Nepali Times


I applaud any attempts to expose trafficking and/or profiting off of those less fortunate. Thank you for doing so ('On sale', #339) and I understand that full attention needed to be paid to this activity for the subject to remain in discussion and not disappear after a week. However, adoption is a complicated subject and the piece was not balanced.

In Nepal, women do not have the right to legally relinquish children to welfare agencies for the purpose of adoption. Even an unnamed father has over a decade to claim his progeny, leaving the child to be institutionalised. I opened the paper earlier this week to read that Nepali women are gaining many rights. This right, to make provisions for a child for whom care cannot be given, must also be granted.

Until such time, welfare agencies will use other 'systems,' such as fictional police documents, to enable such children to be placed for adoption. Though in these circumstances fictional documents are prepared in the child's best interests, the 'system' throws down the welcome mat for abuse. It also robs children of their pasts, the only thing they have as they move on to new lives with adoptive parents. Give women the right to provide for their children as they see fit, and the 'legitimate' need for fictional documents is eliminated, and adopted children are given a great gift.

A decade ago most adoptees were either unwanted babies or the children of widows and widowers who needed to give them up in order to make a new life. They were given up as much for cultural reasons as for poverty. However, many children who needed a new family did not find their way into this system and grew up unwanted and with minimal care.

In recent years western agencies have descended on Nepal in search of adoptable children. They have created demand and, without asking questions, the supply is being 'found.' Lessen the demand by enforcing accountability. Insist that foreign agencies operating in Nepal perform rigorous oversight of the money they send here for adoptions instead of being in 'don't ask, don't know' mode. Without a state-funded orphanage and adoption system, even with all its inherent flaws, people who work in adoption need to support themselves. This is true for agencies in wealthier adopting countries and social welfare organisations in the countries from which children are adopted. By what standards they pay themselves is the issue and where the remainder of the money goes is the root of the problem.

There are two kinds of unconscionable activities going on in Nepali adoption. One, children who are not truly in need of new families are being trafficked. This is not unique to adoption and must be addressed on many levels. The second is that inordinate sums of money are being pocketed in adoptions, regardless of the child's true need. Social workers deserve to be paid and ethical child welfare organisations deserve donations that enable them to expand their work and support the children left behind. I hope the proverbial baby is not thrown out with the bath water.

Ellie Skeele,

. Children are being kept like gold mines-orphanages make money from sponsors and from adoptions. But I was surprised that the most notorious orphanage was not mentioned at all: Nepal Children's Organisation, Bal Mandir. I have heard horror stories: undisclosed rape cases, the bosses getting very rich, children living in bad care. Some are there for life, because it is lucrative to keep the whole place running by getting foreigners to sponsor children. Go there yourself, it feels like a medieval place where children are held hostage. Isn't the job of every child welfare organisation to either repatriate children to their own village or nearest of kin, or find loving parents for them if they really are abandoned? Certainly not to hoard children and keep the programs running in hope of funds. Was it because too many 'big people' are involved that Bal Mandir was not even mentioned?

Name withheld,

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)