April 21, 2011
Government of Nepal Announces Amendments to 2008 Terms and Conditions
On January 5, 2011, the Government of Nepal, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MOWCSW) in its Notice No. 1 announced that children found by the police will not be available for intercountry adoption until further notice. This and other amendments to the Terms and Conditions of 2008 may be found on the MOWCSW website.
Nepal Forms New Government
On February 3, 2011, in the 17th round of voting, Nepali parliamentarians chose Jalala Nath Khanal as the new Prime Minister. On the same day, Parliament passed a resolution censuring Sarba Dev Ojha, the most recent Minister of Women, Children, and Social Welfare, for negligence, lack of responsiveness, and violation of the parliamentary Committee on Women, Children, and Social Welfare's rules. On March 12, 2011, Khadga Bahadur Bishwakarma was appointed as new Minister of Women, Children and Social Welfare. Bishwakarma previously held this same position from 2007-2009, during the Government of Nepal-imposed suspension of intercountry adoptions.
Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice L. Jacobs' Visit to Nepal
Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice L. Jacobs visited Nepal on February 16-17, 2011. During her visit, she met with officials in the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare and the Prime Minister's Office. They discussed the United States Government's concern with the lack of integrity and transparency in the adoption system in Nepal.
Assistant Secretary Jacobs encouraged the Government of Nepal to work with the international community, including The Hague Permanent Bureau, to implement The Hague Adoption Convention and reform its adoption process to protect children and families.
Assistant Secretary Jacobs noted that recent changes to the adoption process in Nepal are inadequate to address concerns about the origin of the children being matched for intercountry adoption.
The U.S. suspension on new adoption cases involving abandoned children will remain in place until substantive progress is made on the issues raised by a February 2010 Hague Convention report.
Permanent Bureau meeting with Government of Nepal Adoption Officials in Rome
On March 29, a joint Department of State/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services delegation attended meetings in Rome organized by The Hague Permanent Bureau (HPB) and the Italian Central Authority to discuss how to improve Nepal's intercountry adoption and child welfare system. Nepal sent representatives from the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, and the Intercountry Adoption Management Committee. The two-day meeting involved representatives from 12 major receiving countries (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States) as well as participants from UNICEF and Terre des Hommes Foundation.
Update on Adoption Case Processing
Since the August 6, 2010 announcement that the Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) were suspending processing of new adoption cases from Nepal that involve children who are claimed to have been found abandoned, sixty four families filed Form I-600 petitions with the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu on behalf of their adoptive children. Of these, Embassy Kathmandu found six petitions approvable and sent 56 petitions to the USCIS office in New Delhi as "not clearly approvable." One case in which the Form I-600 was recently filed with Embassy Kathmandu is under investigation by the Consular Section. USCIS approved one case after an initial review, and sent 55 families Requests for Evidence (RFE) asking for additional information in their case. As of April 15, 2011, USCIS found those 54 petitions approvable after reviewing additional information submitted by the families. One petition remains pending. Embassy Kathmandu has issued 46 immigrant visas to the beneficiaries of those petitions; the remaining families are in the process of finalizing their adoptions and applying for their adopted child's immigrant visa.