Advocates call on State Dept to lift longstanding adoption ban

In 2010, the U.S. Department of State announced that it was following the lead of other Western nations in suspending all adoptions from Nepal, citing systemic problems that it believed cast doubt on the reliability of that country’s adoption system.

Specifically, State Department officials indicated that otherwise unreliable documentation made it difficult to determine whether Nepali children had indeed been abandoned and otherwise satisfied the criteria set forth under U.S. law for being considered orphans.

Once the suspension was announced, the State Department agreed to continue processing the 62 pending adoptions of Nepali children by American families. However, the agency dictated that 55 of these cases had to be reinvestigated — at the expense of the prospective families — due to lingering concerns about the legality of the adoptions.

A recently released report from the adoption advocacy group Both Ends Burning indicates that while these 55 adoptions were eventually allowed to proceed, each family incurred an average of $25,000 in additional expenses, while the children being adopted were forced to spend an additional six months in various Nepali institutions.

The Both Ends Burning report is part of a campaign the group launched last week calling on both the State Department and Congress to lift the fear-year moratorium on adoptions from Nepal.

In the report and an open letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, the group indicates that the agency’s stance on adoption fraud in Nepal was predicated upon “misinformation,” and that officials have failed to account for recent efforts by Nepali officials to introduce more stringent regulations. For instance, international adoptions can now only take place from 18 orphanages approved by the government.

“The fact that no fraud was found in any of the adoption cases and yet Nepal remains closed today is simply wrong,” said Both Ends Burning director of advocacy. “The suspension should be lifted, the Department of State should be held to account for their actions, and reforms need to be pursued by Congress to make sure this does not happen again.”

While it remains unclear whether the State Department or Congress will be responsive to the campaign, at least one member of Congress has taken note.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), who called the findings of the report “deeply troubling,” said the issue only served to underscore just how important it was to introduce changes into the structure of the State Department.

Specifically, she pointed to her proposed “Children in Families First Act,” which calls for a new bureau to be formed within the State Department dedicated solely to the issue of helping children across the world find homes.

Stay tuned for updates on this important and developing story.

Remember to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can explain your rights and outline your options if you would like to learn more about the adoption process here in Texas.

Source: ABC News, “Groups seek resumption of US adoptions from Nepal,” David Crary, June 4, 2014