February 21, 2010
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. The Department also strongly discourages adoption service providers from accepting new applications for adoption from Nepal until reforms are made, and to be vigilant about operating in an ethical manner under the current adoption system.
The Hague Conference on Private International Law recently released a report on its Intercountry Adoption Technical Assistance Program, based on a visit by a delegate from the Hague Conference's Permanent Bureau to Nepal in November 2009 (http://www.hcch.net/upload/wop/nepal_rpt09.pdf). This report is the result of an independent analysis of Nepal's intercountry adoption system under the new Terms and Conditions put in place in 2008. The report details a number of weaknesses in Nepal's current adoption system, including the falsification of documents, improper financial gain, and lack of a child protection system.
Based on our own observations and experience with adoption cases in Nepal, the U.S. Department of State shares many of the concerns outlined in the Hague report. In one of the first cases processed by the Government of Nepal after the revision of the Terms and Conditions, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu found that the adopted child was not a true orphan and that his birth parents were actively searching for her.
We encourage parents who have filed an application with the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW) in Nepal, but have not yet been matched with a child or received an Adoption Decree issued by the Government of Nepal, to consider a change of countries. The Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), allow one change of country to be made in connection with one's I-600A application without fee. A request to change countries should be made in writing to the USCIS Field Office where the I-600A was originally filed. (Any subsequent request for a change of country would require a fee.)
Hague-accredited U.S. adoption services providers, and adoption service providers that may apply for Hague accreditation in the future, are reminded that their actions in facilitating and/or processing adoptions in any country (whether Hague or non-Hague) will be evaluated during the Hague accreditation or accreditation renewal processes, in accordance with the accreditation regulations (22 CFR Part 96), including whether, among other things, the provider has established and rigorously followed ethical adoption practices and operates in the best interest of prospective adoptive children.
Prospective adoptive parents who currently have active files at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare and who may already have an approved I-600 Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative from a USCIS domestic Field Office are reminded that consular officers are required by law to conduct an I-604 orphan investigation to verify the child's orphan status in order to the issuance of an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa. Depending on the circumstances of a case, this investigation may take up to several months to complete, even if the I-600 Petition is already approved. In every country, we rely on the host government's diligence to protect the safety and interests of their own children through careful administration of their national adoption process. In the absence of a reliably diligent partner, it can be very difficult to confirm that a child is truly an orphan. Cases in which a child's orphan status cannot be confirmed will be forwarded to USCIS for review and final determination. We strongly recommend that adoptive parents not travel to Nepal until the Embassy has confirmed that the I-604 has been completed. Under current procedures, prospective adoptive parents may file their I-600 petition with USCIS in the United States, which then triggers the I-604 investigation in Nepal. Adoptive parents may contact the Embassy at email@example.com should they have questions about the status of their case.
The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu continues to meet with officials within the Government of Nepal and with other foreign missions concerning the current status of adoptions in Nepal. The joint statement issued by the International Adoption Working Group on February 25, 2010 may be found at http://nepal.usembassy.gov/pr-2-24-2010.html.
Please continue to monitor this site for updated information as it becomes available.