Expedite Visas for the 80 Families in the Adoption Pipeline
Messages Sent So Far
We respectfully request that the Right Honorable members of the US Senate and House petition the Department of State and USCIS within the Department of Homeland Security to assist the ?Nepal Pipeline families? in obtaining the necessary immigration documents to bring their adopted children home to the United States expeditiously.
The change in policy of the United States Department of State, established on August 6, 2010 (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2010/08/145767.htm), concerning adoptions in Nepal has led to approximately 80 ?pipeline families? experiencing long delays in the processing of their investigations and issuing of visas to newly adopted Nepali orphans. Some of these families are stranded in Kathmandu with their children while they await decisions by the Embassy and now USCIS in New Delhi. Other families are waiting in the U.S., many after having adopted their children and left them in their orphanages. The state of limbo in which these families are now living has caused them to suffer emotionally and financially, placed their employment or their businesses at risk, and left several far from home and the support of family and friends in extremely difficult circumstances.
On August 6th, 2010 the United States Government, specifically the DOS and USCIS branches suspended adoptions of abandoned children in Nepal. The 80 families who had received referrals before that date were termed ?pipeline families.? Prior to this date, the issuing of a visa for a Nepali orphan took approximately 1-2 weeks. Now, since August 6th, not a single visa has been issued even though more than 20 families have filed their I-600 form, some for over two months.
Families have contacted USCIS and DOS frequently to ask for clarification and rationale for their decisions to process pipeline cases differently. They were given the following explanations:
1. The Prospective Adoptive Parents ("PAPs") pursuing Nepal adoptions were warned. In May 2010 DOS put out a statement saying families pursuing adoptions in Nepal without referrals should change country. (http://adoption.state.gov/news/nepal.html)
This indicated a lack of understanding by DOS of the situation that many prospective adoptive parents found themselves in concerning the timeline and requirements for International Adoption. Many PAPs had already been committed to this process for 2-4 years. Critically, each country involved in International Adoption sets different criteria for eligibility for prospective parents, including, but not limited to, age and marital status. Therefore, for many PAPs, following the recommendation of the DOS at that time would mean abandoning the dream of adoption and family. Nonetheless, many PAPs did begin to consider other options at that point, but others also received referrals soon after and successfully completed their adoptions. Still others ? i.e. the pipeline families, received referrals before August 6th, but were not able to finalize the adoption and obtain a US visa before August 6th.
2. The Embassy in Kathmandu put the new policy into place without prior consultation with the Nepali government. In this regard, Nepali Government Travel Authorizations gave PAPs 60 days to travel to Nepal and complete their adoptions. The understanding of PAPs is that if this was not completed within 60 days, the referral would be lost along with the chance of adoption. At the same time, USCIS and DOS were telling PAPs it would take possibly up to 9 months to finish the investigation and recommend approval to travel to Nepal and adopt. The PAPs brought this dilemma to attention of the DOS and USCIS immediately. DOS in Kathmandu responded that they were now trying to get official extensions of the Travel Authorizations from the Nepalese Government.
As time went by, many families saw their 60-day limit approaching its end.Ultimately, the U.S. government informed PAPs it was not able to negotiate an official extension of the Travel Authorizations. Families who had diligently waited for the extension were left to scramble at the last minute. Faced with the possibility of losing their referrals, many of these families made the decision to fly to Kathmandu where they met their children. Some legally adopted their children rather than risk losing them forever and seeing them consigned to a life in an orphanage.
3. The DOS and USCIS suspect fraudulent paperwork. In a phone conference with PAPs on October 4, 2010, Clay Adler, Consular Chief at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, stated that more than sixty Nepali families were searching for their children and that even ?the Minister? had informed him of fraud. His piece in the Kathmandu Post repeats similar allegations: http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2010/10/04/letters/voice-of-the-people/213523/
We understand that there are legitimate concerns regarding human trafficking. None of us approves of a scenario that would involve a child being taken from their legitimate parents/guardians under false pretenses or without permission.We support the intention of the I-604 investigation to conduct a reasonable search into the circumstances surrounding the children?s presence in an orphanage. We would support the reunification of these children with their biological parents if these family members came forward to claim their children.
We are not naÃ¯ve, but the accusations stemming from members of the DOS in Kathmandu have not been substantiated and/or are based on outdated documentation that was collected before the reopening of adoptions in Nepal in 2009. The implication that PAPs are willing participants in corrupt and fraudulent processes that directly impact these children is very distressing, and we request that these accusations concerning the recent widespread irregularities in the adoption process be backed up with solid factual evidence that everyone can access. Otherwise, we respectfully request that such claims not be published and disseminated.
We also note that to respond effectively to an RFE or a NOID from USCIS in New Delhi regarding the Nepali adoption will require the assistance of a US Immigration Lawyer and this additional cost places considerable financial burdens on PAPs. This burden was not shared by those processed prior to 6th August even though the paperwork associated with the adoptions was essentially the same.
The delay of these visas to-date has left the PAPs as well as, in some case, their newly adopted children, in emotional distress.The eighty children are still in institutions, losing their precious window of language acquisition, socialization accommodation, self-image foundational structures, interpersonal communication motivation, and all the basic markers that allow for a whole, well-rounded person to develop.
We would also like to bring your attention to the following Web site where many have posted their personal comments regarding the present state of adoptions in Nepal:
Department of State Facebook Web page ? Nepalese adoptions discussions:
We respectfully request that Members of Congress pressure and petition the DOS and USCIS to deal with these 80 cases immediately and without anymore delays.
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