Adoption Current Debates & the Islamic Perspective
Category : FAMILY

Additionally, the Islamic perspective safeguards against two things

1. isolation or cutting off the child from his or her biological family, which is common in closed adoptions across the World, thus psychologically and mentally affecting them and.

2. the commercialization of adoption where children are bought and sold in the name of adoption.

Every year on November 9th, World Adoption Day encourages adoptees and their related ones to share their stories, opinions and experiences. It’s a day for the adoptive community to reconnect with others and reflect upon their journey.

Generally, adoption is picturized as a happy process – there is a sad lonely child in desperate need of love and home, and on the other hand, there is a family void of a parallel blessing; both ends meet, accept and vow to grow as a perfect family and it’s happily ever after. The rest of the tale gets blurry; no one talks about the actual saga!

But before delving into the other end, let’s look at the positive aspects of the entire system. Undoubtedly adoption is a beautiful process, and a very noble rewarding act. According to UNICEF, more than 150 million children throughout the world need a home. Innocent immature souls stand unguarded before the harshness of the world. Childhood trauma including abuse and neglect increases the risk of long term emotional, behavioral and health problems, among other challenges. They yearn for love and care which they can only imagine but have never felt before.

Here is where adoption brings about a change: it provides a loving family, a life of opportunity and the chance to fulfill dreams. In most cases, adoption creates a space for a child to grow in a non-toxic atmosphere, to thrive and gain opportunities for a better future.

On the other hand, adoption involves adoptive parents as well. Those who adopt, do so intending to enjoy the joy of a family, an opportunity to be blessed to raise and love a child, to overcome the distress of infertility or child loss or just to add a meaningful purpose to their life.

The Social and Economic Reality of Adoption: Some Negative Facets

To this magnificent act of adoption, the list of cons is on the increase. A single parent, often the birth mother, takes up the harsh decision to ‘give up’ her baby for the sake of her baby and many times for herself as well. When the pregnancy was unexpected and terminating was not in her books, open adoption is on the rise where both the birth parents and the adoptive parents have a lifelong relationship with the child. The child ends up growing legally as an adoptive parents’ child, while simultaneously maintaining some relationship with the birth mother.

Another downside of adoption is abuse: statistics show that mixed groups of children, either adopted children, foster children, stepchildren or other children living under the same roof often suffer such consequences. Extended relatives too eye them with degraded thoughts.

Our Indian society is yet to accept the notion of adoption, which is always seen as a substitute or an alternative. It is often revealed that there is something ‘wrong’ with the parents that they had to resort to such desperate measures. The sight of a child with a different complexion, hair color and features raise multiple questions which further weakens the settling process.

To top it all, the process of adoption has become an expensive and cumbersome procedure. In the name of legalization and paperwork, adoption takes months to happen, apart from the amount of financial and emotional investment one has already made.
The Islamic Perspective

In the midst of these two extremes of adoption, the only solution is to balance out the entire system; a moderate methodology is the light to this path. While on one hand there is fruitfulness in adoption, the process and future of it is at stake.

Islam has the answer – closed adoptions, where there is no contact between the child and the biological parent are prohibited in Islam, but it allows people to cover the needy, namely the orphaned children with protection and financial support. A parent can give parental care and affection to a child without granting him legal obligations. The adopted child can never become a blood-member of the family, nor hold the adopted family’s name but can enjoy the care and support from the adopted parents.

The Quran has specifically laid down rules between a child and his/her adoptive family – The child’s biological family is never hidden, neither is their surname taken away from the child. An adoptive child inherits from the biological, but not automatically from the adoptive parents. If the adoptive parents wish to bequeath their property or give inheritance, a certain percentage of their estate can be given to the child in their lifetimes or after their deaths in their will. If the child is provided with inheritance from their birth parent, the adoptive parent is commanded to be merely trustees and not mix that property with their own.

The Quran explicitly reminds the adoptive parents that they are not the child’s biological parents. Additionally, the Islamic perspective safeguards against two things 1) isolation or cutting off the child from his or her biological family, which is common in closed adoptions across the World, thus psychologically and mentally affecting them and 2) the commercialization of adoption where children are bought and sold in the name of adoption.

When the child grows up, members of the adoptive family are not considered blood relatives and are expected to maintain gender segregation. The adoptive siblings are permissible as possible marriage partners and thus the rules of modesty must exist between the adoptive family members of the opposite sex and the adoptive child after he or she reaches the age of maturity. The only exception is if the adopted child was breastfed by the adopted mother under 2 years of age then they become foster siblings in regard to modesty, segregation and marriage and do not have to observe hijab from their adoptive opposite-sex relatives.

With these guidelines set forwards, Islam highly encourages adoption – “The best house among the Muslims is one where an orphan is well treated, and the worst house among the Muslims is one where an orphan is badly treated.” (Ibn Majah)
The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said, “ I and the person who looks after an orphan and provides for him, will be in Paradise like this,” (putting his index and middle fingers together.) (Al – Bukhari)

Let the World Adoption Day revive the bliss of adoption in the best and most practical way available.

But before delving into the other end, let’s look at the positive aspects of the entire system. Undoubtedly adoption is a beautiful process, and a very noble rewarding act. According to UNICEF, more than 150 million children throughout the world need a home. Innocent immature souls stand unguarded before the harshness of the world. Childhood trauma including abuse and neglect increases the risk of long term emotional, behavioral and health problems, among other challenges. They yearn for love and care which they can only imagine but have never felt before.

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