SEATTLE, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department says it will no longer grant visas to Nepalese children waiting for adoption unless abandonment can be proved.
Amid allegations of child trafficking in Nepal, U.S. officials will require proof of abandonment, which has left a number of American families adopting Nepalese children in limbo, unable to bring the children into the United States, The Seattle Times reported Monday.
The United States is joining 12 countries in taking such action, officials said.
Jenni Lund of Seattle went to Nepal to meet Pukar, the 2-year-old boy matched with her for adoption, but has been told she cannot bring him home without a visa. She and Pukar are still in Nepal while the State Department investigates.
In an Oct. 27 letter to Lund, the State Department said a preliminary investigation into Pukar's background found "insufficient evidence" for him to qualify as an orphan under U.S. immigration law.
Some 80 U.S. families find themselves in the same situation, the Times reported.
John Meske, a Tacoma attorney and executive director of Faith International, the leading U.S. authority on Nepal adoptions, says the ban on visas doesn't take into account the culture or the reality of life in Nepal, one of the world' poorest countries.
Women bearing children out of wedlock are still stigmatized, and honor killings against unmarried women who give birth are still committed, Meske said.
"The Nepal situation is unimaginable," he said. "In the end, the actions taken harm not only American families but ... orphan children in need of permanent families."