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Child adoption: A common practice globally

Published on 26th May, Edition 21-22, 2014


Adoption of boys was a general practice in the affluent class in ancient Rome. For families with no male at all, adoption was the only solution. Adoption was the most common way of acceding to the throne without use of force. In ancient Rome it was an expensive agreement for the childless family and quality had to be ensured. Adoption was agreed between families by the mother giving the boy they wanted to adopt for the most part equal status. During the Roman Empire’s first 200 years, this tradition was common, with Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Lucius Verus all becoming Emperor through adoption.

There is a great blessing and reward in taking care of orphans. In the Holy Quran the believers are urged again and again to take care of the orphans. Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once said that a person who cares for an orphaned child will be in Paradise with him. An orphan himself, Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) paid particular attention to the care of children. He himself adopted a former slave and raised him with the same care as of his own son.

The Holy Qur’an gives specific rules about the legal relationship between a child and his/her adoptive family. The child’s biological family is never hidden; their ties to the child are never severed. The Holy Qur’an specifically reminds adoptive parents that they are not the child’s biological parents: The Islamic form of “adopting-a-child” is known as kafala, which means support, but is best interpreted as “foster-parenting.” It is very much encouraged in Islam to look after the orphans and there are many reliable saying of Prophet (PBUH) on this subject.

Millions of children today in this world are orphaned and there is no one to take care of them and they cry themselves to sleep. They have greater suffering and they feel themselves unwanted and uncared for by anyone.

There is a tradition for adoption as a model to foster greatness. For example, the Moses, was adopted when his parents couldn’t safely raise him. His identity as Egyptian and a prophet benefited his leadership greatly fostering deeper fellow feeling towards poor human mankind.

Adoption of a child has no legal effect in Shariah. A Muslim can adopt a child for both his emotional and psychological satisfaction. He can adopt child as his own real child in the matters of love, affection and general behavior. Adoption of a child and to provide shelter is good deed, which carries much reward in the next world. But so far as the legal aspects are concerned, adoption has no consequence. Nevertheless, it should be remembered that although an adopted child cannot inherit from his adoptive father, but it is permissible, rather advisable, for him that he, in his lifetime, makes a will in favor of his adopted son.

The main reason why parents in general adopt a child is to get the consolation other people have with children. Couples who do not have children find it hard to stay without children. There are many factors that make couple fail to have children, for example, infertility or others. This makes the couple find it the best alternative to adopt a child so that they have a feeling of protection. Adoption benefits not only the child, but the adoptive and birth parents as well. Adoption becomes an alternative to abortion, gives less fortunate children a good life, and allows infertile couples to finally become parents. Adoption is the legal step of taking a child permanently, and be aware adoption means share responsibilities. Many children are placed for adoption because their parents think that they cannot afford to take care of that child, the reason being is simply financial.

In the United States, around 7 million people are adopted and an average 140,000 children are adopted each year. United States has the largest number of children adopted per 100 live births. Adoption in the United States still occurs at nearly three times to its peers although the number of children awaiting adoption has held steady in recent years. The American model of adoption eventually increases rapidly throughout the world. England and Wales established their first formal adoption law in 1926. The Netherlands passed its law in 1956. Sweden made adoptees full members of the family in 1959. West Germany enacted its first laws in 1977. Further the Asian countries opened their orphanage systems to adoption. They were influenced by Western ideas following colonial rule and military occupation.

Adoptions in the United States may be either domestic or from another country. Domestic adoptions can be arranged either through adoption agency or independent. The 2000 census was the first census in which adoption statistics were collected. The estimated number of children adopted in the year 2000 was slightly over 128,000. In 2008 the number of children adopted increased to nearly 136,000. The percentage of kids adopted from foster care is swinging upward, a new report suggests.


In 2010, 13.1 percent of children in foster care were adopted, an increase from 12.6 percent in 2011, according to statistics released by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. The report highlights data from the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System. Of the 1.8 million adopted children in the USA, 37 percent came from foster care, according to the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents. Private domestic adoptions accounted for 38 percent, and international adoptions were at 25 percent. These numbers do not include step-parent adoptions.

The number of children in foster care grew slightly from 397,866 in 2011 to 399,546 in 2012. Last year, boys 52 percent outnumbered girls, and the median age was 8 years old. “The data suggests states are striking a balance between improving the quality of child welfare services and moving children to permanent families,” the agency’s Bryan Samuels says in a statement. “Our role will be to continue to help states find that right balance with limited resources moving forward.” “The report reflects good news for kids and families, says Adam Pertman, executive director of the Donaldson Adoption Institute, a non-profit organization based in New York”.

In India more and more prospective parents are coming forward to adopt little girls. According to the records compiled by Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA), the number of girls who found a family is nearly doubles the number of boys who were adopted in the past three years. In 2011, 404 girls were adopted while 225 male children were taken up by families in inter-country adoptions. Domestically, 2,846 females were adopted as compared to 1,848 males. “It’s true that more girls are abandoned than boys in India but a more positive trend is that most prospective parents applying to adoption agencies want daughters,” a senior official in CARA said. While only 2,169 children were adopted within the country in 2008, the number grew to 5,964 between January 2011 and March 2012. Interestingly, 38 children were adopted by single mothers in the last financial year. There are 308 adoption agencies across 640 districts in the country that give first priority to domestic parents for adoption. Better awareness and sensitivity, the number of reported in-country adoptions has gone up. The latest figures are slightly less because of factors like pending clearances,’ an official of the women and child development ministry said. CARA, an autonomous body under the women and child development ministry, facilitates the adoption of Indian children, maintains database of adoptable children, creates awareness about adoption and monitors and regulates in-country and inter-country adoptions.

The major reason for adoption varies from one country to another, based fundamentally on social and legal ground. Some couples adopt children even though they are fertile. Some choose this in belief that it is more responsible to care for otherwise parent-less children than to reproduce. Adoption is the best choice for building a happy family. It develops to build a feeling of community with other adoptive families so the child has their own network of friends whose families came to be in ways similar to their own.

There are many centers in Pakistan who not only take care of foundlings and abandoned child but also offers adaptation facilities. Edhi Foundation is one of the most commonly used orphanages for adoption simply because they get more abandoned or orphaned children than any other organization in the country and the wait time to get a referral is much less than others. Bilquis Edhi personally handles the adoptions and prefers that overseas families designate a local contact in Karachi to periodically visit the center and call her during the office hours to check on the application status. Mrs Edhi also asks for periodic updates after she places a child with a family.


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