- Posted January 4, 2014 by
adopted child- a commodity in Nepal
The following story is hypothetical but illustrates a painful true social reality.
It has been a tough day for Kamal. His happiness, and the jest for life has become half hearted recently. It is 12 midnight and he can’t sleep. Memories surround him. He looks at the face staring from the webpage and contemplates about his own life. He is now in his 30s with a wife and a kid living in a rented house at New road. He works in a bank, is paid well and can support his family and also make some savings. But these days he is depressed and sad. His life and work do not interest him much. He feels he has been wrongly victimized and discriminated by law. He was adopted when he was only four years old from Nepal Bal Mandir by a childless couple. All legal documents were drawn and the parents had unconditionally accepted him. He grew up like a normal child, was given the environment and acquired a good education and made friends. In time he got married and had a daughter and a good job. But to his immense grief his adopted mother, who loved him dearly died. He was in shock and pain. Unknown to him his paternal relatives and his adopted father, now in his 84’s, plotted and filed a case to revoke the adoption registration that was acquired while he was an innocent 4 year old. There is aflood of memories. After a long pause…he looks out of the window, all seems dark, there are a few scattered clouds in the sky– will it be sunny tomorrow ?
He returns to the face staring from the webpage. Mark lives in Broadway in New York. His life has been good. He has a happy family and a good job at a newspaper. He is well settled with a house and a car. He is fond of travelling, visiting places and going out for vacations. He too, like Kamal, was adopted from the same Bal Mandir when he was 4 years old. He was adopted by the Sabers, an American family. After the completion of all legal formalities Mark was taken to the US by the Saber family. He is an American citizen enjoying all the rights and privileges. He is legally so well protected that no eventuality could ever take away his rights or plot to revoke the adoption. The law of that land regards children as a gift of God and accepting him into the family puts unconditional obligation to the adopters. They cannot turn back or withdraw from the relationship at their convenience. These things do not even cross Mark’s mind. He takes time to be socially involved with his community, takes care of the disabled and needy and volunteers weekly in rehabilitation camps. Most of the time, he takes his daughter out with him to show that kindness and love are meant to be shared. He is legally safe and no one can break his relationships with his adopted parents. He supports Democrats as he thinks they have a wider view towards immigrants. Although he hasn’t said it himself, he sees himself as a candidate for the US Congress some day.
Kamal sighs and takes a deep breath. He recalls all the efforts he made to prove that revoking adoption is an utter injustice and inequality towards him as a child and as an adult. Tears well in his eyes. He feels utterly betrayed by his adopted father. He feels that his father used him to fight the social stigma of incompetence and sterility. He used him to take care of the household, and meet expenses, deal with ailments. He used him to carry on his surname, get all the love and affection of an innocent child, and build his social status and recognition. And now when all is done and his adopted father has only a few years left to his life he wants to terminate the relationship at the instigation of his relatives who have an eye on his wealth ? Was this a relationship or an act of service right from the beginning? He gets confused.
Kamal feels that now when his services are no longer required his father was seeking to revoke adoption without anything for him – no home, no money, no security, not even an identity. He went through -‘Muluki Ain’, the legal code of Nepal, and was horrified to find that the legal provisions for adoption provided security only to the adopted parent – those pathetic child-less souls – at the expense of the rights and security of the innocent child. He talked with the lawyers and even organizations working in the field. They were deeply concerned but only in words; no one felt his pain, and the psychological stress he was going through, no one wanted to take the initiative to fight this form of injustice. In the internet he found out the latest UN report “Trends and policies on child adoptions” of 2005. He found that adoption was practised in more than 195 countries of the world. He went through the Child Acts, Family Acts, Family Laws of each and every country listed in the UN report. He became even more horrified to find out that NOWHERE in the world could the adoption order granted legally be revoked once it is finalized. The legal relationships could not be broken unilaterally. What is more the legal relationships and remedies for the adopted child were the same everywhere as for a biological child. Except of course in Nepal!! All the talk about child being the gift of God, about policies being in the best interest of the child in Nepal is mere hypocracy.
Nepal’s legal code is concerned more with the welfare of the adopted parents rather than that of the innocent, guileless child. It is concerned about the future of the parents to such an extent that it goes beyond the present and surmises all negative possibilities/outcomes to even put down provisions to penalize the child in such eventuality. The conditions for revoking adoption are laid in such general terms that it could easily be fabricated or made-up against any adopted child. The poignant irony of it all is that adoption is treated as a contract between an innocent, in this case a 4 year old, and the childless adult couple. A contract is binding when the contract is understood, agreed and signed between the two parties. Adoption is a one-way agreement. The child has nothing to do with the legal agreements and yet he, not the adopting couple, is on the line when adoption is revoked. Where else could one find a case of such supreme irony? Kamal thinks of the Muluki Ain provisions as a satire on the equality and human rights commitments declared in Nepal’s Constitution. He thinks of all the NGOs that are set up to work for the protection and defense of the rights of the child but act as dumb spectators at the gross injustice meted out to the adopted child. He gets agitated and angry. He asks –“why was he destined to this fate?” He finds only one answer: because he was adopted by a Nepali couple in Nepal. The laws in Nepal are biased against the adopted child. Selfless devotion to the adopted child that is thought to be implicit in the act of adoption becomes a farce when blood relations take precedence over human values such as love and affection.
Kamal and Mark had similar origins and a shared status to begin with. The difference in choices imposed on them and the difference in legal protection enjoyed in the respective country context made poor Kamal a victim of fate. Kamal has also found out that there ae many like him on the streets that have been used and thrown by adopted parents, sidelined by the Muluki Ain, and forgotten by the defenders of equality and human rights. Had he been given a choice back then and the full knowledge of the implications of adoption in Nepal he would not have opted for adoption at all. The authorities who, perhaps in good faith, acted on his behalf seemed ignorant of the relevant provisions of Chapter 15, Number 11 of the Muluki Ain. And he is paying the price for no fault of his own. Tears well in his eyes as he looks at his daughter who is peacefully in sleep.