… the Commission received 46 applications between July 2022 and February 2023

YK Poudel

National Commission for Women and Children Secretariat (NCWC) has facilitated adoption and alternative care for 227 children since 2007.

NCWC is the lead agency responsible for the promotion and protection of the rights of women and children.

The Commission processed 36 applications so far this year—10 are pending due to incomplete documents.

The key focus of the NCWC is to establish a sustainable and comprehensive system to the mainstream, protect and promote the rights of women and children in Bhutan.

According to the legal assistant of NCWC, Leki Dorji, the adoption services were formally established in 2007 and the Commission facilitated 169 children for domestic and 18 children for inter-country adoption.

He said: “Forty more children are being provided with alternative care service since 2014 with kinship care, which is mainly with family members and relatives.”

NCWC, he added, facilitates the adoption of children as per the Child Adoption Act of Bhutan 2012. “We facilitate kinship care and foster care under the alternative care category for children after a proper consultation and counselling with biological parents, prospective adoptive parents, and the adoptee.”

Section 27 of the Act mandates that adoptive parents must be 30 years or older with a minimum of 15 years age gap. “After the application, we review the financial security, capability, and whether the person can pay the adoption fees or is convicted of any crime.”

An official said that the Commission’s mandate is not to separate a child from a biological parent. “We provide services to children with genuine cases in difficult circumstances.”

According to Leki Dorji, children from poorer economic backgrounds, families with difficulty in providing good care to their children, couples who cannot conceive due to medical reasons, and abandoned and orphan children have benefitted from the commission’s support.

“We follow up with the adoptee and the adopting parents until the child reaches 18 years of age to ensure the child is growing up well and is taken care of,” he said.

The Commission would be transferring the adoption and alternative care services to The Pema Secretariat with policy formulation, regulation and adoption services under NCWC.

NCWC deals with issues of the violation of the rights of women and children, such as children in difficult circumstances, children in conflict with the law, gender-based violence, women in difficult circumstances, and adoption and alternative care.

The NCWC has mobile app services and a case management information system for effective service delivery.

Service seekers can contact NCWC’s toll-free number 1098 for services.