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Adopting a Child in a Non-Muslim Country

11 December, 2017
Q I live in Canada and I’m a father of two children. I was thinking about adopting a child, but according to the rules I’ll have to give this child my name. I have some reasons to adopt a child. So In general can I adopt a child? What are the precautions I should take?

Answer

Asalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

JazakAllah khairan for writing in. It is a laudable thing to care for orphans so mashaAllah this is a great thing to do bi idh nillah and there are many such children in need. The question you ask requires more of a Shari’a response which would give you the requirements you must consider and complete when deciding about adoption so it is important that you consult an Islamic scholar on these issues to be clear and correct in your actions. I will briefly make some suggestions inshaAllah about practicalities.

My understanding is that it is allowed to care for children that are not your (biological) own but not in the form of ‘adoption’ as defined by terms of process in non- Muslim countries. There are many reasons for this, such as it is not allowed to change someone’s identity to that of the adopted parents as is the case inadoption.

Also Islamically, the importance of keeping the parents in the picture is significant, (be they dead or alive)and their relationship is to be actively acknowledged unlike the case in adoption where this remains unacknowledged until the parents deem it suitable to tell the child they are adopted.

There are also a number of practical considerations stipulated in Sharia, such as, marriage, hijab issues between siblings, inheritance, that need to be addressed and managed. Hence, the procedures for ‘adoption’ in Muslims societies are somewhat different.

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You need to be clear about the implications of all these on your current family and your current relationshipwith your spouse and children as adoption will affect their lives and the family culture they are living by within your own home. It is a decision I advise you take as a family because everyone will need to be clear about their roles when the new family member arrives inshaAllah.

It is equally important that you also support and reassure your own children that your relationship with them will remain the same to avoid any negativity towards the new child. It is also very important to talk to them about their thoughts, hopes and fears about this change in their family. My experience is that it is helpful for each person to feel they are able to cultivate their own relationship with the new child as with the rest of the family rather than the relationship being dictated by one or both parents.

So you need to manage this situation from all these aspects inshaAllah. I understand that there are a lot of facilities available in Canada for Muslims and there may be specific agencies to help you manage this situation. I am not sure what the legalities are in Canada around adoption for Muslims, so I suggest that perhaps what you could do is work with the social workers to implement the Islamic side of the process where the non-islamic side contravenes Sharia requirements – if possible.

However, if, after being given all the information, you decide adoption is not for you, then perhaps you could consider ‘fostering’ children instead. This is somewhat different to ‘adoption’ and often children may have active links with their own parents but simply come to you to have some ‘time out’ from their families in situations where their families need help with caring for their children or are simply not coping.

In such cases children go and stay with foster parents simply for ease of burden on their own parents. This is mashaAllah an equally good act. Alternatively you could choose to foster a child abroad – by this I mean you simply pay for the livelihood and education of orphans but as they are abroad they are able to stay within their own families and cultures; and the charities supporting this form of long – distance adoption will always keep you updated of progress inshaAllah.

As your question is brief I can only make tentative suggestions. However, if you require more information please do not hesitate to contact me with specific questions inshaAllah and may Allah al Karim reward this intention and ease your way to success.

About Dr. Feryad Hussain
Dr. Hussain holds a practitioner Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and has worked as a clinical psychologist for a number of years in a range of clinical settings with differing populations in UK. She is author of numerous research articles on health psychology and cross cultural and religious therapy models.