Paper Orphans

2013, Society  -  26 min Leave a Comment
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Each year, around 60 children are adopted out of Nepal and into the United States and Europe. Under international pressure in 2010, adoption laws were tightened. But there are indications that children continue to be illegally trafficked into the West.

"Action for Child Rights" is a Belgian organization led by Jurgen Conings which seeks to address abuses that occur often in orphanages across Nepal. Their main focus is stopping the creation of paper orphans; children designated as orphans and placed on the adoption market, whilst in reality they still have their biological parents.

The system in Nepal allows you to quickly put a child up for adoption. The papers needed to create an orphan are very simple. You take a photograph of the child, you then place it in a newspaper in Nepal. If no one responds, you can officially apply for the papers. It's called a system, but in practice it's widely abused.

Arjun is a paper orphan. Six years ago he was adopted from the Krishna Balmandir orphanage in Nepal by an American couple. His biological mother Khanchi contacted Jurgen – she had no idea what had happened to her son. So Jurgen began searching for Arjun's adoptive parents.