Child Adoption in UAE

Want to adopt a child while living in UAE? Here’s the guide on how to do that.

There is a common misconception with expats in UAE that adoption is illegal. Many even think that adopted kids from other countries are not legally accepted in the country. The misunderstanding arises from the understanding that UAE is a Muslim country and follows Sharia/Islamic law. However, the authorities are always trying to make the law more accommodating to all the people coming to work and stay in UAE.

Adoption is prohibited in Islam, but it is technically allowed in some forms in the UAE. The UAE citizens and Muslim expats are permitted to raise, take care of, sponsor or foster an orphaned or abandoned child. However, only when the process is done through licensed charitable organizations. Moreover, the child is not allowed to take the family name of the foster parents. He or she may continue the family name of their biological parent.

Any child adoption is done outside the UAE is acceptable as well. Expats living in the UAE can adopt as per the laws of their home countries, and the adoptive child enjoys the same right and protection as the biological child.

What happens to abandoned children in UAE?

As reported by Al Qasimi Hospital, approximately 3-6 babies are abandoned at the hospital every year. In case social workers and police fail to track down biological parents, the infants find a home in Emirati households.

If you are thinking of adopting or foster a child in UAE, here is our complete legal guide for everything you need to know.

Child Adoption for Muslims

As discussed, legal adoption is forbidden in Islam, but providing financial assistance and care to orphaned children is encouraged. The Quran specifies the legal relationship between children and their adoptive parents. The child’s biological family always holds prime importance, and the links with them are never broken. Adoptive parents are responsible for providing parental affection, care, and financial comfort to the child, but the child does not legally inherit anything. The Islamic term for adoption in kafala means to feed in Arabic. The term more or less describes the relationship between a foster parent and the child.

Under UAE Law, strict rules govern the relationship between a guardian and child. The guardianship law is different from standard adoption practices followed in most countries.

Below are some of the features of the law that describes the nature of the relationship between the child and adoptive parents:

  • Adopted children carry the name of their biological parents and do not take the surname of the adoptive family.
  • The government provides the surname to abandoned children, and they continue with that name. The parent can choose the first name.
  • Adoptive children inherit the properties of their biological parents and not the adoptive parent.
  • Adoptive parents and children are never considered blood relatives by law.
  • Members of adoptive families are legally acceptable as prospective marital partners.
  • Law of privacy is enforced where the grown child and adoptive family members are of the opposite sex.
  • The adoptive family should never forget that they cannot replace the biological family.
  • The legal responsibility of parents includes child care, parental care, inheritance rights, and custody.

It is always advisable to contact a family lawyer in UAE to understand the procedure for being a foster parent.

Adopting a Child as an Expatriate

Non-Muslim expats are allowed to adopt children when adoption is carried out outside UAE and are accepted in their home country. In such cases, adoption is subjected to the law of adopting parent’s and child’s countries. Once the child and parent arrive in the UAE, the adopted children enjoy equal rights and protection as biological children. The UAE law does not differentiate between biological and adopted children.

Process of Adoption When Residing in the UAE

The adoption process when residing in the UAE goes through multiple steps. Before you initiate the process of adoption, you need to contact a family lawyer in UAE. Our family lawyers in Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, and other parts of the UAE have handled a number of adoption cases successfully. The lawyer also ensures your adoptive child receives residency in the UAE, just like parents.

The local authorities begin the adoption process by conducting a home study. The home study program involves a comprehensive psychological test, which includes weeks of therapy and an assessment of the parent’s eligibility. The home study process may take up to ten weeks, including weekly therapy sessions. The therapy sessions have several benefits. They aid in preparing the prospective parents to plan ahead and provide authorities to evaluate any potential danger to the child. The authorities make sure that the parents understand the child rights laws of the UAE. The whole process is designed for the benefit of children and not the parents.  Once the home study is completed, the potential parents receive the psychological evaluation certificate, certified and signed by a licensed psychologist.

When the home study program is under process, your family lawyer can set up the adoption paperwork. It is recommended to hire a law firm in UAE that has facilitated the adoption process successfully. Apart from doing paperwork, your family lawyer helps set court dates, complete and file the paperwork, and obtain exit documents. When the child arrives in UAE, a residency application is submitted, and the citizenship application is submitted in the parents’ home country.

Following are steps at a glance for adopting a child while residing in UAE:

  • Home assessment (study) program with HRIC.
  • Set up the paperwork and submitting them.
  • Contact an adoption facilitator in the adoptive parent’s home country or any chosen country.
  • Travel to meet the kid you intend to adopt.
  • Complete paperwork.
  • Travel back to the child’s birth country while the court date is still awaited.
  • Apply for a visa and bring the child to UAE.
  • Apply for citizenship in the parent’s home country.
  • Regular reporting to the authorities in the home country till the child reaches eighteen years old.

Please note the above-mentioned steps may vary based on the law of the child’s birth country and parent’s country.

What are the Conditions for Adopting a Child in UAE?

There are some general guidelines outlined by authorities for the couple or individuals adopting children in UAE:

  • Foster family or single mother should be capable of financially supporting the adoptive child and other family members.
  • Foster family must be competent to take care of a child’s well-being, bring him or her up in a proper manner, and take care of his or her health.
  • The foster family members or the single mother must not have any infectious disease or any behavioral or psychiatric disorders.
  • During the home, study the family is expected to present proof of good conduct like a police clearance certificate.
  • The single mother who intends to foster a child must be truly willing and understand the process.
  • The single mother must be at least thirty years older.
  • The foster couple needs to be Twenty-five years or older.

Summing up

At first glance, the process may sound slightly intimidating. The system is created to ensure a safe and secure home for the child. There have been some rare incidents where foster parents or their relatives have misbehaved with the children. All children in UAE are protected under Wadeema law and any kind of abuse to the children might attract the strictest punishments.

Foster or adoption; if you follow the guidelines and work within the law, the process is simple. Your family lawyer can take care of the legal process and you can bring the happiness of a child in the family.

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