With the enactment of the Child Adoption Act of Bhutan, 2012, the process has been streamlined

NCWC: At least seven children were given for domestic and international adoption annually in the last eight years, records with the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) show.

Last year saw the highest number of babies given for domestic adoptions at 12, followed by 10 in 2008, and eight each in 2011 and 2013.  Seven children were adopted in 2012, four in 2010, five in 2007 and two in 2009.

This year, so far, only one child has been adopted.  Of the total 57 adoptions, 16 were international adoptions (inter-country), for foreign parents from countries, such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

NCWC’s director general, Phintsho Choden, said, adoptions were taking place even before the Child Adoption Act of Bhutan, 2012 was enacted.  But after the act was enacted, the commission was identified as a competent authority to carry out legalities of adoption.

“Preferences are given for domestic adoption and international adoption is considered our last resort,” she said.

However, international adoption is on hold currently.

The commission is still discussing the Child Adoption Rules and Regulation, 2015, which is expected to provide a detailed guidance on international adoption, legal assistant with the commission, Lham Dorji said. The rules and regulation was implemented since January.

“NCWC is trying to get a list of countries that has Bhutanese missions or embassies, so that we can streamline our international adoption,” Lham Dorji said. “It’ll help us monitor the adopted child’s condition better.”

He added that adoptions were not only for infants, but also for children until 18 years of age.  It is also not restricted to just couples.

Any Bhutanese above the age of 30, who is successful in producing all 13 required documents, could apply for adoption with the commission.  Among others, some of the important documents required are income statement of the adopting parents, no-objection letter from children of the prospective parents, and a written agreement between biological parents and adopting parents.

A sum of Nu 1,200 is charged as application and service fee for domestic adoption, while foreigners have to pay USD 3,100.

NCWC receives babies for adoption from the hospital, police and biological parents themselves.  Some declare to give a child up for adoption even before the child is born.

“Before biological parents give a child for adoption, we counsel them and no child is given for adoption unless both the biological parents agree,” Lham Dorji said. “The child should also be told that he/she was adopted.”

He added that, although the Child Adoption Act of Bhutan mandates a new born to remain with the mother for at least six months before she/he is adopted, this provision is implemented, depending on the situation and circumstances.

After the commission processes all documents, the case is forwarded to a district court, which then completes the legalities.

The commission also carries out a post adoption evaluation and monitoring once in two years for domestic adoption.  For international adoption, annually, the parents are required to submit a report drafted by a competent child welfare organisation.

Meanwhile, about nine prospective parents have already applied at NCWC, and are waiting to adopt a child, while another four adoptions are pending.

By Nirmala Pokhrel