Nepal nightmare

September 24, 2010/ Chicago Tribune

Candice Warltier just wants to bring her 13-month-old daughter, Antara, home to Chicago. The U.S. won't let her.

They are stranded in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, because the State Department and other U.S. agencies placed a ban on adoptions from that country as Warltier was en route to become Antara's mother.

According to U.S. officials, there are serious concerns about whether some children who have been presented for adoption in Nepal are victims of kidnapping and child trafficking. Investigations have reportedly yielded cases of false birth certificates, cases in which it couldn't be verified that biological parents have willingly given up the children.

Nepal suspended its adoption program in 2007 amid concerns about child trafficking. The nation introduced new regulations in 2008 and resumed adoptions, but concerns have persisted. Some other nations have also stopped recognizing adoptions from Nepal.

State Department officials say the U.S. has since February urged prospective parents to reconsider adoptions from Nepal, because of trafficking concerns. But the U.S. imposed no ban at the time, and Warltier and other prospective parents moved forward.

Now she is caught in a nightmare. Nepal recognizes her adoption of Antara, who was abandoned at a local police station and taken to an orphanage when she was just days old. But the U.S. won't recognize the adoption and Warltier can't return to the U.S. with her daughter. She has stayed in Nepal for seven weeks now, living with her child in an apartment, fighting for their right to be a family.

Five other U.S. families are in the same limbo over Nepal adoptions. Two of them are from Illinois.

There are sound reasons to be concerned about Nepal's handling of adopted children. But the situation for these families needs to be resolved quickly by the State Department. The uncertainty is cruel.

Warltier, who is 42 and single, worked with a reputable Minneapolis agency to find a child through an international adoption. She received a photo and medical records for Antara in June. As soon as Warltier was approved to travel to Nepal, she and her mother took off, getting there on Aug 7.

The U.S. embassy informed Warltier of the sudden suspension while she was en route to meet her daughter.

This is starting to get some attention. Last week, 18 U.S. senators and six members of the House sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling on the department to speed approval of cases that were so close to final adoption. "These families are enduring extreme emotional and financial burdens while their children's cases are investigated further," the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers make a sound point: Leaving children in limbo can mean consigning them to orphanages or other places where they are less likely to thrive than if they were in a home with parents. More broadly, Nepal is in a desperate situation. Contaminated water and poor sanitation have led to outbreaks of diarrhea and cholera in at least one quarter of Nepal. The nation has no constitution and no elected leader. Nearly half of Nepal's children under age 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition.

Warltier told us she supports the intent of U.S. officials. But she also trusts the orphanage where Antara has lived since she was just days old. She has witnessed Antara's first steps. Her child calls her "Mama."

She just wants to bring her home. The State Department should make that happen.

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"Dear public elected Career Politician..."

  • State Department officials say the U.S. has since February urged prospective parents to reconsider adoptions from Nepal, because of trafficking concerns.   But the U.S. imposed no ban at the time, and Warltier and other prospective parents moved forward.  AP's on a mission to obtain a child will rely on their carefully chosen, well-paid, reputable adoption agencies to deal with such pesky concerns.   If there is no ban, there is no trouble.... and every desperate PAP knows, once a child is formally adopted, that child can't be forced to return to his/her original country, parents, or other living family members.  The AP wins, regardless of trafficking concerns... and adoption agencies with the reputation of always delivering within a timely fashion, know how important customer satisfaction is. 
  • Nepal recognizes her adoption of Antara, who was abandoned at a local police station and taken to an orphanage when she was just days old.  It's amazing to me how many 'abandoned' (not stolen?) infants are brought to police stations and then sent to orphanages.  Why, it must be one of the oldest, most popular, most widely accepted claims going, especially in politically unstable regions.  Thank you Baby Jesus for all the nice, non-corrupt police officers in the world.  I'm certain all those found abandoned/lost babies were placed in orphanages close to their original homes, so family members can claim them.  <dripping sarcasm>
  • The U.S. embassy informed Warltier of the sudden suspension while she was en route to meet her daughter.  This is starting to get some attention. Last week, 18 U.S. senators and six members of the House sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling on the department to speed approval of cases that were so close to final adoption. "These families are enduring extreme emotional and financial burdens while their children's cases are investigated further," the lawmakers wrote.  But, according to bullet #1, Warltier and others WERE warned... they simply chose to ignore those warnings, and continued to move forward with their plans to adopt from question raising Nepal.  Grrreat... that's exactly what people living in a desperate unstable region need... arrogant Americans, with money and a desire for infants / very young children, deciding for themselves concerned warnings apply only to other people.   What sort of PAP will deliberately ignore and dismiss concerns regarding the way in which infants are obtained by orphanages, so foreign adoption demands can be met?

This leads to me the sort of letters 'desperate' PAP's will write to career politicians.   While I know some members in certain circles have little more to do than make the call and tap-into their own private connections for some instant presto-chango, some average joes still have to approach influential politicians the old fashioned way --  with a formal letter of introduction and intent.  I'm not good with formal letter writing, so when writing a letter requesting help and support, what sort of personal profile typically wins lawmaker favor?  Is it still the registered voter who happens to be white, married, affiliated with a  preferred religious organization, and gainfully employed with excellent credit and private insurance?  Or is the single (not married) but financially secure professional interested in foreign adoption becoming the new favorite?  Does being a minority hurt or help the adoption plea?  Does the phrase "will contribute" need to be used? I'm thinking these letters have to include all the right phrases, tag words, and descriptions just to get any level of political attention and assistance.  For instance, just as there are those politicians who will get warm and gooey when reading a letter written by a fundamentalist homeschooling parent wishing to adopt from Nepal, there are those who would feel more heart warmed compassion for the poor married queers writing about the many road blocks they experience, keeping them away from an adoptable child with AIDS.  I may not know a lot about American politics, but I do know championing 'the right cause' brings votes, and with the right number of votes, the smart politician can reap the rewards of job security.  

These 18 US Senators and six members of the house sending letters to HRC.... who are they and what ilk of society does each represent?  Will November's vote affect any of these lawmakers assisting PAP's... PAP's who chose to ignore warnings, and instead, decided to go forward with adoptions from a newly flagged country?

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