In Nepal, there are an estimated 650,000 children who have lost either one or both parents (according to the United Nations Children’s Agency).
Many childless couples therefore look to adopt Nepalese children in want of a family. However, a recent BBC report has highlighted the continuing issue of cases where children with parents still living are given up for adoption. Western couples are paying thousands of dollars in fees and ‘donations’ to orphanages and this money is encouraging fraudulent practices, where children who are not in fact orphans are given to foreign families.
The problem has been known about for some time and many Western governments have suspended adoption from Nepal. One diplomat told the BBC that investigations were difficult to conduct, but when cases were looked into, adoption documents were sometimes found to be falsified or inaccurate. Because of the potentially lucrative nature of Nepalese adoptions, there are believed to be around 20 agents working out of the capital Kathmandu, who are sent out into rural regions of Nepal to find suitable children. The mostly female agents approach poor families, particularly in the remote Himalayan districts of the country. They persuade struggling families that their children will be better looked after in the capital and that their children will also receive a proper education.
Foreign couples are asked to pay 5,000 dollars to Nepalese orphanages in order to arrange the adoption of a child. An additional 3,000 dollars must be given to government officials for dealing with the paperwork. In some cases, other fees are also paid. Prospective parents are shown pictures of youngsters in care, but are given little further information about the children they plan to adopt. Official documents record that the children are either without parents or have been abandoned by their families.
Nepal has signed up to the Hague Adoption Convention, which lays out standards for international adoption procedures. However, so far, these standards have not been put in place. Reform has been slow in coming and reports in the local press have accused officials of corruption. Though changes have yet to go through, some governments are feeling the pressure to reopen adoptions to Nepal.
One mother tells the BBC her story to highlight the current dangers involved in child adoption from Nepal. Sarita Bhujel was persuaded to send her seven year-old daughter to a children’s home in the capital when she was struggling financially. Told she could visit her daughter at any time, the mother found that after a while the home came up with excuses as to why she couldn’t see her child. Eventually, she discovered her daughter had been adopted by an Italian couple. Ms Bhujel says she has cried for many years over the loss of her beloved daughter.
By Laurinda Luffman
Source: SOS CHildren's Village | 5 octobre 2011
Profit, not care: The ugly side of overseas adoptions
Lax regulation and an endless demand by childless couples in the West has created an often exploitative market in babies born in the developing world.
In rural Nepal, where the going rate for a healthy orphan is $5,000 (£3,000), some 600 children are missing. They were taken by agents who came to the villages promising that they would educate the children and give them a better life in the capital, sometimes for a steep fee. The children never returned.
Between 2001 and 2007, hundreds of Nepali children with living parents were falsely listed as orphans and adopted by high-paying Westerners thousands of miles away. One widow, according to the child protection charity Terre des Hommes, was unable to feed her seven children and sent them to an urban "child centre", where three were quickly adopted without her consent by rich Westerners. Another, Sunita, was told by sneering authorities that she would never see her child again. She doused herself in kerosene and struck a match.
Tens of thousands of babies, toddlers and young children are now adopted across international borders every year, according to Unicef. There has been a decline since 2004, but in 2009, the last year for which reliable figures are available, the top five adopting countries alone took in 24,839 children from overseas. Half of these, some 12,753, went to the US, with Italy taking 3,964, Spain and France around 3,000 each, and Canada 2,122. Britain, where very strict rules apply, has very few overseas adoptions.
The Nepali adoption industry is part of a broader child-trafficking trend which saw some "orphans" from the rural provinces of Humla and Jumla sold to circuses. Western prospective parents, however, are the preferred revenue stream. Adoption alone brought $2m per year into the country before 2007, when the programme was suspended pending an international inquiry which uncovered many cases of child abduction and improper financial gain.
Nepal is far from the only country where international conventions on the rights of children have been breached as unscrupulous middlemen trade toddlers like livestock to desperate Western couples. The process is simple: parents in Europe and America contact an adoption agency in the country of their choice, either privately or via a home agency. Money changes hands, and their papers and the papers of the child are checked, the latter being easy to falsify. More money changes hands, and the child goes home with new parents.
Many of these adoptions are legitimate, beneficial, and bring nothing but joy to the new parents and hope to the child. But there is another side. The possibilities for corruption and back-hand profit are immense, because the emotional stakes are so high. "When people want something so very much, like a baby, the amount of money they are prepared to throw at it can be limitless," said Andy Elvin of Children and Families Across Borders. "In some countries, those amounts of money on offer mean that people do things they wouldn't otherwise do, and that's the problem."
According to Terre des Hommes, there is now, in many cases, "an industry around adoption in which profit, rather than the best interests of the child, takes centre stage". The business is a seller's market, because there are far fewer orphans in need of adoption than Western prospective parents wishing to adopt. Although many children adopted in this way do enjoy loving, stable homes with their new families, the number of truly "adoptable children" in overseas orphanages is smaller than the number of prospective parents.
Even in the aftermath of wars and natural disasters, those without a single relative to provide proper care is insufficient to meet the current demand for exotic orphans. After the tsunami in Japan, many Westerners inquired as to when and how they would be able to adopt a tsunami orphan, only to be told that any child left parentless by the flood waters would be rehoused with extended family.
There is sometimes a distinct missionary element to this charity. Christian lobby groups exhort congregations to demonstrate their faith by adopting foreign orphans from countries that know neither Jesus nor Walmart. Networks exist to help individual ministries organise funds to pay the orphanages and middlemen who supply the babies. Last year, 10 Southern Baptists "obeyed God's calling" by smuggling 33 Haitian children – most solicited from living parents – across the Dominican border to await adoption by American believers. All 10 missionaries were jailed, but Christian adoption lobbies in the United States are putting increasing political pressure on organisations such as Unicef to ratify their agenda rather than raising ethical issues about the human rights of the children involved.
There are more mundane reasons why Western couples might wish to adopt overseas rather than be matched with one of the tens of thousands of children in need of adoption at home (many of whom do not match, in age or background, the ideal child some would-be parents want). One Ukrainian tourist website boasts that "Ukraine has very few restrictions" and adding that unlike many countries, which seek to eliminate unfairness with rigorous matching systems, "prospective parents have the chance to choose the child they wish to adopt". "Ukrainian children are typically family-oriented, caring, make attachments easily," enthuses the site, as if it were selling a new breed of house pet. "They look to their new parents with adoration."
Mr Elvin, of Children and Families Across Borders, said: "There is an almost inexhaustible demand for very young children to adopt. People looking to adopt are generally looking to adopt children under the age of three, and preferably under the age of one. That's your essential problem. In America, which is the biggest importer, if you like, there are 23,000 children in the foster system waiting for adoption, but most of them will be aged five to 16. There's a very rich, powerful and well-resourced inter-country adoption lobby in the United States."
The leading supplier of babies for adoption is China, which sent 5,078 children abroad in 2009. Russia sent 4, 039, and 4,564 came from Ethiopia, one of a range of countries which, through lax regulation, had a vogue as a ready source of babies. It used to be Vietnam, then Guatemala (at one point an estimated one in every 100 babies born there was sent for adoption to the US). Ethiopia, which, until recently, was sending 50 children a day out of the country, announced a clampdown in March. No one yet knows where the agencies and desperate parents will turn next.
No matter how faithful, well-meaning or loving the prospective parents, there can be no doubt that parts of the international adoption industry can play fast and loose with the human rights of children. Those at risk are not only those who are traded, but those who remain. In some countries, international adoption is beginning to replace less profitable systems of child support.
The routine export of unwanted Korean babies to America, a 60-year tradition dating back to the Korean War, has directly prevented what a 1998 study called "alternatives for parentless or abandoned children". Most Korean "orphans" are, in fact, the children of unmarried or impoverished mothers. And while a system exists whereby those babies can simply be sent abroad, there is no reason for Korean culture to accommodate them. In other words, not only is there no global "orphan crisis", but the international adoption trade actively hinders the establishment of proper welfare provision in "sending" countries.
An international treaty designed to prevent babies from being directly traded has been only intermittently effective and, in some cases, seems to have given this well-intentioned traffic in human beings a stamp of authority. The 1993 Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption requires its 81 signatory countries to provide regulatory bodies to oversee adoption but, despite these stipulations, abuses and child trafficking persist.
According to Unicef, "systemic weaknesses" in the Hague system facilitate "the sale and abduction of children, coercion or manipulation of birth parents, falsification of documents and bribery". A key weakness is the convention's failure to prevent signatory countries from adopting from non-signatory countries, so many adoptees to the US and Europe come from states with no obligation to oversee the process.
Even where trade is done with convention signatories, "the abuse, sale of or traffic in children" is only prevented indirectly. Although non-signatories are more poorly monitored, some of the worst reports come from countries, such as China, which have signed the convention. Nor does the treaty prevent financial gain in the transfer of children – only "improper" financial gain.
Organisations such as Unicef, the Red Cross, Terre des Hommes and Save the Children agree that adopting countries must take more responsibility to ensure that inter-country adoptions take place "with the best interests of the child as the primary consideration". The painful truth is that, as Terre des Hommes puts it, no adult or couple has "the right to a child", not even if they believe that by exercising that right they may be saving a foreign baby from poverty in "heathen" lands.
Across the world, there are thousands of parentless children needing adoption, and there is nothing remotely wrong with placing children with caring families. Unfortunately, the international adoption trade has become a murky trench of money-making and malpractice. Extant systems of oversight are rickety, but there is much that can and should be done to tighten up the provisions of The Hague convention to ensure that adoption does not become a byword for benevolent human trafficking.
Source : The Independent | 5 juin 2011
Le commerce des adoptions internationales représente une industrie de plusieurs millions de dollars, de plus en plus de familles occidentales adoptant des bébés venant des pays en développement. Le Népal ne semble pas vouloir échapper au phénomène.
En 2007, les adoptions au Népal ont été confrontées à une grande pression et de sévères critiques de la part de médias nationaux et internationaux sur des allégations de corruption et d’enfants vendus. Le rapport “Adopter les droits d’un enfant”, signé par l’UNICEF et Terre des hommes, dévoilait au même moment des cas d’enfants et de bébés proposés à l’adoption sans le consentement de leurs parents. Comme conséquence, nombre de pays européens prohibaient alors les adoptions au Népal (Royaume-Uni, Danemark, France, Norvège, Espagne, Canada, Italie, Suisse et Allemagne).
En 2008, le Népal rouvrait pourtant les adoptions internationales et signait en 2009 la Convention de La Haye sur la Protection des enfants et la Coopération en matière d’adoption internationale. En décembre 2010, de nouvelles politiques étaient enfin introduites pour faciliter le processus des adoptions internationales. “Une équipe part en Italie en mars pour discuter des adoptions entre pays, tous les pays européens sont attendus à ce séminaire et seront certainement tous d’accord pour adopter des enfants du Népal”, déclaire Sher Jung Karki, sous-secrétaire du Ministère de la femme, des enfants et du bien-être social.
L’optimisme et la rapidité à oublier ce qu’il s’est passé sont surprenants. Si seulement une telle promptitude et un tel engagement étaient dévoués à trouver des solutions plus réelles que celles qui ont presque conduit le Népal à bloquer les adoptions… Ce qui est étrange, c’est qu’alors que le gouvernement voit les choses en grand pour encourager les adoptions internationales, peu a été fait pour faciliter les adoptions au niveau national, à travers le Népal.
“Le gouvernement se concentre plus sur les adoptions internationales. Il introduit de nouvelles lois et régulations et néglige complètement les adoptions nationales. Plusieurs éléments justifient de vouloir favoriser les adoptions internationales mais le ‘capital’ est le facteur principal, car des pays étrangers sont prêts à payer très cher pour adopter des enfants népalais. Même avec les nouvelles politiques, il y a toujours des failles pour les irrégularités”, dénonce une source dans le même Ministère.
Chose intéressante, il n’y a aucune donnée ou information sur les adoptions nationales au Ministère. “Nous félicitons les améliorations annoncées par le gouvernement mais elles ne portent que sur l’adoption internationale. Des solutions locales doivent être développées en priorité pour pouvoir répondre aux engagements internationaux du pays”, déclare Joseph Aguettant, délégué de Terre des hommes au Népal, précisant que ces solutions locales incluent le respect des liens de parenté, les familles d’accueil et les adoptions nationales. Récemment, Terre des hommes a été impliquée dans la promotion des adoptions nationales, en collaboration avec le Conseil du bien-être social, plusieurs administrations locales et différentes ONG. En plus de changer les mentalités, la tâche implique de décrypter les lois existantes, manquant de précision et devant être rapidement simplifiées.
Lorsqu’un pays néglige l’adoption nationale et se concentre seulement sur les adoptions internationales, les questions se soulèvent. Que peut être un “Nouveau Népal” où nos orphelins n’ont pas ni de place ni de droits alors qu’il s’agit de leur propre pays? Pour un pays sortant d’une guerre civile et sur la voie de la réconciliation, notre société n’est-elle pas ouverte à aider elle-même les orphelins? Est-ce que les orphelins du Népal ne valent-ils pas plus que ce qu’ils rapportent grâce aux échanges internationaux? Qu’en est-il exactement de l’engagement du gouvernement et des dispositions en faveur des orphelins dans ce pays?
Pour l’instant, ces engagements ne sont pas visibles. Les orphelins sont logés dans des foyers spéciaux jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient exportés vers des familles occidentales. Ces foyers ne reçoivent aucun soutien financier et sont très peu surveillés par le gouvernement. Plus de 198 de ces foyers sont loin de respecter les standards minimaux. “Les foyers qui ne répondent pas aux standards minimaux établis par le gouvernement devraient être fermés pour assurer les droits et l’intérêt supérieur de l’enfant”, dénonce Gauri Pradhan, membre de la Commission nationale des droits de l’homme au Népal.
Source : Terre des hommes | Darcissac, Marion | 02.02.2011
By Prakriti Pathak
The Himalayan Times | 30.01.2011
"Il y a des demandes de parents adoptants pour recueillir des enfants handicapés", a indiqué à l'AFP Sherjung Karki, sous-secrétaire du ministère de l'Enfance. "Nous avons donc modifié la législation pour autoriser l'adoption internationale d'enfants ayant un handicap mental ou Le royaume himalayen est l'un des pays les plus pauvres du monde. De nombreux pays estiment toutefois que les contrôles restent défaillants et les Etats-Unis comme le Canada ont préféré suspendre les adoptions d'enfants du Népal début 2010.L'Unicef estimait il y a deux ans qu'environ 60% des enfants proposés pour l'adoption au Népal n'étaient pas véritablement orphelins. Source : Aujourd'hui l'Inde.
Le Népal a modifié sa législation pour permettre à des enfants handicapés d'être adoptés par des parents étrangers, a indiqué un responsable gouvernemental mardi, deux ans après le scandale des faux orphelins.
En 2008, il a instauré de nouvelles règles dans ce domaine après des rapports évoquant de nombreuses infractions commises par des intermédiaires sans scrupules, tirant profit d'enfants et faisant payer des milliers de dollars aux parents adoptants.
"Il y a des demandes de parents adoptants pour recueillir des enfants handicapés", a indiqué à l'AFP Sherjung Karki, sous-secrétaire du ministère de l'Enfance. "Nous avons donc modifié la législation pour autoriser l'adoption internationale d'enfants ayant un handicap mental ou. Nous espérons que ces enfants seront adoptés et pourront ainsi accéder aux soins les meilleurs en Occident", a-t-il dit.
Le royaume himalayen est l'un des pays les plus pauvres du monde.
De nombreux pays estiment toutefois que les contrôles restent défaillants et les Etats-Unis comme le Canada ont préféré suspendre les adoptions d'enfants du Népal début 2010.L'Unicef estimait il y a deux ans qu'environ 60% des enfants proposés pour l'adoption au Népal n'étaient pas véritablement orphelins.
Source : Aujourd'hui l'Inde.
US suspends adoption of abandoned children in Nepal over concerns of fraudulent paperwork
NEW YORK — The U.S. government on Friday suspended the adoption of abandoned children from Nepal because of concerns about unreliable and fabricated documents.
The State Department said the suspension would take effect immediately, although it will continue to consider adoption applications already in the pipeline on a case-by-case basis. About 80 such cases are pending.
More than 60 Nepalese children were adopted by Americans in 2006. The number dropped to six last year as U.S. officials intensified warnings about possible problems.
The State Department acted after finding numerous cases where Nepalese children's birth certificates were falsified and orphanage officials refused to assist efforts to confirm information.
Because of the unreliable documents and "the general situation of noncooperation with and even active hindrance of investigations," U.S. authorities can no longer accurately determine whether a child qualifies as an orphan, the State Department said.
It cited one case where the birth parents were actively searching for a child who had been matched with an American family for adoption.
Regarding the pending cases, the State Department said they would be approved only if supported by reliable evidence.
"Every effort will be made to process their cases as expeditiously as possible with the best interests of children in mind," it said.
U.S. officials said the duration of the suspension would depend on the pace with which Nepal's government implements more rigorous oversight of adoptions. One step in this direction would be to ratify the Hague Convention, with sets standards for international adoptions.
According to the State Department, numerous other countries — including Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy and Britain — have recently suspended adoptions from Nepal based on similar concerns.
Chuck Johnson, head of the private National Council for Adoption, expressed dismay at the suspension, saying it would consign many Nepalese orphans to longer stays in institutions.
"It's a sad day for us children's advocates," he said. "When you suspend adoptions due to concerns of abuse, you're also preventing the adoption of legal and legitimate orphans. ... There will be suffering, profound psychological and physical effects."
Source: Washington Examiner.
Liste des pays qui ont suspendus les adoptions avec le Népal: Allemagne, Belgique, Canada, Danemark, Espagne, France, Grande-Bretagne, Israël,Ityalie, Norvège, Suède, Suisse. En gros, les américains étaient les seuls à continuer, comme en Haïti.
Les Etats-Unis est le seul pays à continuer d'y envoyer des dossiers pour de nouvelles adoptions, alors qu'il y a eu des abus épouvantables.
Spain, Italy suspend adoption from Nepal
KATHMANDU, July 14: Spain and Italy have suspended inter-country adoption from Nepal, joining other countries which have taken similar steps accusing Nepal´s adoption system of being non-transparent and unaccountable.
According to a member of the adoption group -- a loose forum of western countries to discuss adoption related issues -- Spain and Italy are the latest in the league that has decided to not adopt children from Nepal.
Nepal´s adoption system has been questioned by the western countries following publication of a report by The Hague Conference on Private International Law, an intergovernmental organization in February this year.
The report based on an investigation by a group of lawyers accused Nepal´s adoption system of widespread abuse. It also called for suspension of adoption from Nepal until the system is reformed.
Following the publication of the Hague report in February, eight western countries have suspended adoption officially and unofficially from Nepal. They include Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Nepal-based embassies of the EU countries and the United States have already asked Nepal government to ensure transparency in adoption system and keep child rights protection mechanism in place.
In addition, the United States in March had issues an alert notice to prospective adoptive US parents, expressing concern over Nepal´s adoption system and the accuracy of the information in children´s official files.
Secretary at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare Mahendra Shrestha said that the ministry is will talk to the US embassy officials in this regard.
Meanwhile, The Hague Conference has once again questioned transparency and accountability of Nepal´s adoption system even as Nepali mission in Brussels last month had claimed that there have been reforms in the adoption system following the enforcement of a 2008 regulation.
Source : Republica.
- Le Népal ne veut pas améliorer son système de l'adoption internationale afin de le rendre conforme aux normes internationales.
Nepal skips the Hague meet on adoption.
Republica | 21 juin 2010.
- Le Népal "devrait suspendre" les adoptions
Les adoptions du Népal devraient être suspendues, recommande un organisme international qui régit les adoptions entre les pays.
Publié par Kim Myung-Sook sur Fabriquée en Corée.
Le Népal ne veut pas améliorer son système de l'adoption internationale afin de le rendre conforme aux normes internationales.
Nepal skips the Hague meet on adoption
Nepal has remained absent in an international meeting on adoption that is underway in the Hague where it is likely to find itself in an uncomfortable position to defend its inter-country adoption which is marred by alleged fraudulent activities.
The Secretariat of The Hague Conference on Private International Law, an intergovernmental organization, had sent an invitation to Nepal to send representatives to participate in the week-long meeting of the Special Commission which is for the first time taking up adoption trafficking. The meeting kicked off last Thursday and ends on Friday.
"We were invited. We had even decided to send a under secretary but did not at last because we came to know that a documentary was being screened during the meeting," said Secretary at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare Mahendra Shrestha in a question why Nepal decided not to take part the meeting.
By a documentary Shrestha referred to one prepared by the Terre des hommes Foundation, a Swiss NGO working for child rights and welfare. The 20-minute documentary exposes frauds in Nepal´s inter-country adoption practice.
Nepal even lodged an objection to the Secretariat to drop the documentary from the meeting´s agenda, saying that the documentary does not reflect the current ground realities.
But diplomatic sources who are following adoption issues interpret the government´s deliberate absence in a different way.
"It shows Nepal does not want to improve its adoption system so as to make it of international standard," said an official working at an embassy of a western country.
A member of adoption working group, who is participating in the meeting in The Hague, told myrepublica.com in an email message, "This means Nepal missed the boat and a historic opportunity to join the Special Commission. All countries condemn trafficking against their children. But Nepal was not here to join its voice and say that yes, trafficking happened, but that from now on it will be completely stopped."
Nepal´s adoption system has been questioned internationally following publication of a report The Hague Conference on Private International Law in February this year.
The report based on an investigation on ground by a group of lawyers accused Nepal´s adoption system of being subject to widespread abuse. It also called suspension of adoption from Nepal until reforms are ushered in the system.
Nepal-based embassies of the EU countries and the United States have already asked Nepal government in a diplomatic memorandum to ensure transparency in adoption system and keep child rights protection mechanism in place.
In addition, in March, the United States had issued an alert to prospective adoptive US parents, expressing concern over Nepal´s adoption system and the accuracy of the information in children´s official files.
But Secretary Shrestha said, "We are trying to improve the system. We do not want to see trafficking of children."
Following the publication of the Hague report in February, eight western countries have suspended adoption officially and unofficially from Nepal. They included Canada, Denmark, Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Source : Republica Political Affairs.