International adoption
March 15, 2009 4:29 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone had any experience with international adoption in the UK? We are specifically looking to adopt from a muslim country like Palestine. We've found a lot of general adoption links like and, but would welcome any other information or pointers.
posted by Mossy to Human Relations (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm in the US, but generally speaking it is very hard if not impossible to adopt from a Muslim country. For starters, they usually don't even think of adoption the way we do. At best you could live in that country as a foster parent, but without actually having custody you would not be able to get a visa for them to come to the UK. However according to our State Department, some countries in which Shari’a law is observed do allow custody of children to be transferred through guardianship. I don't know which ones, or how likely it would be for that to happen. And if you are not a Muslim, forget it; there's not a chance.

Here is a brief outline of the rules in some Muslim countries:
posted by texas_blissful at 7:39 AM on March 15, 2009

The only potential Muslim adoptions that I have been aware of (and I am from the States) are from Kazakhstan, where 47% of the population is Muslim.
posted by jeanmari at 7:48 AM on March 15, 2009

There is no adoption as such in Islam at all.
(Of course you could adopt a Palestinian Christian child)
posted by atrazine at 9:06 AM on March 15, 2009

Oh wait. You said from a muslim country, so I assume you want to adopt a muslim child.
posted by atrazine at 9:07 AM on March 15, 2009

Muslims as far as I know don't adopt their children out. And Palestine isn't a country.
posted by watercarrier at 9:09 AM on March 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Maybe a Muslim child in the UK? Perhaps an older one that's in the foster system for some reason? Not sure how it works, but if the Muslim part is the crucial part, you might have to think outside the box.
posted by barnone at 9:14 AM on March 15, 2009

As someone said earlier, in Islam, adoption is not recognized in the western way of thinking. For example, at least in Egypt, even if a Muslim family fosters a child long-term, the child does not take the father's name. And may not be eligible to inherit money.

Ethiopia has an international adoption program, and about 40% of the people in Ethiopia are Muslim. I'm not sure you could request a Muslim child, though, and I don't know if Muslims place/relinquish/abandon children at the same rates.

I don't know much about these groups in the UK, but they seem legitimate:
Intercountry Adoption Centre in the UK
OASIS, for UK folks who are adopting from overseas

The US Department of State has information on regulations about international adoption from just about every country. While this obviously wouldn't apply to you, I suspect a lot of the regulations would be the same.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:30 AM on March 15, 2009

Response by poster: To make it a bit clearer we were looking to take in an orphaned child and understand the shariah position on traditional adoption (not taking the last name, specified inheritance etc and the child would certainly know it is adopted).

Maybe fostering or raising is a better term.
posted by Mossy at 10:39 AM on March 15, 2009

Even if you wanted to foster the child, they would not be able to come live with you in the UK. (at least that's my understanding) I don't think you can get a visa for them if you are not the legal parents. Nonetheless, I doubt the Muslim courts would be willing to let you take a child to a non-Muslim country.
posted by texas_blissful at 11:05 AM on March 15, 2009

Response by poster: In addition, any recommendations for orphan sponsoring except interpal? (any creed!)
posted by Mossy at 11:17 AM on March 15, 2009

The thing is, Palestine has lots of orphans and most of these are a product of war and occupation - so any aid to victims of war in Palestine will help. Islamic Relief does excellent work there, as does Oxfam.
posted by By The Grace of God at 11:25 AM on March 15, 2009

I'm kind of late to this thread, there are reasons why you don't see a lot of adoptions from Muslim nations. One is, shari'a law - but that's a huge exaggeration as most primarily Muslim nations don't adhere to shari'a law. Some do though, obviously.

The main reason you don't see a lot of adoptions from Muslim nations is that the way family is organized and perceived simply doesn't allow much for the necessity of orphanages or adoptions. We had orphanages in Bosnia during the war, but almost entirely because the war turned a lot of children into orphans suddenly, rather than abandonment or that sort of thing. Most of these kids eventually found family who would take them. Normally, this would have taken no time at all, but the war geographically separated a lot of families from these kids. And the fact of the matter is, orphanages were often safer (and children more able to be tended to with food and medical supplies, thanks to aid organizations) than living in certain parts of town. I actually lived right next to an orphanage; families of the kids would come by most days to visit! As soon as it was "safe," the kids were picked up to join their families in daily life. Bosnia produced an enormous number of orphans during the war, but even so, check out the following bit I found:

AVAILABILITY OF CHILDREN FOR ADOPTION: The number of prospective adoptive parents in BIH is significantly higher than the number of children who are available for adoption. There are relatively few adoptable children among the total number of children who are without parental care on a temporary or permanent basis. Most children without parental care have been taken in by relatives, as is customary in Bosnia. According to a recent statistics, almost 3,000 children without parental care were living with relatives or in foster homes. Fewer than 500 were residing in orphanages. In last four years, only one immigrant visa (IR-3) was issued to a child from Bosnia.

That information is several years old. Basically, all of them were absorbed into the families of relatives. In a country were most people are raised with daily knowledge of (say) their third cousins twice-removed, this isn't hard to understand - Bosnian Muslims (like most Muslims) have a sense of family (i.e. whom can you turn to, when times are tough) that's six or seven times larger than that of most Americans. So there's rarely need for adoption . . . to let even a distant relative enter an orphan would bring shame to the entire family. And as people knows each other's lineage quite well, it's hard to escape this shame, should one incur it. My family home, like others in my neighborhood, was four or five hundred years old, and quite possibly lived in by my family from the very beginning. You can imagine how hard it is to keep family secrets, when you've been neighbors with the same people for many dozens of generations!

Those 500 kids still in orphanages? It's likely that many have very severe medical or mental problems. Many were "secret" children - the result of wartime rape. I understand that they've closed nearly all the orphanages now; it's possibly that in Bosnia there really are *no* "unadopted" orphans, outside of a few very ill kids in state care. Hence, no adoption.

It's not difficult for me to extend what Bosnia's situation is to most Muslim places where you'd think there might kids looking for a home. But even in Palestine (and Palestinian refugee camps), most kids quickly find a place within the community.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 2:38 AM on March 16, 2009

I'm rather late to this thread too. I have family with experience from adopting from Pakistan into the US. If that's of any use, MeMail me.
posted by tavegyl at 2:57 AM on March 16, 2009

Well, there are many, many orphans in Egypt, and of course many of these children are Muslim. And if you lived in Egypt, you could certainly foster one of these children. But in general Egypt won't let you leave the country with these children. And I'm not sure that the UK would let in any child if that child wasn't your (adopted) child.

The links I gave above should still help, as they explain immigration procedures and such.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:50 AM on March 16, 2009

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