On Tuesday the Both Ends Burning campaign released its investigative report, titled Paper Chains, documenting the U.S. Department of State's misconduct and bias against adoptions in suspending international adoptions from Nepal. We are calling on Congress to enter a resolution calling for the reopening of Nepal and to investigate the Department of State's conduct in Nepal and other countries to make sure this doesn't happen again.
In August 2010, the U.S. Government suspended adoptions for abandoned children from Nepal while accusing 56 American families in the adoption process of having cases containing "serious irregularities" and "indicators of fraud." These adoptive families overcame the allegations, at great financial and emotional expense. The U.S. Government ultimately relented and approved their adoptions.
Our team examined these cases over the last six months and found that in every single case the allegations were wrong. They also discovered that the State Department's actions resulted in children spending an average of more than 200 additional days in orphanage care, further impairing each child's health and mental development. And to rub salt into the wounds, our government forced these families to spend, on average, an extra $25,000, in addition to their original burdensome adoption fees and costs, to conduct these investigations before they could bring their kids home.
This landmark report documents deliberate deceptive actions taken by the Department of State apparently with the objective of ending adoptions from Nepal, with no little to no regard for the Nepali children or American families affected. Aaron Skalka, an adoptive parent from Maryland, stated that the State Department "overstepped its authority" and blamed it "for the trauma and economic devastation they caused my family. They put us all in harm's way for the sake of advancing an agenda that had nothing to do with our adoption."
Despite the allegations of irregularities and fraud having been disproved, the U.S. suspension remains in effect without explanation, 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," says our colleague 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."
A fair conclusion is that hundreds, if not thousands, of children have been wrongfully denied the opportunity to become part of a permanent loving family, and that they remain stuck in orphanages because of the Department's refusal to even discuss future adoptions from Nepal.
"We've released this report to seek justice for the families and children harmed by the conduct of our Department of State" said Kelly Dempsey, Counsel and Director of Both Ends Burning Outreach and Advocacy. "The fact that no fraud was found in any of the adoption cases and yet Nepal remains closed today is simply wrong. 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."
The full report is available at www.bothendsburning.org.