Following the exposure of a market in \'orphans' and the taking away of children without their birth parents' consent in Nepal's poorly regulated adoption process last year, the Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare, headed by a Maoist minister, suspended inter-country adoption.
The ministry stopped processing files, and those awaiting final signature from the ministry were sent back to the District Administration Office. Embassies stopped issuing visas, and the ministry said that nothing would move until the inter-country adoption process is altered to make it similar to the adoption policies in other countries.
When international adoption from Nepal was stopped, there were over 400 families awaiting final signature from the ministry who could not take their children with them. The indefinite halt meant that some parents started camping out in Kathmandu, adoption forums like Nchild and Adoption Nepal started filling up with stories of the children left behind, pleas for information and open letters to senators and to the ministry in Nepal.
When the Maoists left the government in September, the families who were awaiting response thought that things might change in their favour. However, it was only after much pressure from the US and European governments, and months of deliberation and debate that the government decided to ease the ban for the 400-plus families whose files were pending at the ministry.
Three months since the decision was made, the ministry is in the process of approving the few files that are now left from the original 400. "Inter-country adoption is still suspended," says the ministry's legal officer Prakash Adhikari, adding, "the ministry only has a mandate to process the 400 or so pending files, and we are in the final stages." He said that once the process is complete the ministry would focus on the new policy on adoption.
Gyan Lama at the Kathmandu's district administration office, who was on the review committee to draft the new set of policies says it will be more transparent and specific in terms of regulations for inter-country adoption. The new set of policies was sent to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, which sent it back to the Ministry of Women Children and Social Welfare with recommendations, but when the minister resigned in September the process was stopped. Although the ministry has a new minister, the new set of policies will not be ready before elections on 10 April.