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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ADOPTION


1. About Adoption

2. What Islam says about adoption?

3. Adoptive Breastfeeding

4. Who can adopt from Pakistan?

 


1. About Adoption

Adoption is the legal act of permanently placing a child with a parent or parents other than the birth parents. Adoption results in the severing of the parental responsibilities and rights of the biological parents and placing of those responsibilities and rights onto the adoptive parents. After the finalization of an adoption, there is generally no legal difference between biological and adopted children, though in some jurisdictions, some exceptions may apply.

Adoptions occur for many reasons. Many children are placed for adoption as a result of the biological parents' decision that they are unable to adequately care for a child. In some countries, where single motherhood may be considered scandalous and unacceptable, some women in this situation make an adoption plan for their infants, whereas others may come under financial, societal or family pressure to choose adoption. In some cases, they abandon their children at or near an orphanage, so that they can be adopted. In some cases and some cultures, a parent or parents prefer one gender over another and place any baby who is not the preferred gender for adoption.

The main reason for adoption varies from one country to another, depending largely on social and legal structures. The inability to reproduce biologically is a common reason. Some couples or individuals adopt children even though they are fertile. Some may choose to do this in order to avoid contributing to perceived overpopulation, or out of the belief that it is more responsible to care for otherwise parent-less children than to reproduce. Others may do so to avoid passing on inheritable diseases or out of health concerns relating to pregnancy and childbirth. Some believe that it is an equally valid form of family building, neither better nor worse than the biological route.

The majority of Americans are personally affected by adoption.

6 in 10 Americans have had personal experience with adoption.

In 2005 alone, U.S. families adopted over 22,700 children from other countries.

The majority of internationally adopted children are young.

In 2004, 40 percent were under 1 year of age and an additional 45 percent were between the ages of 1 and 4.

Adoptive families are different; find a way to celebrate this difference.

Adoption is forever! Adoption is a lifelong commitment and unification of two families.

Adoption is not the 2nd best! It is a loving and accepting way to build a family.

Adoption is permanent, and you are the parents.

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2. What Islam says about adoption?

There are often misconceptions about the role of adoption in Islam. The fact is that the Islamic form of "adoption" is called kafâla, which literally means sponsorship, but comes from the root word meaning "to feed." It is best translated as "foster parenting." Algerian family law defines the concept thusly: "Kafala, or legal fostering, is the promise to undertake without payment the upkeep, education and protection of a minor, in the same way as a father would do for his son".

It is very much encouraged in Islam to look after the orphan and there are many authentic hadiths [sayings and action of the Prophet (PBUH)] on the subject:

There is a great blessing and reward in taking care of orphans. In the Qur'an the Believers are urged again and again to take care of the orphans. The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said, "I and the guardian of an orphan will be in Paradise or Jannah like these two fingers and he joined his two fingers." (Reported by al-Bukhari)

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "The best house of Muslims is one where an orphan is cared for." Another hadith states that Jannah is fard or wajib (obligatory) on the one who cares for an orphan. In another Hadith he mentioned that "when a person puts his hand of compassion on the head of an orphan, for every hair (that his hand touches) of that orphan he will receive a blessing from Allah." (Reported by Ahmad)

In many passages the Quran also encourages looking after the poor and the orphans:
"They ask you what they should spend. Say: whatever you spend of good must be for parents and kindred and orphans and the poor who beg and the wayfarers, and whatever you do of good deeds, truly Allah knows it well." (2:215)

Some of the confusion centers around the issues of changing the child's name or the inheritance of money. Addressing such issues, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states:

"May Allah bless you and reward you for your concern to help those who are in need. I strongly recommend that you take care of the orphans. As far as adoption is concerned, I can say that according to the Shari`ah it is not allowed to deprive a child of his/her biological parents' name. You can keep the child, provide him/her good home and take good care of him, but do not give him/her your last name. Allah says in the Qur'an, "He (Allah) has not made your adopted sons as your sons. Such is only your speech by your mouths. But Allah tells you the truth and He shows you the right way. Call them by the names of their fathers, that is more just in the sight of Allah. But if you do not know their fathers' names, call them your brothers in faith or your friends. There is no blame on you in whatever mistakes you made in this matter, but what counts is the intention of your hearts. Allah is oft-Forgiving and most Merciful." (Al-Ahzab: 4-5)

In US for the purpose of tax-exemptions, health insurance, school admissions etc. you may need to give the adopted child your last names. Such names can be provided with a clear understanding that you are only the guardians. The orphan children should be told about the names of their real parents. In your own home you and your children should be aware of this fact that these children are not your biological children and you are not their biological parents.

It stands to reason that when those orphans grow up then they will not be mahram (unmarriageable) to you, to your spouse and to your own sons and daughters. They will also not inherit anything from your property unless you give them something as a special gift through the provision of will."

The following articles and responses to questions regarding adoption illustrate the Islamic position on adoption of orphans or abandoned children in Islam.

Read a Fatwa on Islamís Stance on Adoption

Another view on Adoption in Islam

What Future for Muslim Orphans? An Overview, by Hwaa Irfan on islamonline.net

Read more about what Islam says for Adoption

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3. Adoptive Breastfeeding

The mahram issue is one that has prevented many childless Muslim couples to pursue the adoption of orphaned or abandoned children. Fortunately, through the means of breastfeeding a child by the woman care-giver a mahram relationship is formed between her, her immediate family i.e. mother, father, brother, sisters, daughters, and sons whatever the case may be. If a child is breastfed by the woman until the child has gotten his full or even a drop according to some scholars while he/she is under the age of two years old then a mahram relationship is established. This is based on the Quran and sunnah (way) of the Prophet peace be upon him.

Through modern science it is possible for an adoptive mother that has never been pregnant to breast feed her baby, thus giving the baby a mahram relationship with the rest of the family. This should put many adoptive couple at ease with the mahran issue.

There are many sources of information regarding this issue. Listed below are some helpful websites.

http://www.kellymom.com/bf/adopt/index.html

http://fourfriends.com/abrw/index.html

http://forums.adoption.com/breastfeeding-adopted-child/

http://www.lalecheleague.org/NB/NBadoptive.html

http://www.adopting.org/adoptions/adoptive-breastfeeding-2.html

http://www.asklenore.info/index.html

The "asklenore" website is particularly helpful in giving step by step directions to induce lactation through the use of medication, breastpumps, and sometimes herbs.
Also if one takes care of a child as a custodian or guardian and wants to write something for that child in his/her will, then one is allowed to do that within one third of his/her estate. One is allowed to give up to one third of one's wealth to any charity or to any one who would not receive any share of the inheritance otherwise.

And Allah knows best may He guide us all on the straight path. Ameen.

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4. Who can adopt from Pakistan?

Eligibility requirements for Pakistani adoption are noted below:

  • The adoptive parents have to be a Muslim (unless the agencies know they are placing a Christian Child, they would not place a child with Christian family);

  • At least one of the parents must be of Pakistani origin and be eligible for a NICOP or CNIC;

  • Couples must be married for at least three years;

  • For a single man/woman, although the law does not prohibit adoption, it is not very common and may be more difficult; and

  • At least one of the prospective adoptive parent must be a citizen of the country of residence (i.e. America, Canada, UK, etc.).

NOTE: For persons residing outside Pakistan, please check with immigration authorities of your respective country to determine eligibility to adopt from Pakistan.

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