International adoptions and the Nepal earthquake
Everyone in Canada has been troubled by images of children affected by the devastating Earthquake in Nepal.
SOS Children’s Villages is concerned about the plight of nearly 2.8 million Nepalese children who are affected in some way by the Earthquake. And we are, in particular, concerned for the children who are currently unaccompanied and without the care of parents or family. No child should be alone in this crisis.
At this point in a disaster, thoughts often turn to adopting children. After all, we want to see children safe. What better way to do that than to see them adopted?
First of all, this cannot be done in Nepal. The Government of Canada has banned international adoptions from Nepal since 2010, due to concerns about child trafficking and fraudulent adoptions .
But beyond that, SOS Children’s Villages believes that international adoption can often be harmful to children; that it is in the best interests of children to keep them in the community where they belong. There are three reasons for this:
- It cannot be assumed that unaccompanied children have no living parents or family; that’s why SOS’ primary job in Nepal is to reunite children with their families.
- Premature international adoptions prevent children from being reunited with their families. We shouldn’t take children out of country until all options have been exhausted to find their family.
- Taking children away from their families often makes the trauma they are suffering even worse. It’s better to keep children in the communities they come from, where they understand the language, are familiar with the customs, food, and expectations; that’s why SOS works with communities to make sure children remain safe in their own communities.
The UN Guidelines on the Alternative Care of Children and the Convention on the Rights of the Child are quite clear that it is better to exhaust all options in-country before taking children abroad. SOS Children’s Villages agrees with this stance.
While Canadians cannot adopt children from Nepal, SOS Children’s Villages Canada still believes international adoption in Nepal is an important issue.
According to a recent UN situation report from the Office of the Resident Coordinator in Nepal, “There are no mechanisms in place to prevent the illegal movement of children” SOS believes that awareness needs to be raised that international adoptions are potentially dangerous. We believe that ensuring the safety of children in Nepal needs to be a key priority in the international response to this emergency.
In the coming months, SOS Children’s Villages will be helping children in Nepal who have been separated from their families. That work will involve cooperating with other agencies and the government to identify lost children and providing temporary care in our SOS Children’s Villages in Nepal. We know from similar work in Haiti and in other emergencies that this process will take time. However, SOS Children’s Villages has been in Nepal for 40 years and will continue to be there for many more to see that unaccompanied children are reunited with their families and that those who are truly orphaned find a loving home in one of our SOS Villages.