Fifty-six American families awaiting US visas for their adopted Nepali children are circulating an online petition asking Congress to support the completion of their cases. The Nepalese courts have already granted adoptions to the Americans, but the US Embassy in Kathmandu is not allowing the children to enter the US. As I discussed in a previous post, the State Department became concerned about "inconsistent and unreliable documentation" in intercountry adoption cases from Nepal involving abandoned children earlier this year, and stopped processing new cases of this type on August 6. The Department of State (DOS) announced that cases already underway as of August 6 would be processed to conclusion -- but open-ended investigations have left many families in a terrifying limbo. Some parents have opted to remain in Nepal until a resolution is reached; others have had to leave their legally adopted children behind in institutional care while they wait for news in the US.
The families have created a website called They Wait, which features photos of the children and a link to the online petition. In their letter to Congress, the families write:
DOS will tell you that the visas are being withheld because “Nepali children were being taken from their families and fraudulent documents used to show abandonment” (The Kathmandu Press, 2010) but as DOS and [United States Citizenship and Immigration Services] confirmed in a conference call with Prospective Adoptive Parents, Adoption Service Providers, and Adoption Stakeholders on December 15th, 2010, absolutely NO evidence of fraud has been found in any of the cases currently under review. NO fraud.
Each day that these children spend in an institution as opposed to a family, they are receiving (by necessity) less than prompt consistent care, a paucity of verbal and physical stimulation, and perhaps most significantly the love required for a child to reach normal developmental milestones (Davenport, 2006). Children who are institutionalized are at serious risk for significant delays in emotional, social, and physical development (Albers, 1997).
For growth delays, the rule of thumb is that a child will lose one month of linear growth for every three months in an institution. Research clearly indicates that love and nutrition do wonders for a child's physical and developmental growth. The gains made in physical, intellectual and social areas post-adoption have been described as miraculous (Ryan and Groza 2004; Bledsoe and Johnston, 2004; Judge, 2004). The younger the children are when placed in a home with a loving parent, the great the chance that he or she will make up any growth and developmental delays (Davenport, 2006). Every day counts.
You can read and/or sign the complete petition here.