating was found, the RNA released him and he was sent to Balaju Police Post. From there, the three who had accompanied him to Mukti Nepal office took him to Kathmandu Chief Administration Office. He apprised the Chief District Officer of his ordeal and pleaded that he be united with his sons. CDO Baman Prasad Upadhyaya coordinated with the police leading to the detention of Mukti Nepal activists, Goma Luitel and Dipa Sharma, last nigh. They were, however, later released on the condition that they would return the children to Thapa as soon as possible. Though the younger child is with the NGO, the elder boy has been sent to Spain.

Thapa, who hails from Sankhuwasabha district, told The Himalayan Times that when he went to Mukti Nepal office Goma Luitel called a man, who claimed to be a security personnel. "He threatened us and sent others who were with me home. I was beaten up and handed over to army, who blindfolded me and took me to an undisclosed place," said Thapa. In fact, it was Goma and Dipa who handed over Thapa to the army, claiming that four armed Maoists entered her office with threats. She told the RNA that while three escaped, Thapa was apprehended.

THE HIMALAYAN TIMES

http://www.stichting-veldwerk.org/projecten02_e/nepali_children_homes.html

Mukti Nepal  -- another children's home with powerful friends:

"AIGP of Nepal police Dr. Govinda Prasad Thapa, Dr. of maternity Hospital Dr. Mrs Kastiri Malla and Chairperson of MUKTI NEPAL Goma Luitel distributing clothes and other necessary articles to mothers from the conflict ridden zone."

http://muktinepal.org/activities.html

About Dr Govinda Prasad Thapa

Dr. Govinda Prasad Thapa (MA, BL, MPA, PhD) has served 31 years in Nepal Police and just recently retired (15 March 2006) as Additional General of Police (AGP) of  Nepal Police. His field of expertise include human trafficking, issues relating to women and children, security and terrorism, criminal justice and community policing. He has lead many sensitive investigations and initiated many projects such as protection of human rights and Law reforms while serving for the force, and he has associated his works with networks such as Center for Victims of Torture, SAATHI, Maiti Nepal, ABC Nepal  and SAARCPOL.

http://www.digitalshristy.com/lc/mar30-gpthapa.html

Dr. Kasturi Malla
Treasurer, MIRA
Director and Sr. Consultant Gynecologist and Obstetrician, Maternity Hospital, Thapathali, Kathmandu

http://www.mira.org.np/training.htm

In any case, Nepal's 2004 adoption shutdown was short-lived.

That autumn, facilitator Prachanda Raj Pradhan met with the prime minister (Sher Bahadur Deuba), and Nepal's shutdown soon came to an abrupt end.

Oddly enough, Pradhan was the facilitator at the center of P****** Tamang's reputed adoption without consent to the U.S. (see Taja Khabar -- above).

A controversial figure in Nepali adoptions -- Pradhan is currently the head of the Child NGO Federation Nepal (CNFN). See PEAR Nepal:

Prachanda Raj Pradhan -- head of the Child NGO Federation Nepal (CNFN)

http://pearadoptinfo-nepal.blogspot.com/2010/03/prachanda-raj-pradhan-head-of-child-ngo.html

The Rising Nepal (the government newspaper) best described the brief 2004 shutdown:

Trend to adopt children rising: Experts

By Indira Aryal

KATHMANDU, Nov. 15: Every year more than 300 children are sent abroad for adoption. About 2,450 children have already gone abroad as adopted children since adoption was legalised by the Civil Code 27 years ago.

Last year, 350 children were taken abroad as adopted children. "Looking at the current trend, this year the number could cross 400," Sharad Sharma, president of Child Development Society, said.

But, sometimes controversies rage on issues of adoption. The government had stopped the processing of adoption about one-and-a-half months ago.

Joint-Secretary at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare Kiran Siwakoti said that the process was stopped to make the process transparent and the method more effective. But the process was resumed from Monday and Sharma said nothing was done to improve the process. "We do not know why it was stopped and why it was restarted under the same cabinet decision made four years ago," he said.

There are 13 orphan homes that are permitted to send Nepalese children for adoption abroad, said Sharma. But the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare puts the number at 16. The Sixth amendment of the Civil Code had opened the door for Nepalese children to be adopted by foreigners and to be taken abroad. "But we do not have any rule or regulation for adoption," said Sharma.

The Nepal Children's Organisation was the first organisation to start giving children for adoption. For four years it was the only organisation to give Nepalese children for adoption and it still does so. But it does not have the record of how many children it gave for adoption.

Then for 20 years, the Home Ministry started keeping record of the children who are given for adoption. During the 20 years, the Ministry has record of 1,200 children adopted by foreigners. Now, this job is done by the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare for the last four years. In the last four years, the Ministry said 900 children had gone out as adopted children. The Ministry's record shows Nepalese children are adopted by foster parents in 22 countries and 189 children have been adopted by Italian foster parents. Spain has 152 and 110 have gone to America. France is the fourth largest country adopting 95 children.

According to the Ministry, it is processing the application of 900 more children. It did not say how long it will take, but they are most likely to be adopted in the coming years.

Sharma said there are 13 children homes, including the NCO, which is also allowed to give children for adoption. But the Ministry puts the number at 16. There are 250 children's homes registered with the government.

The Civil Code has a provision for regular monitoring of the Nepalese children given for adoption. Any foreigner adopting a child has to pay US$ 300 as fee to facilitate the monitoring. The money goes to the Nepal Children's Organisation, whose job is to monitor the children's growth and development.

Apart from the money, the adopting parents do not have to pay anything, but there are reports of the Children's Homes charging extra money from the adopting parents. "It could be anywhere between US$ 5,000 to Rs. 10,000," said Sharma.

But the Ministry denies of having any knowledge of such money being taken. "We ask the parents to inform us if they are charged extra money, but we have not received any complaint." Giving Nepalese children for adoption is less a problem than to monitor how they are faring in foreign land and with foreign parents. Although about Rs. 10 million is collected every year as fee, but there has been no monitoring for many years, Sharma said.

Last year for Women, Children and Social Welfare Minister Renu Yadav had gone to Italy for monitoring after three years. Sharma said that regular monitoring was necessary and have to give exact information and progress report of the children. He said that almost 95 per cent of the children are in good families. Some of the children, who have gone to Europe, have faced difficulties adjusting in the community because of the colour of hair, skin and appearance.

Sharma cites some of the problems that come up in the adoption process as: there are cases of children being brought to Kathmandu telling their parents and relatives that they would be put in schools. Once in Kathmandu, the children are portrayed as orphans and put for adoption.

All children who are to be given for adoption should be brought to public notice for claims with a disclaimer that they could be given for adoption. But Sharma said sometimes wrong identities are given and unclear photographs are put on advertisements to confuse the parents and relatives.

But the Ministry said that there was no case of parents coming to claim their children after they are away with their adopted parents.

http://web.archive.org/web/20050321161513/http://www.gorkhapatra.org.np/pageloader.php?file=2004/11/16/topstories/main8

Still, even though Nepal's shutdown ended in November 2004, the Kathmandu CDO refused to sign any files.

So Kathmandu homes opened branches in Patan and Bhaktapur, and laundered their kids past different CDOs.

King Gyanendra seized full power on February 1, 2005. His Royal Commission on Corruption Control reputedly began to investigate NCO/Bal Mandir. Not surprising considering Bal Mandir's alleged role as a cash cow for Nepali Congress politicians.

One prominent facilitator (with close ties to NCO/Bal Mandir) allegedly fled to India.

Meanwhile, foreign governments were becoming increasingly disturbed by the adoption trafficking in Nepal. Particularly after the first Sita Devi Gautam scandal (June 2005):

20 children missing from Nepal orphanage

6/21/2005

Kathmandu, June 21 (IANS) The mysterious disappearance of 20 inmates from an orphanage has exposed a thriving racket in Nepal where gangs connive with NGOs to steal children to sell them off, say activists.

Though the children disappeared Saturday, the matter came to light only on Tuesday when the Rising Nepal daily carried a report saying police had taken a man into custody over the incident.

According to initial police reports, the children aged between five and 14, including at least four girls, were staying in an orphans' home in Balaju, Kathmandu, run by an NGO, Pavitra Sewa, on foreign donation.

Many of them had been brought there by a woman called Hiramaya Rai, who did various chores at the home like cooking and washing.

Police at Balaju said the children had been brought for adoption by foreigners willing to pay a generous commission to the brokers who arranged the deals. However Rai apparently fell out with the woman running the home, whose name was given as Sita Gautam.

Police said she met a man, Raju Shrestha, who lured her, saying the two of them could open a similar NGO with the children she had brought and where she would get a better deal.

Accordingly, Rai allegedly bundled off the children into five vans Saturday night and disappeared. Till Tuesday, police had been unable to trace either Rai or the children.

This is not an isolated incident, said Sharad Sharma, president of Child Development Society, an NGO working for the rights, health and development of children.

Every day, one or two children go missing in Nepal. This case came to light because of the large number of children involved.

The hapless children are put up for adoption to foreigners if they are lucky or are sold as domestic labour, or in the worst scenario used to supply body parts like kidneys.

According to Sharma, there is an organised racket in stealing or obtaining infants and then handing them over for adoption.

They keep the baby hidden for some time, then publish an advertisement saying they have found a lost baby. If the parents do not contact them within the stipulated period, the baby would be put up for adoption.

If the parents are from poor families living outside the capital, chances are they don't see the ad. Even if they do, since babies' faces change rapidly, they might not be able to recognise the photograph published in the ad.

Sharma says while the babies are put up for adoption, the older children are made to work as domestic help in Nepal or India. According to unofficial figures, there are currently around 10,000 teens working as domestic help in New Delhi alone, Sharma told IANS.

Some of them are also exploited for body parts like kidneys, he said.

The Balaju incident comes close on the heels of another incident in Manohara, between Kathmandu and Bhaktapur districts, involving 37 children. They were brought by an NGO from different villages to be put up for adoption.

However, no one has shown interest so far and the children are virtually starving. There have also been earlier incidents of sexual abuse.

Social service organisations accuse the government of turning a blind eye to the irregularities.

We are investigating both the incidents, said Dipak Sapkota, executive director of the state-run Central Children Welfare Board.

Sapkota said Durga Shrestha, the minister for women, children and social development, and senior officials had started visiting such homes for on the spot inspection. The government was also drawing up guidelines for such homes, he said.

The Balaju children might not be missing, Sapkota told IANS. Rai could have taken them to another home. But if she or the home is found to be involved in any irregularity, they will certainly be punished.

http://www.indiablitz.com/10991/20-children-missing-from-Nepal-orphanage-%28LEAD%29.htm

That summer, foreign governments pressured Nepal to clean up its act, and Nepal promised adoption reform (a ban on abandonment paperwork was mooted).

NCO/Bal Mandir also promised to turn over a new leaf, and the King and NCO/Bal Mandir reconciled. Nepal Children's Organization threw a huge 78th birthday party for the Queen Mother:

http://www.nconepal.org/front/newsDet.php?nid=12

Nepal's 2005 adoption reforms never materialized.

And Sita Devi Gautam was soon back in business:

Where are they?

Disappearances from children's homes in Kathmandu give rise to fears of trafficking

Nepali Times issue #335 (09 FEB 2007 - 15 FEB 2007)

It didn't take long for teachers and administrators at RIMS School and Eyelense School in the Valley to realise something was deeply wrong. Last year, Pavitra Samaj Sewa Sangha, a children's home in Jorpati, enrolled 88 students in Eyelense and 35 in RIMS; however, less than a month later, the children started dropping out, often with new ones arriving in their place. To date, 88 children have gone missing from Pavitra Samaj.

"Pavitra Samaj enrolled the students with us in May. By June, most were nowhere to be seen. We didn't get an explanation, instead they started enrolling new children every week," says Balmukunda Karki, vice principal at RIMS, where only 11 of the original students are still attending classes. The home's chairman, Sitadevi Gautam, was defensive when the schools started asking questions, and made vague excuses about the children being taken home by relatives. "When we tried to probe deeper, we were told to do our job and not poke around in other people's business," says principal Anil Parajuli, adding that on admissions forms the details of each child's parents or guardians were left blank.

Rajesh Bista, Eyelense's principal, describes a similar experience. "Only 24 of the 88 students originally enrolled by Pavitra Samaj still attend school," he says. He never got concrete answers from the organisation about where the children went either. "When we asked the other students, they said 'uncles and aunties come to pick them up; if we ask about them, they say they will hang us'." Some children were enrolled as orphans but later said to have been sent back to their parents' care.

The two-year-old Pavitra Samaj Sewa Sangha runs on donations, and had 126 orphaned and destitute children listed in its care, mostly from Rolpa, Rukum, Dhading, Dang, and Makwanpur. Gautam admits children have disappeared, but places blames the organisation's financial manager Dhruba Adhikari, who hasn't been to work since 28 August last year. "He did everything; I just signed papers that said how many children had arrived and how long they would be staying. I have no idea what he used to do or how much money he used to make," says Gautam.

In addition to the home in Jorpati, Pavitra Samaj also has branches that collect donations and care for children. Eleven children are said to have been receiving aid at their premises in Balkhu, but none are still there. Narayan Funyal, chairman of the branch, says four of them returned to their parents in Dhading, and the remaining seven were taken away by a middleman over Dasain. He claims he was away when this happened and denies all knowledge of the children's whereabouts, adding, "The children were brought here from all over by middlemen. The parents don't know anything, just that we provide them with food, shelter, clothing, and education until SLC."

Pavitra Samaj has also been 'transferring' children to other organisations. In early 2007, five girls were sent to Malai Nabirsyau, a children's home. Gautam says this was done in the girls' "best interests", but admits that she received Rs 12,000 for the deal.

Gyanu Lama of Kathmandu's District Administration Office's Child Welfare Council says such monetary transactions are illegal. A total of 1,048 centres for orphans or destitute children operate in Nepal, with 366 centres and 615 children's welfare organisations in the capital alone. Lama says that 50 of these, including Malai Nabirsyau, are blacklisted. In mid-January, the government intervened, and took the remaining children from Pavitra Samaj into government care.

Executive director of central Child Welfare Council Dipak Raj Sapkota says "We've seen repeatedly that children are being smuggled both inside and outside the country for household employment, sexual abuse, circus labour, or organ transplants. If society keeps turning a blind eye to this, it will have unimaginable consequences in the years to come."

Himal Khabarpatrika

http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue/335/Nation/13206

Deepak Raj Sapkota (see above) is a former Executive Director of NCO/Bal Mandir:

EDUCATION

Master’s of Advanced Studies in Children’s Rights, University  of Fribourg (Switzerland) Law Faculty, 2008

NOTABLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Country Director: Karuna Foundation Nepal   www.karunafoundation.com

Member Secretary/ Executive Director: Central Child Welfare Board of Nepal, a national focal agency of Government of Nepal on Children's affairs for five years.

Executive Director: Nepal Children's Organization, Bal Mandir, One of the oldest and biggest child welfare organization of Nepal for 8 years.

Member Secretary:  Juvenile Justice Strengthening Committee (JJSC), A higher-level committee to strengthen and activate Juvenile Justice System in Nepal 2005-2007.

Member Secretary: 10 Year National Plan of Action for Children Formulation Task Force according the out comes document of UNGASS 2004-2005.

Member: To review the Terms and Condition of Inter Country Child Adoption of Nepal 2005.

Member: National Steering Committee and Technical Committee of the Time Bond Program on the elimination of Worst Forms of child labor 2004 -2006.

Member of First periodic CRC Report Preparing Committee of Nepal.

Defended Nepal's Periodic Report of CRC in CRC Committee in Geneva representing Government of Nepal as a team member.

Writing various articles on Child Rights, Social Development in various news papers/magazines.

Co- author; the role of Child protection Committee to protect the children affected by conflict.

http://www.yealliance.org/YEA_HOME_PAGE/Deepak_Raj_Sapkota.html

The Sacred Social Service Association  -- S.W.C. #14994

2005 Board:

President Sita Devi Gautam
Voice President Kamala Khanal
General Secretary Babhu Bajgai
Treasure Dhruba Raj Adhikari
Secretary W. Sing Gurung
Member Pana Mahat

2005 donors:

1. Duke Nepal factories (clothes) monthly
2. Sabina Koirala Politician (food)
3. Rotary club Medicine
4. Sai lendra
5. Nepali local doner's

NGO name in Nepali Times (2007) -- Pavitra Samaj Sewa Sangha

SWC -- database:

http://www.swc.org.np/

14994
Pawitra Samaj Sewa Sangh
Ka.ma.na.pa.13
Dhruw Adhikari
4363294
Community and Rural Development

CCWB:

Pabitra Sewa Samaj Sangh
Bensigaun
2084381   

The summer of 2005 brought some minor changes to Bal Mandir (such as their confusing online database):

http://www.nconepal.org/front/listAdoption.php

Still, their operations remained less than transparent. By the summer of 2006, the French Foreign Service had publicly blacklisted NCO/Bal Mandir:

http://pearadoptinfo-nepal.blogspot.com/2009/11/nepali-adoptions-french-warnings_23.html

Two years later, adoption reformers were dumbfounded when NCO/Bal Mandir was given a separate matching board in the 2008 adoption "reforms."

http://www.mowcsw.gov.np/doc_folder/8Terms,Con.of%20adpn%20of%20Nepali%20Child.pdf

Bal Mandir's special role in Nepali adoptions is particularly grotesque in light of the recent "Paper Orphans" controversy (the missing Humla children):

http://pearadoptinfo-nepal.blogspot.com/2010/05/draft-agenda-for-special-commission-on.html

Allegations regarding child trafficking at Nepal Children's Organization are nothing new in Nepal. See, for example, PEAR Nepal:

Prachanda Raj Pradhan -- head of the Child NGO Federation Nepal (CNFN)

http://pearadoptinfo-nepal.blogspot.com/2010/03/prachanda-raj-pradhan-head-of-child-ngo.html

For that matter, in May of 2005, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child was looking at the way Nepal implements the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In particular, the Committee was looking at the shortcomings in the Government of Nepal's delayed periodic report for 1997-2002 (CRC/C/65/Add.30 -- submitted December 2004).

The National Alliance of Child Rights Organizations (NACRO) submitted a CRC Alternative Report to the Committee. Their report was particularly scathing about NCO/Bal Mandir:

 p. 24

Adoption (Article 21)

"although there is nominal charge for the adoption process a person, especially foreign nationals, has to spend US $3000 to 10,000. Child adoption has become a legal crime in Nepali society considering it is legal trafficking of children. Children sometime are stolen from villages and put in NCO for adoption purposes. Usually, the NCO puts an advertisement in a national newspaper and asks for someone to claim the children within 35 days. Sometimes biological parents of the children turn up to claim their children who were mistakenly brought to the orphanage center. When inter-country adoption occurs it is not made public and no NGOs are informed. There is a complete lack of transparency in the adoption process."

From:  http://www.crin.org/docs/resources/treaties/crc.39/Nepal_Nacro_ngo_report.doc

CRC Alternative Report
Produced by: National Alliance of Child Rights Organizations (NACRO)
Kathmandu, Nepal.

NACRO  Board Members:

Concern for Children and Environment-Nepal (CONCERN)
Yuba Samaj Nepal (YSN)
Social Awareness for Education (SAFE)
PEACEWIN
Dalit Welfare Organization (DWO)
Child Protection Center (CPC)
Human Rights Protection Center (HRPC)

There have also been allegations that NCO/Bal Mandir's political connections made the NGO bulletproof.

Or as one angry individual wrote (after the Nepali Times published a 2007 adoption expose that did not even mention Bal Mandir):

"Children are being kept like gold mines - orphanages make money from sponsors and from adoptions. But I was surprised that the most notorious orphanage was not mentioned at all: Nepal Children's Organisation, Bal Mandir. I have heard horror stories: undisclosed rape cases, the bosses getting very rich, children living in bad care. Some are there for life, because it is lucrative to keep the whole place running by getting foreigners to sponsor children. Go there yourself, it feels like a medieval place where children are held hostage. Isn't the job of every child welfare organisation to either repatriate children to their own village or nearest of kin, or find loving parents for them if they really are abandoned? Certainly not to hoard children and keep the programs running in hope of funds. Was it because too many "big people" are involved that Bal Mandir was not even mentioned?"

http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue/2007/03/16/Letters/13332

For Nepal Children's Organization (NCO/Bal Mandir) is a very well-connected NGO.

Chairperson Reeta Singh Baidya (aka Rita Singh Vaidya) is the daughter of Nepali Congress leader Ganesh Man Singh:

"The boy was awarded with the Ganesh Man Singh Child Talent Award, instituted in the memory of 1990 People's Movement leader G M Singh.

Rita Singh Vaidya, chairman of the talent award and Singh's daughter, honoured Nepali with a certificate of felicitation and NRs 25,000 (INR15,723) cash prize."

http://www.hindu.com/holnus/001200904081931.htm

Ganesh Man Singh is the "Father of Democracy" in Nepal:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganesh_Man_Singh

Suresh Vaidya (Reeta's husband) also runs a controversial children's home:

No. 24 on the old NCO adoption home list.

Nepal Children’s Welfare Service
Tel 4362909
Mr. Suresh Vaidya

Also known as Child Service Centre
Nayabazar,
Kathmandu
4362909

Also known as Baal Sewa Kendra
Kathmandu Metropolitan-16,
Nayabazar,
Khusibu
4362909

Nepal Children’s Organization (NCO/Bal Mandir or Balmandir)

Contacts -- Rabin Shrestha & Reeta Singh Baidya

Central Office, Bal Mandir, Naxal
P O Box 6967, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 4 411202, 4 410 844, 4 419 219
Fax: + 977 1 4 414 485
E-mail: info@nconepal.org

Website:

http://www.nconepal.org/front/index.php

Nepal Children's Organization 2010 board:

Chairperson
Mrs. Reeta Singh Baidya

General Secretary
Mr. Krishna Shankar Shah

Treasurer
Mr. Manohar Gopal Shrestha

Member
Mr. Tulsi Narayan Shrestha
 

Member
Mrs. Rama Poudel
 
Member
Mr. Shiva Raj Joshi
 
Member
Mr. Ram Hari Dhungel

Member
Mr. Bir Singh Karki
 
Member
Mr. Surendra Hamal
 
Member
Mr. Kamal Deep Shrestha
 

Member
Mr. Deepak Das Shrestha

Member
Mr. Bishnu Bahadur Shahi
 
Member
Mr. Narayan Shrestha
 

Member
Mr. Nrip Bahadur Bista
 
Member
Mr. Kedar Dahal

Member
Subash Kumar Pokhrel
 
Member
Suman Shakya
 
Member
Mr. Ashok Kumar Jaisawal
 

Member
Mrs Mithu Malla

http://www.nconepal.org/front/centralCom.php

Meanwhile, Rajeswor Niraula & Ram Krishna Subedi (the two staffers mentioned as alleged traffickers in Taja Khabar) are still senior NCO/Bal Mandir officials:

Rajeswor Niraula
Director
rajesworn@hotmail.com

Bal Krishna Dangol
Deputy Director
balkrishna@nconepal.org

Ramesh Bhomi
Deputy Director
ramesh@nconepal.org

Yubaraj Katuwal
Program Coordinator
yubaraj@nconepal.org

Ram Krishna Subedi
Chief, Home Magagement Section
ramkrishna@nconepal.org

Rabin Shrestha
Acting Chief, Adoption Section
rabin@nconepal.org

Asha Shrestha
Chief, Planning & Sponsorship
shrestha_aasha@yahoo.com

Pramila Shrestha
Acting Chief, Child Right & Promotion
pramilashr@hotmail.com

Puni Raj Maharjan
Chief, Administration Section
puniraj007@yahoo.com

Suraj Khanal
Chief, Info & Public Relation

Surya Bahadur Basnet
Computer Operator
suryab05@hotmail.com

Laxmi Ale Neupane
Asst. First (Account)
sponsorship@nconepal.org

http://www.nconepal.org/front/staffmember.php?name=Central%20Office,%20Naxal

Nepal Children's Organization is a tough nut for adoption reformers. They have long suspected that NCO's political connections made Bal Mandir bulletproof.

With the release of the TDH/UNICEF documentary Paper Orphans (which focuses on Bal Mandir), this may no longer be the case.


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Defending Arguments

Philip Holmes, Country Director of Esther Benjamins Trust and adoptive father to two Nepali children, offers readers a typical response made by those "involved" with the adoption industry.  In an opinion piece written for MYREPUBLICA.com, he suggests the problem related to paper orphans is over-rated, as 90% of the children brought to his refuge are step-children; "Step children are often unwanted and unloved within new family units and if they remain with step parents they may well be neglected and abused."

According to his account, these unwanted step-children children face life on the streets, with no real future opportunities outside crime and prostitution.  [Compare this fate to far too many unwanted step-children foster kids living on the streets in the USA and Canada.  This social problem exists everywhere, you just have to know where to look.]

My personal favorite "reminder" to bleeding-heart readers is the look-at-the- luck-of-the-adopted song so many adoption advocates love to sing and play.  Yes, let's remind those who don't travel past their own local strip-mall just how lucky each, any, and every so-called orphan child is to leave a country like Nepal (or S.Korea, or China, or Russia, or Ethiopia....)

 Finally a word on domestic adoption. Superficially, it might seem to be a preferable option to keep children in their own country through making more use of domestic adoption as a family-based care option. However, one has to ask if this is really in the best interests of the child and his or her development. Nepal currently is number 144 on the UNDP’s Human Development Index, comparing very unfavorably with inter-country adoption destination countries the USA (number 13) Spain (number 15) and Italy (number 18). But what about the all important issue of love? Many Nepalis will tell you that a child that is adopted into a family has a very high chance of being treated as a domestic servant who is expected to work in return for food and board (and be glad of it) rather than being treated as a true son or daughter. This is in marked contrast with what is available overseas.  [From:  Don't suspend inter-country adoption, Feb 24, 2010 ] 

Try telling that to a foreign adopted child who a) is chosen to be the child-lover to his/her new pedophile parent b) forced to sleep in a cage b) treated like a dog, because of language/discipline problems.  The myth that ALL children fare better through foreign adoption is just that... a wishful thinking myth.

Common sense dictates, if step-parenting and child servitude are known major problems in Nepal, those problems need to be addressed.   They need to be addressed without the easy-out inter-country adoption provides.  [Think about it...  while inter-country adoption helps provide jobs and salaries for a small number of people, it also helps perpetuate poor practices by removing the incentive needed to provide better care for locals.]  Outsourcing children to other countries might seem like a very smart solution, but it does little in terms of addressing serious on-going social problems taking place in Nepal.

This leads me to my final thought:  when so many orphanage directors/government officials financially benefit from each foreign adoption made, it's hard to take any arguments (supporting international adoption) all that seriously.

Unimpressive arguments...

If the best interests of a child are served by placement in the most developed, affluent home possible, why not just move all poor children into rich families?  I notice that my country - Australia - is number 2 on the UNDP Human Development Index, whereas the US is number 13.  I wonder what Mr Holmes would think of giving us the adoptable children of America? They'd obviously be better off being adopted by Aussies.

So far as the apparent mistreatment of children adopted within Nepal - how about we let the authorities within Nepal make the decisions about whether a local adoptive family will be able to meet a child's needs.  It seems particularly arrogant to assume that an overseas family will necessarily do a better job of loving a child than a family from that child's community.

My children shouldn't have joined our family if they could be placed in a loving local home. I believe overseas adoption is far better than long-term institutionalisation of children, but it is traumatic for children to have to move from all that is known and familiar. Putting a child through that trauma, as well as the longer-term challenges of growing up as a minority within your adoptive family and country, cannot be supported if a suitable local family had been available for that child.

Placement with an overseas family in preference to a local family would utterly disregard the principle of subsidiarity, recognised in both the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption. These two conventions allow for the movement of children from one country to another for adoption, but only when the child cannot be restored to their family, or placed in another family within their birth community or country.  A suitable local family or, better still, an extended family member, should always trump an overseas adoptive family.

Julia

institutional care

I do agree with nearly all you say, though I think pitting adoption against long term institutional care doesn't help much. I don't know the number of children in institutional care world wide, but it is likely to dwarf the number of inter-country adoptions. In fact, the number of children in institutional care in Western Europe alone is probably larger than the number of inter-country adoptions world wide.

I am not necessarily a proponent of institutional care, but at the same time the situation is not necessarily as bad as the worst examples. When adoption is pitted against institutional care, Eastern European orphanages are usually taken as an example, or the deliberately abysmal quality of Mother Teresa's care facilities.

Of course there are many problems with institutional care, but at the same time the situation is not necessarily as dire as is led to believe. In December last year, this article appeared which sheds quite a different light on institutional care.

Inter-country adoption is not the answer to institutional care and in some cases even causes institutionalization of children to fill the pipeline. Building more and more orphanages, as some religious groups seem to love doing, is not an answer to institutional care either. Still, providing better and more appropriate care for children in institutional setting can make a huge difference in the lives of many children. After all most children in institutional care are not in the infant stage where they are easily adoptable.

Orphanage or ICA

I do believe that intercountry adoption is preferable to long-term institutional care of children, however I don't consider all "orphanage care" to be synonymous with "institutional care", so the article didn't surprise me. They wrote that "On average, these facilities had 25 to 30 children and were largely staffed by people who stayed on the premises and received little outside pay—people who treated their caregiver roles as more than a workaday job." To me, that is the key ... these children were in small groups being cared for by people who had an emotional relationship to each child.

That isn't the way my older sons lived in their Indian orphanage, where over 300 children lived. After they came into our family as older children aged around 5 and 10 years, both of my sons experienced rapid, catch-up growth (more than double the usual growth velocity) for the first two to three years - a clear sign of previous deprivation. Both boys rapidly grew, both physically and emotionally.  My younger son, who had been mute for over two years while living in their orphanage, started speaking again within three weeks of joining our family. My older son told us many things about living in his orphanage; stories we hoped were exaggerations but which we later verified (eating discarded food from nearby homes, children suiciding by hanging themselves or jumping down the well, babies tied to cots). My sons thrived after intercountry adoption but they would also have thrived if they had been removed from that institution and placed in a caring, smaller children's home where they could have their individual needs met. 

My sons' orphanage was nothing like an SOS Children's Village, where children are cared for in small, family-like groups. I wouldn't consider an SOS village to be "insititutional care" at all, as it doesn't lead to institutionalisation of the children. My family supports a children's home in south India that is a loving, caring environment that caters for all aspects of a child's development.

I guess it is just as difficult to compare orphanage with orphanage as it is to compare adoptive home with adoptive home.  If you've seen a huge institution full of highly needy children, you will be against orphanage care.  If you grew up in an abusive adoptive family that ignored your needs as an adoptee, then you will not be pro-adoption.

Intercountry adoption is not the answer to the world's problem of children without family care and will never address the needs of the majority of homeless children, but it does have the capacity to meet the needs of individual children in particular circumstances.  I do consider placement of a child in a well-prepared adoptive family to be better than long-term institutionalisation, but I would also consider placement in a decent-quality, caring children's home to be better than placement in an inadequate intercountry adoptive family.  I see ICA as one of a number of options that might meet the needs of children who cannot be restored to their birth family or placed in a loving family within their community or country. 

The witch, or the devil?

Orphanage or ICA?

False dilemma. How about none of the above?

What then?

I was discussing the merits and disadvantages of orphanages and intercountry adoption in regards to "children who cannot be restored to their birth family or placed in a loving family within their community or country."  If you are advocating another path for such children, what is it?

Nothing in my post advocated anything

It was a simple, hypothetical question: which is preferable, the witch or the devil?

Which is preferable, the rock or the hard place?

Pound Pup Legacy