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A woman from Revere is caught in an international adoption nightmare. Dee Dee Milton has been in Kathmandu, Nepal for more than two months, unable to bring her newly adopted daughter back to Massachusetts with her. The U.S. closed adoptions from Nepal because they fear some of the children are being stolen and sold.
The desire to be a mother was so strong for Milton that she went halfway around the world to fulfill it.
"I’m a single woman. 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 said.
"I really thought that I would be following in the footsteps of other Americans who did this in July, and they were in country and out of country within a three-week time period. Some even less than that."
An Unrecognized Adoption
But Milton has been in Nepal for more than two months, living in a rented apartment with her adopted daughter. They can't come back here because the U.S. won’t recognize the adoption.
Around the time Milton arrived in early August, the U.S. closed all new adoptions from Nepal. But Milton had Nepalese government approval and had taken custody of a 4-year-old girl named Bina. Milton thought families in the middle of adoptions would still be processed, but that hasn’t happened. She says the U.S. Embassy won’t give her specific information about her case and what’s taking so long.
"They just say that you are deemed as 'inconclusive,' and then the Embassy, because you are inconclusive, their hands are tied to issue a visa at this time," Milton said.
Concerns About The Nepalese Adoption Process
A spokesman for the State Department says adoptions from Nepal have been suspended because the U.S. government is concerned that children are being trafficked for adoption. The State Department has issued warnings about adoptions from Nepal since March.
"If the State Department says, 'we are concerned about irregularities in this country,' do not go," says Victor Groza, an expert on adoption from Case Western Reserve University.
"It is absolutely not an option to leave my child in this country. I could not put her in any kind of boarding school or pay to board her back in an orphanage."Dee Dee Milton
Groza says Milton and others who are trying to complete adoptions in Nepal should have listened, because the U.S. doesn't give grace periods when it closes countries for adoption.
"There's not very much these women can do, because it's really about our government saying, 'this government is not a credible government,'" he said.
The State Department says it’s reviewing the case of Milton and at least five other U.S. families in Nepal waiting for approval. U.S. officials say they are working hard to help these families caught in the middle of the process, but they say the Nepalese government is not cooperating. This red tape seems a world away from Milton’s home in Revere, which she shares with her 80-year-old mother, Dorothy.
"This is the car seat that I bought for her," Dorothy said.
A boxed-up car seat sits by the door; a pair of purple rain boots by the window.
"She loved children, always loved children, babysat everybody’s’ children, and so this is a dream come true for her to have her own child, it’s really wonderful," Dorothy said.
Milton is a certified foster parent and pursued domestic adoption. But she was told it would take a long time for her, as a single, 45-year-old woman, to adopt a child. That’s why she looked overseas. Her mother says she's frustrated there's nothing she can do to help her daughter, who has done so much to help her.
"I get around myself and do things, but she’s such a support with everything and I miss her terribly," Dorothy said.
Sens. John Kerry and Scott Brown co-signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last month, saying Milton and other families are "enduring extreme emotional and financial burdens while their childrens' cases are investigated further."
The letter urges the U.S. government to resolve the cases quickly. In Milton’s case, she’s on unpaid leave from her job selling skin care products to salons. Her company extended her leave, but she fears she'll be fired if she doesn't return by Oct. 25. Despite this, Milton says she’s not leaving Nepal without Bina.
"It is absolutely not an option to leave my child in this country. I could not put her in any kind of boarding school or pay to board her back in an orphanage," Milton said.
"My daughter is four years old. She is very aware of who I am. The orphanage when we first met let her know that 'this is your mummy' — it would destroy her psychologically if I ever did that."
Milton says she has police reports showing Bina was abandoned at six months old, starving and with a cleft palate.
Police posted ads but nobody claimed her. She has been in the same orphanage for more than three years. Milton says these circumstances prove to her Bina is in fact an orphan and deserves to come to Revere with her new mother.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Dee Dee Milton's last name. We regret the error.
This program aired on October 8, 2010.
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