KATHMANDU, Dec 7: Embassies of 12 countries entertaining inter-country adoptions from Nepal have jointly asked the government to ensure transparency and meet international standards while processing inter-country adoption cases.
The embassies passed their concerns in the form of a note verbale (a diplomatic memorandum) to the government via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 24 after they found that the "inter-country adoptions from Nepal were not meeting international standards and practices determined by the Hague Convention". The convention says that adoption should take place in the best interest of the children.
"The group offers its support and urges the Government of Nepal to strengthen the beneficial cooperation with the Hague Conference [Hague Convention], e.g. to ensure that internationally recognized standards and practices," reads the note verbale possessed by myrepublica.com from its sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Submitted by the German Embassy on behalf of the countries on inter-country adoption, the note verbale was initially issued by Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Later, France, Italy and Spain also signed on it. Australia, Canada and the US have also supported it.
A diplomatic source told myrepublica.com that the embassies are particularly concerned over lack of a central authority with responsibility to ensure that inter-country adoptions met international standards and the lack of laws on a par with the convention.
"We also agree [with the countries] that the inter-country adoptions are not taking place as per the international standards. There should be a central authority to see the inter-country adoption," said advocate Upendra Keshari Neupane, who is also an executive committee member of Child NGO Federation.
The embassies have also asked the government to make public the number of adoptable children, their age and sex and the organizations they are staying in. They have also sought information on the status of adoptable children -- voluntarily waived or orphans.
The countries entertaining inter-country adoption from Nepal, diplomatic sources said, are concerned over the rise in the number of adoptable children after the resumption of the inter-country adoption in 2009.
"The number of adoptable children dropped when adoption was suspended in 2007. But we have noticed a sudden rise in the number of such children in child homes and orphanages after the inter-country adoption was resumed in January 2009. How such children´s homes and orphanages see decrease in the number of children when the adoption was stopped and rise when the adoption was resumed?" the source asked.
The countries are also concerned over the representation of the Child NGO Federation in the Recommendation, Investigation and Monitoring Committee at the Ministry of Social Affairs that is responsible for investigating the facts about any children before granting approval for adoption.
"International standards require that there should be no representation of a federation of child NGO that also represents children´s homes and orphanages involved in inter-country adoption," said another diplomatic source.
But advocate Neupane, who represents the federation in the committee, said, "Only the individual who is not involved in inter-country adoption is sent to represent the Child NGO Federation in the committee."
In the note verbale, the embassies have also questioned the existence of two different committees to match a foreign family for any adoptable child. Advocate Neupane agreed that the works of the matching committee have not been transparent.
Similarly, the countries are also doubtful that the paper works on the situation of adoptable children might be fake. They have also expressed concern over deprival of foster care, kinship and domestic adoption to children at child homes and orphanages. "To encourage domestic adoption, the existing laws should be amended," said Neupane, who is also the President of Democratic Lawyers´ Association.