Armed with a new study, Both Ends Burning, a nonprofit organization focused on advocating children's right to permanent families, is urging the Department of State to reopen adoptions from Nepal, which have been closed to U.S. citizens since 2010.
The United States Government first suspended adoptions for abandoned children from Nepal in 2010 citing "serious irregularities" and "indicators of fraud." At that time, it warned Americans against applying to adopt from Nepal, stating, "The U.S. Department of State strongly discourages prospective adoptive parents from choosing Nepal as a country from which to adopt due to grave concerns about the reliability of Nepal's adoption system and the accuracy of the information in children's official files."
At that time, 56 American families in the process of adopting children from Nepal were prevented from moving forward and finalizing their adoptions. They were required to prove that no fraud or irregularities led to their children's orphan status before the U.S. government would lift the suspension. The U.S. Embassy in Nepal already issued a report stating it found no evidence of fraud, however, according to the report conducted by Both Ends Burning, the embassy was "unwilling to accept the absence of fraud as evidence of the children's orphan status."
Both Ends Burning, which did an independent investigation, found that the adoptive families were forced to spend, on average, an additional $25,000 to pay for the investigations confirming the orphan status of their adopted children. These costs were incurred to hire lawyers and investigators to overcome the Department of State's conclusion that the children were not eligible for U.S. immigration benefits.
Their children were left in limbo for 200 days, most in sub-standard conditions in Nepal, before the U.S State Department accepted the evidence and permitted these adoptions to move forward.
In every one of the cases, investigators found that the Department of State's claims of fraud and trafficking were unsubstantiated.
Aaron Skalka from Maryland was one of the parents who were affected by the sudden suspension. He claims the U.S. State Department "overstepped its authority" and blames it "for the trauma and economic devastation they caused my family."
Although the allegations of irregularities and fraud have been disproved and the U.S. State Department allowed the original 56 adoptions to move forward -- all of those children are now home with their families in the United States -- all other adoptions from Nepal are still blocked by the U.S. government. The suspension remains in effect, eliminating any chance for abandoned Nepali orphans to come into American families through adoption.
"Nepal is one of the clearest examples of the absurdity of the U.S. Government's approach to orphans and inter-country adoption," said Chuck Johnson, President and CEO at National Council For Adoption. "They banned inter-country adoption for undefined fears of child trafficking, and refused to help engaged and well-intentioned Nepalese adoption officials address their alleged concerns. As a result the U.S. government doomed orphans that could have been adopted into loving families."
Both Ends Burning is calling for the Department of State to lift the suspension of adoptions from Nepal. Earlier this month, representatives from this organization met with Congressional leaders to advocate for an immediate re-evaluation of the policy that led to the suspension so that adoptions from Nepal can resume.