Collegeville family fights halt on Nepal adoptions

August 14, 2010

By Amy Bowen

COLLEGEVILLE — Tears well up in Cherie Beumer’s eyes for the daughter she doesn’t know, but loves.

Beumer and her husband, Todd, are fighting to adopt a 14-month-old Nepali girl. The U.S. Department of State, Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services suspended U.S. adoptions from Nepal on Aug. 6.

The Collegeville couple was scheduled to travel Aug. 7 to Kathmandu, Nepal, to adopt the toddler. They adopted their 6-year-old son, Alex, from the country in 2005. They started the adoption process for a second time more than three years ago.

“We are so far along,” Todd Beumer said. “We already have her photos.”

The pictures show a little girl with chocolate brown eyes and black hair, crawling and sitting on a wooden horse. The family has already invested $20,000-$25,000 in the adoption, not including travel expenses.

The U.S. government halted Nepalese adoptions of abandoned children. According to the State Department, Nepalese adoption documents have been found unreliable, and the government wants to verify the children are orphans.

Other countries, including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany and England, have suspended adoptions from Nepal as well.

About 80 American families have been matched with children, the State Department reported. It is recommending that families defer travel to complete the adoptions.

It is illegal to abandon a child in Nepal, the Beumers said. Therefore, little information is known about children who are abandoned in places such as police stations, they said.

Officials publish the children’s pictures in newspapers in case birth parents are looking for them, they said, then fill out paperwork to make the children eligible for adoption, the Beumers said.

The Beumers and their adoption agency are confident the child they want to adopt does not have a birth family looking for her, they said. They wouldn’t adopt a child who had a birth family that wants to care for the baby, the couple said.

The Joint Council of International Children’s Services, an advocacy group for intercountry adoption and finding families for orphans, issued a position statement about the situation in Nepal. The council contends those who abuse the adoption system in Nepal should be “investigated, arrested and prosecuted.” It does not want to stop intercountry adoption, though, as it “only contributes to the elimination of a child’s right to a family.”

The Beumers feel added stress because they have 60 days from the date they were approved to travel to Nepal to legally adopt the child, according to the government there. They were approved to travel July 23.

They have get to Nepal by Sept. 20 or they will lose the referral, Todd Beumer said.

Cherie Beumer plans to leave for Nepal early next week.

The girl will be legally adopted by the Beumers in Nepal’s Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, but she will not be issued a U.S. visa until the investigation into whether she was legally abandoned is complete. And that could take months, the Beumers said.

They have thought about stopping the adoption, but can’t. They already love the child, and worry she will grow up without a family in the orphanage, Cherie Beumer said.

“We can’t leave her there,” Cherie Beumer said.

“We’re going to adopt her, and show up at the (U.S.) embassy and fight for her, ” Cherie Beumer said. “She’ll be our child legally.”

Todd and Alex Beumer will stay in Collegeville, and will visit Nepal in November or December if Cherie Beumer is still there, Todd Beumer said.

The family is prepared for the worst, which would have Cherie Beumer living abroad with the girl for two years until the child could obtain a visa.

“We’re planning for the worst case,” Todd Beumer said. “It’s better to get good news when you’re expecting bad news.”