WBUR

Revere Woman Questions Frustrating Nepalese Adoption, Fraud Claims

BOSTON — Last October, we introduced you to a woman from Revere who was caught in an international adoption nightmare.

Dee Dee Milton went to Kathmandu, Nepal, to adopt a daughter. After she took custody, she was unable to get her daughter a U.S. visa because the United States shut down all adoptions from Nepal, citing untrustworthy documentation. After months of investigation, she got the visa, but now a question remains: Was the government right to shut down the program?

Dee Dee Milton and her daughter Bina (Courtesy)

Dee Dee Milton and her daughter Bina (Courtesy)

“I’m a single woman,” Milton said when she was in Kathmandu. “The Nepal adoption program was open to single women and there weren’t many that were open to single women, so I did come alone.”

Milton ended up spending five months living in Nepal, fighting for the right to bring her 4-year-old adopted daughter, Bina, home.

“I anticipated being in Nepal from Aug. 1, when I left Massachusetts, to Sept. 1, which was the day I was booked to come home,” she said.

Milton took out a home equity line of credit to afford living in Nepal, hiring lawyers and investigators to prove her daughter was, in fact, abandoned.

“I was on an unpaid leave from my job so I literally had no funds coming in the entire time I was gone and then came home to unemployment,” Milton said.

Unemployed and angry, she asks, why did the U.S. State Department hold up her adoption? She was one of 66 Americans with delayed adoptions in Nepal. But having Bina come home with her has eased the frustration.

Bina is now living the life of a typical American toddler. She goes to preschool, visits every day with her grandmother and torments the cat, Bubba.

Janice Jacobs says she understands Milton’s frustration. She’s the assistant secretary of State for Consular Affairs. But Jacobs argues Nepal’s child adoption system isn’t trustworthy.

“They estimate — the NGOs with a lot of on-the-ground experience — that perhaps 10 percent of the children who turn up as orphans are in fact abandoned,” Jacobs said.

The State Department worries as many as 90 percent of children in Nepalese orphanages may have been sold by a child trafficker under false pretenses. But Milton is still skeptical. If that’s the case, she asks, why didn’t the U.S. government find more fraud in the 66 cases it reviewed? All but one have been cleared for visas.

“All of the families and these investigators were able to produce ample evidence that the children are not trafficked and that the children are not fraudulent and that the children are authentic orphans and worthy of a visa,” Milton said.

But fraud is hard to prove, says Conor Grennan, the founder of the NGO Next Generation Nepal. He has helped reconnect 400 trafficked children with their families. He says some of the children in orphanages have been kidnapped. Other children have been sold by their families to brokers, who claim they will educate and care for them.

“They are selling them as domestic servants,” Grennan said. “And in the worst cases I’ve seen they are actually forging death certificates for families and putting these children up for international adoption. And again we’ve seen this.”

Grennan says the child trade continues because it’s lucrative. Orphanages can make $5,000 a child from an international adoption — a lot of money in a country where more than half of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day, according to UNICEF.

Milton says she feels positive Bina was not trafficked because of the investigation into her case. But given what she’s had to go through with the U.S. government to get Bina, she’s irritated and worried about how U.S. policy to close adoption affects other Nepali orphans.

“No incidents of fraud have been found and there are so many children left behind?” Milton asked.

Jacobs says Nepal has to make sweeping changes to its child welfare system if the U.S. is to reopen adoption.

“They have to work on a system that builds in better protections for these children and they also have to find ways to look for domestic solutions,” Jacobs said.

UNICEF estimates there are 650,000 orphans in Nepal.

Earlier:

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  • http://www.MAREinc.org Mass.Adoption

    While no adoption should be rushed, since the best interests of the child must be the priority, we feel for these families and the frustrations they’ve endured. Thank goodness for the good outcome for Bina and her mom!

    All adoptions pose challenges. Adults thinking about adopting should note that there are also hundreds of children in Massachusetts foster care waiting to be adopted into a loving home. Adoptive parents can be single, married, or partnered, straight or gay. Adoption from foster care is free, the training & homestudy are free. For more information on all types of adoption, including adoption from foster care, contact the Massachusetts Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE) at 617-54-ADOPT or http://www.MAREinc.org.

    Since 1957, MARE has found adoptive homes for over 5,600 children who had been in state foster care.

    Janice Halpern

    Director, PR & Fundraising

    Mass. Adoption Resource Exchange (MARE)

  • Eriandi

    Oh brother! There is a serious risk that children are being
    trafficked, and the US
    did the right thing by acting on it. So those who may benefit from the
    trafficking are complaining? Yes they get a child – but what if it’s a child
    who doesn’t need them? What if it’s a child who has a family? What if there’s a
    mother searching for a baby who disappeared from a nursery or clinic? What the
    hell is wrong with people, that we say, as long as I get what I want, don’t
    look too closely at who might have been hurt in the process?

    In Guatemala it
    was the Guatemalan government who shut down the adoptions. After dna tests
    showed some women placing children for adoption weren’t related to children. After
    stories spread of children disappearing and families searching. The US
    government didn’t act, the Guatemalan government did. Now they are acting in Nepal,
    and we’re choosing to belittle it? If there was even the slightest hint that an
    America child
    about to be adopted was a stolen child, there would be public outrage.

    The nightmare is not that an adoptive parent had delays and
    paperwork and unexpected costs. The nightmare is for any parent whose child has
    been trafficked. Any parent who will spend a lifetime wondering if their child
    is alive and cared for, scouring every face on the street, hoping for a glimmer
    of recognition. Not knowing that the child they seek, may be half a world away.

  • Clarifier

    Ms. Milton should know that the 66 cases that the U.S. reviewed are only a small sample of the estimated 650, 000 orphans in Nepal; therefore, if only 10% of orphans in Nepal are truly orphaned, it is quite conceivable that in the sample of 66 cases, all but one were truly orphaned since 66 is but a small proportion of 650, 000. In any case, if the U.S. found one ‘orphan’ that was not a true orphan, this should be enough to postpone or cancel adoptions from Nepal. After all, as Eriandi hinted below, how would Ms. Milton feel if she had one biological child who was kidnapped and trafficked as an orphan, and what would she want the government(s) to do about it?

  • Clarifier

    Ms. Milton should know that the 66 cases that the U.S. reviewed are only a small sample of the estimated 650, 000 orphans in Nepal; therefore, if only 10% of orphans in Nepal are truly orphaned, it is quite conceivable that in the sample of 66 cases, all but one were truly orphaned since 66 is but a small proportion of 650, 000. In any case, if the U.S. found one ‘orphan’ that was not a true orphan, this should be enough to postpone or cancel adoptions from Nepal. After all, as Eriandi hinted below, how would Ms. Milton feel if she had one biological child who was kidnapped and trafficked as an orphan, and what would she want the government(s) to do about it?

  • http://profiles.google.com/tuk.tuks.nepal Henry Scobie

    The U.S. Pipeline families hired members of Kathmandu’s adoption mafia to conduct their “investigations.”
    No surprise that these folks found “no fraud” in any of the 66 Pipeline cases.Nor is it surprising that the USCIS accepted these sham investigations.The
    U.S. adoption lobby has long called the shots in Washington. (Foreign
    birth parents don’t have lobbyists on Capitol Hill.) The USCIS and DOS
    are subject to the same sort of regulatory capture that Americans saw on
    Wall Street. A good example is the State Department’s outsourcing of
    Hague accreditation to a private organization dominated by the adoption
    industry. “Self regulation” of the worst sort — with dozens of rogue
    agencies given Hague accreditation.Over a dozen countries have suspended adoptions from Nepal. The U.S. (as always) was the last country to act.If you want to understand the corruption that led to the suspensions, read:

    Nepal Children’s Organization (Bal Mandir) — Victims of Balmandir:

    http://poundpuplegacy.org/node/43654

    and

    Trade of Children (Voice of Children) at PEAR Nepal:

    http://pearadoptinfo-nepal.blogspot.com/2010/06/trade-of-children-voice-of-children.html
    Henry

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